Enjoy the holiday weekend - we'll return on Tuesday!
Need To Know.
A "Gay Gene".
There isn't one, according to the results of one of the most definitive studies exploring the genetic basis of human sexuality to date. The massive study examined genetic profiles of over 470,000 individuals, concluding while those with self-reported same-sex preferences differed from heterosexual participants, there was no single gene responsible for the trait (full paper here). Instead, thousands of variations across the genome contributed to overall sexual orientation. Moreover, the study estimated genetics only accounted for between 8% and 25% in determining sexual preferences - not enough to predict a person's orientation - with the majority contribution coming from non-genetic factors, including environmental, physiological, and other influences. The authors were quick to emphasize the study makes no definitive statement on the degree to which nature or nurture play a role in human sexuality, noting both are likely to have a significant influence.
Some scientists are concerned the results could be used to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.
Former FBI Director James Comey violated bureau policy when he shared memos he penned describing a series of meetings with President Trump between January and April 2017, according to an Inspector General's report released yesterday. Comey reportedly shared four of the seven memos, each of which documented a separate meeting with the President, with a number of personal attorneys and associates, with the details of at least one being shared with the New York Times. Comey has said he believed the memos were personal property, but nearly all senior officials interviewed in the report disagreed (full report here). However, the report found that Comey violated policy by sharing sensitive information and did not release classified materials, having redacted classified content prior to sharing. The Justice Department has reportedly declined to prosecute Comey based on the findings.
President Trump officially reestablished the US Space Command yesterday, tasked with covering missile defense, satellite operations, and generally defending US interests in space. It's a revival of a Cold War-era unit originally meant to coordinate space activities across the various military branches - the 9/11 terrorist attacks shifted focus to counter-terrorism efforts, and the organization was folded into US Strategic Command. Congressional approval is still required for President Trump's proposed Space Force - a potential 6th independent branch of the US Armed Forces that would operate in concert with the new command. The launch has sparked a race among cities and states to become the command's headquarters, with finalists including Colorado, California, and Alabama.
SPACECOM may usher in the Star Wars era - part of its mission is to develop joint warfighters capable of operating "in the space domain".
>Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek returns for his 36th season following chemotherapy; Trebek had received treatment for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer (More)
> Minnesota Twins break all-time MLB record with 141 road home runs (More) | ... and Cincinnati Reds' Aristides Aquino breaks National League rookie record for homers in a month with 14 (More)
> Disney lays off 60 employees in latest round of layoffs in wake of recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox; Executive VP for TV Greg Drebin among the cuts (More)
Science & Technology.
> Lab-grown brain-like organs, known as cerebral organoids, begin to exhibit brain waves resembling newborn babies (More)
> Scientists build largest-ever carbon nanotube-based computer processor, with 16-bits and 14,000 transistors; material is a more efficient conductor of electricity than silicon (More)
> Apple sets Sept. 10th date for product rollout event, expected to release new round of iPhones (More)
Business & Markets.
> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.3%, Dow +1.3%, Nasdaq +1.5%) as China expresses willingness to resolve trade war with “calm attitude” (More) > Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly investigating e-cigarette giant Juul Labs regarding deceptive marketing practices to minors (More)
> US Senators ask Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to remove unsafe products from marketplace after investigation finds 4k+ unsafe or banned products (More)
Did you know art has beat the S&P by 180% since 2000? Or that 88% of wealth managers recommend investing in art? Masterworks is an exclusive platform for diversifying into high-end art — claim your invitation today (More) #Ad
Politics & World Affairs.
> Hurricane Dorian intensifies to Category 2 storm, projections now have system reaching Category 4 status; estimated landfall also pushed from late Saturday to Monday as storm slows (More)
> Justice Department indicts 41 in "pill mill" scheme pushing illicit opioid prescriptions; nationwide network distributed over 23 million pills (More)
> At least 3 leaders of protests in Hong Kong arrested, marches this weekend banned by police (More)
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I Have Never Been on a Crowded Battlefield.
WSJ | Jim Mattis. In his own words, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis draws on life lessons from his service career to argue how forces of tribalism threaten to undermine America's role in the world. (Read, paywall)
The Extortion Economy.
ProPublica | Renee Dudley. Local governments and companies are increasingly facing ransomware attacks, often caught unprepared and with little recourse once hackers strike. However, insurance companies often pay the ransom even if files are recovered - mostly because it's good for business - driving a vicious cycle encouraging more attacks. (Read)
Battle of the Bubbles.
Bloomberg | Lauren Etter, Craig Giammona. One of the world's hottest competitions is in the relatively tame-sounding sparkling water market. La Croix, the early darling of the industry, has seen its value drop by more than half as Pepsi and Coke made their aggressive entrance into the water wars. (Read)
Best of Etcetera - August '19.
Editor's Note: Over 400,000+ clicks can't be wrong - here are the most-read articles from August!
"Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful." - Warren Buffett
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