Frances Haugen, French Church Scandal, and the Most Valuable College Majors

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Oct. 6, and we're covering whistleblower testimony against Facebook, a report detailing extensive abuse in the French church, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Whistleblower Testifies

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a Senate panel yesterday, providing an intimate look at a wide range of company practices. During the hearing, Haugen claimed Facebook harmed children and weakened democracy, often despite internal knowledge of the problems. She pushed Congress for greater scrutiny of the company's policies, particularly around underage accounts, hate speech, and misinformation.


The 37-year-old former employee is responsible for leaking thousands of internal documents (paywall, WSJ) to financial regulators and the press. Allegations range from the company's knowledge of Instagram's effect on teen mental health to the revelation of a two-tiered moderation system for favored users (see overview). 


Watch Haugen's opening statement here, and read her complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission here.


Finally, find Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's response here.

(Another) Debt Ceiling Vote

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to hold a procedural vote today on stand-alone legislation to suspend the debt ceiling through December 2022. The vote, the third involving the debt ceiling in the past week, would require the support of at least 10 GOP senators and is expected to fail. Treasury officials have set a deadline of Oct. 18 to take action to avoid default.


Republicans have publicly linked the vote to a sweeping $3.5T budget framework, which they do not support. Observers say Democrats may be forced to consider raising or suspending the ceiling via the reconciliation process, which may be passed by a simple majority vote (here's why). However, the move would require revisiting a number of time-consuming procedural hurdles.


Meanwhile, negotiations continue with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who have rebuffed the $3.5T price tag on the social spending package. Manchin signaled yesterday he would be open to a topline number between $1.9T and $2.2T for the bill.

French Church Scandal 

At least 216,000 children have been sexually abused by French Catholic clergy since 1950, according to a report released yesterday. The 2,500-page review estimated the number may surpass 300,000 if those abused by lay members of the church were included. Most were believed to be young boys, and half of the cases were said to have occurred before 1970. Church officials were also found to have silenced victims and dismissed or ignored claims of abuse.


The church commissioned the independent probe in 2018 in an attempt to provide redress to victims. More than 3,200 abusers were identified, out of 115,000 total priests and other clerics—though researchers noted this estimate was likely an understatement. 


The report follows a decision by Pope Francis earlier this year to explicitly criminalize sexual abuse within the church.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> Boston Red Sox top New York Yankees 6-2 to advance to American League Division Series (More) | See preview of tonight's National League Wild Card matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers (More)


> "And Just Like That," the "Sex and the City" revival currently filming in New York, sets December 2021 premiere date on HBO Max (More)


> Justice Department reviewing decision not to charge FBI agents in sexual abuse probe of USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar (More

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Science & Technology

> Three scientists split Nobel Prize in Physics for work on complex dynamic systems; Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann helped build large-scale climate models, while Giorgio Parisi studied "spin glass" systems (More)


> Engineers develop hydrogel tablets capable of purifying one liter of river water in less than an hour; roughly one-third of the world's population lacks access to clean drinking water (More)


> New imaging approach allows scientists to image whole pigment-containing cells in 3D; advance may shed light on pigment-related disorders and diseases like albinism and melanoma (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets bounce back (S&P 500 +1.1%, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +1.3%) led by tech stocks (More)


> Jeff Bezos ($201B), Elon Musk ($190B), and Mark Zuckerberg ($134B) top annual Forbes 400 list of richest Americans (More)


> US trade deficit grows to record $73B in August, up 4.2%; the figure measures the dollar value difference between what the country imports and what it exports (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> AstraZeneca requests emergency use authorization for COVID-19 antibody treatment for use in immunocompromised patients (More) | US COVID-19 deaths continue to fall, now averaging around 1,750 per day; see stats here (More)


> Transparency advocates call on Britain to tighten enforcement against money laundering after leaked Pandora Papers show London as a tax avoidance hub (More) | South Dakota appears to rival major offshore tax shelters (More) | What are the Pandora Papers? (More)


> California oil spill that dumped an estimated 127,000 gallons of oil into the ocean off the California coast may have been caused by a ship's anchor (More)

BOW ... OW!


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The five most (and least) valuable college majors.


The world's 50 best restaurants (this year).


Floating drone captures footage from inside a hurricane at sea.


Striking photos of birds of prey in flight.


Rogue grandmother sneaks into amusement park, injures herself.


HBO drops teaser trailer for "Game of Thrones" prequel.


Russian actress blasts into space for a film shoot.


TikTok challenges are becoming abusive.


Clickbait: Meet the world's tallest bodybuilder.


Historybook: Civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer born (1917); Yom Kippur War begins (1973); Pope John Paul II is first pope to visit White House (1979); Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, assassinated (1981); RIP Hollywood legend Bette Davis (1989). 


"You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation."

- Bette Davis

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