9.12.2019

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Need To Know.
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Trump Considers E-Cig Ban.
The White House is preparing to ban flavored electronic cigarettes amid a rash of mysterious illnesses and deaths, and criticism that companies target children in advertisements. The move comes on the heels of a sixth reported death and more than 450 reported illnesses across the country, believed to be from vaping-induced lung inflammation. However, a number of cases have been linked to the use of off-market cartridges containing THC - the psychoactive compound in marijuana - and rely on volatile chemical compounds to deliver the active ingredients into the lungs (in particular Vitamin E acetate). Still, e-cig giants like Juul have taken heat over seemingly youth-oriented products like mint, creme, and strawberry lemonade, and the FDA sent a warning letter to the company over unproven health claims and for directly presenting to students in school. 

One-in-five high schoolers reported vaping at least once last year, with 97% of users
(paywall, NYT) preferring flavored cartridges.
Democratic Debates (Round 3).
The third round of Democratic primary debates takes place tonight (8pm ET, ABC) live from Houston. The field includes just 10 of the 20 candidates still in the race after increased polling and donation thresholds left half the field short of the requirements to appear. It is the first time all top-polling candidates will face each other on the same stage, including a much-anticipated showdown between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) in what many view as a duel between competing visions for the future of the Democratic Party. Biden enters with an average lead over second-place Warren and third-place Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) of about 12 points (see polls). With 12 total primary debates scheduled, the rest of the field - including Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), Pete Buttigieg, and others (see lineup) - will be looking for big breakout moments. 

Buttigieg and fellow candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) shared an awkward moment en route to Houston.
T. Boone Pickens.
Well-known oilman and hedge fund chief T. Boone Pickens passed away yesterday at his Dallas home at the age of 91. Pickens died from natural causes but had been in deteriorating health since a series of strokes in 2017. Known as the "Oracle of Oil", his success began as a wildcatter - or drilling exploratory wells in areas not known to be oil fields - with $2,500 cash and $100,000 in loans. He developed a reputation as a corporate raider in the 1980s, a skill which he partially attributed to lessons learned when he aggressively expanded his paper route as a young boy. Despite a life in the oil industry, Pickens became a strong supporter of natural gas as an alternative to gasoline, eventually pumping $100M into a campaign for US energy independence that included renewable energy.

...and despite the generational gap, Pickens was decent at Twitter
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In The Know.
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.
> Reports say 2018 horse racing Triple Crown winner Justify failed drug test prior to Kentucky Derby, should have been disqualified; Justify was just second horse to win Triple Crown in 40 years (More)
> Daniel Johnston, renowned singer-songwriter with a cult following, dies at 58; Johnston's style inspired Kurt Cobain, Beck, Lana Del Ray, and many others (More)
> Team USA falls to France 89-79 in basketball World Cup quarterfinals, the first loss for the US men's team in 58 international games (More)
Science & Technology.
> Astronomers discover first case of water vapor and possible clouds on Earth-like exoplanet, or planet outside the Solar System; planet is about 110 light-years away (More)
> Geologists discover new species of pterosaur, believed to be one of the largest flying animals in history; 77-million-year-old creature had 10-meter wingspan (More)
> US EPA says it will phase out nearly all testing on mammals by 2035; critics say it could prevent determining which products are harmful to humans (More)
Business & Markets.
> Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, settles with hundreds of governments for role in opioid crisis; owners the Sackler family would pay plaintiffs $3B+, Purdue to be dissolved and new company would donate drugs to combat opioid crisis (More)
California lawmakers pass “gig economy” labor bill that limits how companies can classify workers as independent contractors, send bill to governor's desk; gig economy companies such as Uber plan to fight bill (More)
> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +0.7%, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +1.1%) as China waives tariffs on US goods for the first time since trade war opening (More) | Hong Kong Exchange bids $39B for London Stock Exchange in deal that would form giant global exchange (More)

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Politics & World Affairs.
> UK court rules Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament until October 14th is unlawful, meant to prevent legislative action; final decision by country's Supreme Court expected next week (More)
> Supreme Court allows administration to deny asylum applications to immigrants who pass through a third country without applying for asylum before reaching US; rule stands while legal challenges wind through courts (More)
> Russia confirms that US spy extracted in 2016 worked in Kremlin, downplays his position and influence; Oleg Smolenkov, reportedly a CIA "super mole", was pulled over concerns that he would be accidentally outed (More)
 
In Depth.
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Someone's Gotta Tell the Truth.
Politico | Brandon Ambrosino. As president and chancellor of Liberty University - the world's largest Christian college - Jerry Falwell Jr. has guided a major expansion of the school's physical campus and political influence. But an unusual number of insiders are now speaking out, accusing Falwell of cronyism, using school funds for real estate deals, and running Liberty like a dictatorship. (Read)
Superfans: A Love Story.
New Yorker | Michael Schulman. Everyone has opinions, but in the age of internet trolling, the responses of die-hard TV and movie fans to new shows have become increasingly toxic. Take a look at how superfans are turning pop culture into the new politics. (Read, paywall)
Etcetera.
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New York City commemorates the 18th anniversary of 9/11
Fantastic visualizations of the world's addiction to plastic
How to do a better job of remembering your dreams

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The hilarious finalists for the year's funniest wildlife photos

Ranking the 150 best college football teams in the past 150 years.
Two near-extinct white rhino embryos were created in lab, and both are female
Bon Appétit's 50 nominees for 2019's best restaurants.
Toy Hall of Fame finalists induce waves of nostalgia

Clickbait: A chimpanzee is running amok in Santa Fe
Historybook: Henry Hudson begins exploration of what will become known as the Hudson River (1609); Iconic track and field athlete Jesse Owens born (1913); Singer Barry White born (1944); Mae Jemison becomes first African-American woman in space (1992); RIP Johnny Cash (2003).
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"The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself...that’s where it’s at."
- Jesse Owens
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