1.11.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, Jan. 11, and we're covering California's relentless storms, the start of awards season in Hollywood, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

California Storms

At least 17 people have been killed, and one child remains missing, as record rainfall continues to drench California, prompting flash floods and widespread damage with more storms expected through Friday. Rainfall amounts of up to 7 inches are expected in northern California and the Pacific Northwest, exasperating areas that have already forced tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes.

 

The conditions were aided by a weather phenomenon known as an atmospheric river—a plume of deep tropical moisture that stretches across the Pacific. The rain offers some reprieve to a drought-stricken area, appearing to have lifted 7% of California out of exceptional drought conditions. However, drought conditions can increase the threat of flooding and mudslides (see 101). The storms come five years after mudslides killed 23 people in the Montecito community.

 

San Francisco has seen nearly 13 inches of rain, marking the third-wettest 15-day stretch since 1849. See photos of the storms here.

 

Battle for Bakhmut

Russian forces are poised to capture the Ukrainian town of Soledar, a suburb several miles north of Bakhmut on the eastern front lines of the war, in Russia's first significant advance since August. Some of the war's deadliest fighting has raged for months in the Donetsk region, one of four Russia annexed in September.

 

The Wagner Group, a private mercenary force of 50,000 soldiers led by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, has led the monthslong fight around Bakhmut, with reports of elevated fatality rates. Intelligence officials believe Russia seeks control of Soledar to cut off Ukrainian supply lines and encircle Bakhmut. Battles have been reported near entrances to a network of over 100 miles of salt mine tunnels in the area where it is possible to conceal troops and infiltrate enemy lines.

 

A leaked video suggests Prigozhin recruited many mercenaries from prisons, offering to commute their sentences in exchange for service. See more war updates here.

 

Golden Globes

The 80th Golden Globes kicked off awards season last night, returning to television a year after NBC temporarily pulled 2022's telecast amid scrutiny over the lack of diversity within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Emmy award-winning stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael hosted last night's event live from the Beverly Hilton hotel. See red carpet photos here.

 

Steven Spielberg’s "The Fabelmans" won the coveted Drama category, with Spielberg also taking home Best Director. Austin Butler, who portrayed Elvis Presley in "Elvis," and Cate Blanchett, who played composer Lydia Tár in "Tár," nabbed awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in a drama, respectively. Notable winners include Angela Bassett, who became the first actor to earn an award for starring in a superhero film, winning Best Supporting Actress for her role as Queen Ramonda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." 

 

See a full list of the winners here, and the biggest snubs and surprises of the night here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Bad Bunny, Frank Ocean, and K-pop group Blackpink to headline 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 14-16 and April 21-23); see full Coachella lineup (More)

> "That ’70s Show" star Danny Masterson to face a retrial in March on three rape charges after jury failed to reach a verdict in initial November trial (More)

> Prince Harry's memoir "Spare," released yesterday, sells 400,000 copies to become the UK's fastest-selling nonfiction book ever (More) | Charles Simic, former US poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, dies at 84 (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Microsoft unveils VALL-E, an AI-powered platform that simulates anyone's voice and tone based on input audio clips as short as three seconds (More) | Read white paper (More)

> The past eight years saw the highest global temperatures on record dating back to 1850, according to new report (More) | Extreme weather events caused at least $165B in damages and economic losses in the US in 2022, estimates say (More)

> Researchers develop nasal injections to reverse long-term COVID-19-related loss of smell; more than half of patients saw improvement in trials (More) | See US COVID-19 stats here (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.7%, Dow +0.6%, Nasdaq +1.0%); Nasdaq up for third consecutive day (More)

> World Bank lowers its 2023 global economic growth forecast from 3% to 1.7% amid higher inflation, elevates risk of recession (More)

> Cryptocurrency trading giant Coinbase to reduce headcount by 20%, or approximately 950 jobs (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

In partnership with Ground News

> Cardinal George Pell dies at age 81 due to complications arising from hip surgery; the former Vatican treasurer was embroiled in controversy after a 2018 conviction for sexual abuse of minors was overturned by Australia's high court (More)

> Rep. Katie Porter (D, CA-47) announces 2024 senate bid for seat currently held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D); the 89-year-old Feinstein has not officially decided whether to run for reelection (More)

> Allen Weisselberg, former Trump Organization CFO, sentenced to five months in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud and related charges (More) | Rep. Pat Fallon (R, TX-4) introduces articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (More) | House Oversight Committee to launch probe into classified documents found in President Biden's former think tank office (More)

From our partners: Are you stuck in a media bubble? Find out with Ground News. This industry-busting app will help you overhaul your news diet in 2023. Compare how news outlets on the left, center, and right are covering stories and get a personalized dashboard that shows exactly where your news is coming from. Start your free trial today.

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Etcetera
 

World's most and least powerful passports in 2023 (so far).

 

Ideas for faster deep space travel, including a flying boat

 

... and the first-ever flying motorcycle is in the works

 

Ranking the most expensive appliances on your electricity bill.

 

Watch zoo animals enjoy the rain. (via Twitter)

 

Peek inside a Super Mario Bros.-themed cafe.

 

Dance your way into a Doritos Super Bowl commercial.

 

Ryan Reynolds lets ChatGPT write a Mint Mobile ad.

 

Clickbait: Ice bath business meetings are now a thing.

 

Historybook: Alexander Hamilton born (1755 or 1757); Grand Canyon becomes a national monument (1908); First use of insulin to treat diabetes in humans (1922); Mary J. Blige born (1971); Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, dies (2008).

"You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things—to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals."

- Sir Edmund Hillary

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