10.19.2023

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Good morning. It's Thursday, Oct. 19, and we're covering intelligence reports about a deadly blast in the Gaza Strip, a long-awaited confession, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Gaza Hospital Explosion

US officials said yesterday a Tuesday explosion at a Gaza hospital was likely caused by a rocket launched from the nearby area. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has claimed an Israeli airstrike hit the building that housed hundreds of civilians at the time. The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 471 people had died. 

 

Experts said images and videos posted online were inconsistent with a strike, including the lack of a blast crater. US officials said infrared satellite imagery showed a projectile fired from within Gaza, while Israel said it intercepted Hamas communications blaming an allied group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (see overview). 

 

Separately, Israel said it would allow humanitarian aid to pass into Gaza from Egypt. The decision comes as a nearly complete blockade implemented by Israel entered its 10th day. Israeli officials say the blockade is necessary to force Hamas to release as many as 199 hostages, whose current fate is unknown. 

 

See updates on the war here

 

House Speaker Impasse

Rep. Jim Jordan (R, OH-4) was defeated again in his bid to become the speaker of the House after receiving 199 votes in the second round of balloting yesterday, down from the 200 votes he received in the first round (see previous write-up) and still shy of the 217 votes needed. The House returns today to find a path forward. 

 

The 59-year-old Judiciary Committee chair said he plans to remain in the speaker race despite his two losses. A group of bipartisan House lawmakers has reportedly discussed empowering Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R, NC-10) and expanding his currently limited powers to resume legislative business.

 

The House has been at a standstill since Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) was removed from the speaker role two weeks ago. The race to find a House speaker comes as a potential US government shutdown is a month away.

 

Holloway Murderer Confesses

Joran van der Sloot confessed to the 2005 murder of Natalee Holloway as part of a plea deal yesterday, which resolves a nearly two-decade saga. Van der Sloot was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to extortion and wire fraud and will serve it concurrently with a separate 28-year sentence he received in Peru. 

 

Holloway disappeared in May 2005 while traveling with high school classmates to the south Caribbean island of Aruba (see timeline). Van der Sloot, a Dutch national, admitted earlier this month to bludgeoning Holloway with a brick after she refused his sexual advances, saying he then submerged her body in the ocean.

 

In 2010, a US jury indicted van der Sloot for attempting to extort $25K from Holloway’s mother by promising to disclose the location of her body, demanding an additional $225K after its discovery. He was extradited to the US from Peru in June to face trial.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Las Vegas Aces win back-to-back WNBA Championships after edging New York Liberty 70-69 in Game 4 to win Finals series 3-1 (More)

> Fugees rapper Pras, found guilty in April of conspiracy charges, calls for new trial after alleging his lawyer used AI to help write his closing arguments (More)

> Netflix rolls out price increases in the US, the UK, and France yesterday; basic plan in the US will rise from $9.99 to $11.99 a month (More) | Netflix stock jumps 13% on better-than-expected subscriber growth (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to test charging new unverified users $1 per year; pilot program begins in the Philippines and New Zealand, company says effort is to combat bots (More)

> New immunotherapy technique shows efficacy in treating glioblastoma in phase 1 clinical trials; approach uses an engineered virus to infect and reprogram cancer cells (More) | Why GBM, an aggressive form of brain cancer, is so hard to treat (More)

> Large-scale solar panel factory opens final phase of facility expansion; will begin producing 5.1 gigawatts each year, equal to 7% of the total utility-scale US solar power capacity currently installed (More) | See current US power mix (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with Percent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.3%, Dow -1.0%, Nasdaq -1.6%) as 10-year Treasury yield notches 16-year high; average US 30-year fixed mortgage rate reaches 8% for the first time since mid-2000 (More) | Costco CEO Craig Jelinek to step down at the end of the year (More

> Tesla misses Q3 earnings and revenue expectations as margins decline from price cuts; sees 44% drop in earnings from same three-month period in 2022 (More

> US pharmacy chain Rite Aid to close 154 stores nationwide as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy (More) | United Airlines plans to allow passengers in economy class with window seats to board first (More) | Amazon to begin testing drone delivery of medications in College Station, Texas (More

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Politics & World Affairs

> Russian President Vladimir Putin lauds China's Belt and Road Initiative during his visit to Beijing this week, invites global investment in the Northern Sea route (More) | What is the Belt and Road Initiative? (More)

> Biden administration announces new sanctions tied to Iran's ballistic missile and drone programs as UN Security Council restrictions expire (More) | Iran-backed militant group Islamic Resistance claims responsibility for three drone attacks targeting US military bases in Iraq (More

> Pulse nightclub property—the site of a 2016 mass shooting that killed 49 people—to be purchased by city of Orlando, Florida; the city plans to turn the property into a memorial (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Digital Afterlife

IEEE Spectrum | Wendy H. Wong. How the emerging digital afterlife industry is managing the digital estates we leave behind and shaping our posthumous presence. Plus, explore the potential pitfalls of digital immortality. (Read)

 

> Desert Island Tourism 

The Hustle | Zachary Crockett. A look into the businesses appealing to adventurous travelers who seek the ultimate test of survival and isolation by being left on an island without essentials like food, water, or shelter. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Why hitting the snooze button in the morning may be beneficial.

 

See Día de los Muertos celebrations across the US.

 

NASA’s Juno probe captures images of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io.

 

… and satellite image captures moon’s shadow over the earth during eclipse.

 

What you need to earn in 50 US cities to own a home.

 

Where to go when you need fast food fast.

 

Meet the women to be featured on new 2025 quarters.

 

Solar-powered off-road car completes test drive across north Africa.

 

Clickbait: How not to have a movie day for elementary students.

 

Historybook: British Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, effectively ending the Revolutionary War (1781); John Jay becomes first US chief justice (1789); Abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone dies (1893); Actor and director Jon Favreau born (1966); Black Monday stock market crash; Dow Jones drops 22% in one day (1987).

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