12.14.2017

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12.14.2017
NEED TO KNOW.
FCC Votes on Net Neutrality Today.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote to rollback current net neutrality rules today, with big implications for how internet service is provided. The term 'net neutrality' refers to the idea that internet service providers should treat all data on the internet the same, and not charge more or slow down data for different users or platforms - like slowing down Netflix users who stream video to mobile devices. The FCC's chair, Ajit Pai, released a plan to rollback 2015 regulations preventing companies from slowing access based on websites, which is expected to be approved. Under Pai's plan, said companies will be required to disclose when they slow content and whether they charge companies for preferential treatment (in other words, a company like YouTube could pay for its users to have faster data, creating internet "fast lanes"). A number of internet-based companies like Reddit, Etsy, and Twitter publicly oppose the rollback. 

Star Wars Opens Big Holiday Film Season.
Riding a wave of critical praise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters tomorrow (with early showings tonight), marking the first in a string of big Hollywood releases. The eighth installment in the series is helmed by indie director Rian Johnson, whose previous work includes Looper and Brick, as well as some of the most highly-praised episodes of Breaking Bad. Holiday films to look forward to include Phantom Thread (Dec. 25th), which Daniel Day-Lewis has said will be his last film, 6x Golden Globe nominee The Post (Dec. 22nd), and Molly's Game (Dec. 25th), whose lead Jessica Chastain received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. The Last Jedi currently sits at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes after 180 reviews - you can see a full list of upcoming releases here


Republicans Agree on Tax Plan.
Senate and House Republicans agreed on the details of a comprehensive tax package yesterday. While the details are being briefed to members today, the plan contains provisions to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, while dropping the top individual tax rate from 39.6% to 37%. The package also includes a repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate, a key piece of the former administration's health care policy. Democrats are protesting, saying any vote should be delayed until Doug Jones, the recently elected Alabama Senator, is seated. A final vote on the bill by both chambers will likely take place next week before heading to President Trump for signature. 
 
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IN THE KNOW.

Sports, Entertainment & Culture.

> Bon Jovi, Nina Simone headline 2018 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (More)
> Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations announced; Three Billboards leads film, Netlfix leads TV nominations (More)
> Salma Hayek details abuse, death threats from Harvey Weinstein in NYT essay (More)
 

Science & Technology.

> Google opens China-based AI research lab, despite search engine being blocked by government (More)
> Getting cells to self-destruct combats deadly fibrosis, where organs harden and scar on own (More)
> Proximity to fracking sites linked to 25% increased risk of underweight births (More)
 

Business & Markets.

> The Federal Reserve raises interest rates by a quarter point, 2018 outlook unchanged (More)
> Disney to buy film, TV, and international business units from Twenty-First Century Fox, valuing company at $75B (More)
> Target buys same day delivery startup Shipt for $550M (More)
 

Politics & World Affairs.

> Franken replacement will be current Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (More)
> KY lawmaker commits suicide after allegations he molested 17-year-old girl (More)
> World's first travel ban on pedophiles goes into effect in Australia, aimed at keeping child sex offenders from SE Asia (More)
IN DEPTH.

Jim Simons, the Numbers King. 

The New Yorker | D.T. Max. Simons, a noted mathematician, amassed a great fortune as founder of Renaissance Technologies, one of the first to use computational methods to invest in the market. In retirement, he's bringing his expertise in data - as well as his deep pockets - to privately-funded science with an eye on world-changing breakthroughs
 

The Little Blue Pill. 

Bloomberg | John Tozzi and Jared S Hopkins. Viagra, now known as one of the sexiest drugs in America, didn’t really start off that way. The pill to treat impotence was meant to treat high blood pressure and chest pain, but in 1993 during a study of the drug with Welsh miners - well, let’s just say a certain side effect was discovered. Since then the rest is history: billions of dollars in revenue was created and a pharmaceutical revolution had begun. Explore the pill’s meteoric rise to fame with this oral history from the people who developed it.
ETCETERA.
How Newton is coping five years after the Sandy Hook massacre.

One of our annual favorites, Longreads top-rated stories from 2017

The "Year in Search" - what people were Googling in 2017.

Amazing black-and-white photos turn everyday city life into art.

'Tis the giving season - see the 100 largest US charities

Tour the restaurant where George Washington celebrated winning the Revolutionary War.

911 called after woman doesn't get sriracha at pizzeria.

Clickbait: Kids aged 4-6 do better at boring tasks when dressed as Batman (don't argue, it's science).

Historybook: HBD Nostradamus (1503); RIP George Washington (1799); First explorer reaches South Pole (1911); Eugene Cernan is last person to walk on the moon (1972); Sandy Hook school shooting, 20 children and 6 staff murdered (2012).
"CURIOSITY IS THE ESSENCE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE."
-Eugene Cernan
 
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