2.1.2024

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Good morning. It's Thursday, Feb. 1, and we're covering a potential change at the top of Ukraine's military, an abrupt end to a once-promising drug, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Alzheimer's Drug Dropped

Current sales of the controversial Alzheimer's treatment Aducanumab will be discontinued, and further development halted, biotechnology firm Biogen said yesterday. The drug's approval in 2021 drew scrutiny over claims there was little evidence it improved outcomes for patients. 

 

Marketed as Aduhelm, the treatment focused on attacking misfolded amyloid proteins—tangled structures in the brain linked to neurodegeneration and which have been implicated in the progression of the disease (the theory itself has recently been called into question). Clinical trials showed mixed results, with one set finding cognitive decline was delayed by around 20% over 18 months at high doses, while a second set showed no significant improvements. 

 

Approval came despite around 40% of high-dose patients experiencing some degree of brain swelling, with 6% leaving the study due to side effects. Separately, a federal panel of outside experts urged the FDA to reject the drug. A congressional probe ultimately concluded federal officials inappropriately fast-tracked the drug, and three officials resigned as a result of the process. 

 

Learn more about the challenges in finding an Alzheimer's cure here.

 

Quarrels in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly sought to dismiss his popular top general Valerii Zaluzhnyi after the general refused the president's request Monday to step down voluntarily, according reports yesterday. By yesterday evening Zelenskyy had pulled back on the request after potential successors were said to have refused the job.

 

The 50-year-old Zaluzhnyi has led Ukraine's armed forces since 2021 and currently holds the highest approval rating of any public Ukrainian official at 88%. He has been credited with quickly mobilizing the military ahead of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. The two clashed publicly in November over divergent descriptions of last year's stalled counteroffensive, and they reportedly disagreed Monday over the possibility of a new mass mobilization in Ukraine. The news comes as Zelenskyy mulls scheduling elections this year despite wartime martial laws barring them. 

 

Separately, Ukraine and Russia conducted a prisoner swap yesterday for the first time since a Russian military plane reportedly carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war crashed last week. See more war updates here.

 

Universal vs. TikTok

Universal Music Group—the world's largest music company representing artists including Taylor Swift, Drake, Adele, and BTS—has announced it will no longer license music to social video platform TikTok. 

 

The news comes as TikTok and UMG, which commands a third of the global music market, failed to reach new terms of a music licensing agreement after their previous contract expired yesterday. Sticking points included fair compensation for UMG's artists and songwriters, protection from AI-generated content, and concerns over infringement and safety issues. UMG claimed TikTok, which accounts for roughly 1% of its revenue, presented a new deal worth less than the previous one and lower than fair market value. UMG also claimed TikTok's approach to AI-generated music would dilute royalties for human artists and songwriters. Read UMG's open letter here

 

Roughly 60% of TikTok content features music, helping to drive discoverability and sometimes pushing songs to the top of the charts. Without a deal in place, TikTok will be forced to pull roughly 4 million songs associated with UMG from its platform, and users will no longer be able to use those songs. 

In partnership with SmartAsset

7 Mistakes When Choosing A Financial Advisor

 

Working with a financial advisor can be a crucial part of healthy retirement planning.

 

Research suggests that people who work with a financial advisor feel more at ease about their finances and could end up with about 15% more money to spend in retirement.¹ But choosing the wrong one could potentially wreak havoc. Avoid these 7 mistakes when hiring an advisor so you can work to save years of stress. See the list.

 

With thousands of options available, finding an advisor can seem daunting. That's why SmartAsset developed a no-cost tool to help match you with up to 3 vetted financial advisors serving your area, each legally bound to work in your best interest. It's never too late to work toward a comfortable retirement. Get your financial advisor matches today.

 

1. "Journal of Retirement Study Winter" (2020). The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please follow the link to see the methodologies employed in the Journal of Retirement study.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> MLB's Baltimore Orioles to be sold to investor group led by Carlyle Group's cofounder David Rubenstein for $1.7B; other members of the group include Cal Ripken Jr., Grant Hill, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (More)

> Digital media startup "The Messenger" to shut down less than one year after its launch; company had secured $50M in upfront investment (More

> Tennessee and Virginia attorneys general file antitrust lawsuit against NCAA over name, image, and likeness guidelines (More) | PGA Tour gets $3B investment from consortium led by Fenway Sports Group that would provide equity to nearly 200 tour players (More

 

Science & Technology

> New study shows ancient humans migrated to Northern Europe as early as 45,000 years ago; influx may have been Neanderthals to extinction in the region (More)

> Researchers make key step toward enabling the body to regrow heart valves, offering a potential alternative to invasive replacement surgery; approach relies on a biodegradable scaffolding that promotes cell growth (More)

> Sea otters play a critical role in preventing erosion of coastal estuaries by preying on crabs, which otherwise consume vegetation and destabilize soil; findings underscore complex relationships within various ecosystems (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.6%, Dow -0.8%, Nasdaq -2.2%) as Fed holds interest rates steady, indicates rate cuts coming but not imminent (More

> Allen Media Group seeks to buy Paramount Global for $14.3B, or $30B including debt (More) | Walmart announces 3-1 stock split, the first stock split since 1999 and the 12th in the company's history (More) | Walmart to open 150 new US stores over five years (More) | H&M CEO replaced after surprise exit (More)

> CEOs of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap, and Discord testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on child exploitation (More

From our partners: (Cue drumroll) And the top 4 bonus cards are ... 2024 is here, and experts at The Ascent have sorted through hundreds of credit cards. These 4 are among the best bonus cards they’ve ever seen.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> US State Department reviewing policy options on possible recognition of a Palestinian state (More) | The US says Iraq's Islamic Resistance behind Jordan airstrike that killed US troops (More) | Families of American victims of Hamas' Oct. 7 raid sue Iran, Syria, and cryptocurrency exchange Binance for funding Hamas (More

> House passes $78B bipartisan tax package on a 357 to 70 vote; legislation includes temporary expansion of Child Tax Credit (More) | House panel approves two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for allegedly violating immigration laws (More) 

> Federal judge dismisses Disney lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for lack of legal standing; Disney sued DeSantis last year after he and other lawmakers removed Disney's self-governing status in the state (More)

 

In-Depth

> Why Are Americans Shrinking?

WBUR | Daniel Ackerman, Meghna Chakrabarti. (Podcast) Toward the turn of the 20th century, Americans were the world's tallest people. Over the past four decades, average height has shrunk, with the US now ranking 47th in average height. What happened? (Listen)

 

> Portrait of a Mass Murderer

EL PAÍS | Staff. Take a visual deep dive into what makes the fentanyl crisis so deadly and its global impact, from the Mexican state of Sinaloa to the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, and beyond. (Read)

In partnership with SmartAsset

Vanguard vs. Fidelity vs. Schwab

 

Who are you partnered with? It’s no secret these could be considered three of the most popular brokerage firms. But they stack up slightly differently when it comes to fees and their specific suite of services. Learn more about who should work with Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab.

 

Try SmartAsset's no-cost tool to get matched with up to 3 vetted financial advisors serving your area. While your advisor matches may not necessarily be associated with the above institutions, consulting a fiduciary can be a great first step toward a comfortable retirement. Get your financial advisor matches today.

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Etcetera
 

Baltimore is crowned most romantic city in the US.

 

... and new study says love languages may be fake

 

Analyzing the careers of people making at least $150K in 50 cities.

 

Hundreds of manatees gather to warm up at Florida state park.

 

A look at dragon’s beard candy, a staple of Chinese and Lunar New Year.

 

Iowa star Caitlin Clark's impact on the business of college basketball

 

Super Bowl proposition bets include Usher's halftime shoes.

 

Study finds American workers want more schedule flexibility.

 

Clickbait: Company debuts "It’s Not Me, It’s You" breakup cookies.

 

Historybook: "Oxford English Dictionary" debuts (1884); Film legend Clark Gable born (1901); Harriet Tubman becomes first Black woman on US postage stamp (1978); Harry Styles born (1994); Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates on reentry, all seven astronauts killed (2003).

"Life is a magical thing."

- Laurel Clark, astronaut and medical doctor aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia

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