1.19.2024

 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Jan. 19, and we're covering a dissection of the failed response to a deadly school shooting, dropping water in a vital waterway, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

'Cascading Failures' in Uvalde

Leadership failures, lack of coordination, and decisions contrary to generally accepted practice were responsible for the delayed police response during a May 2022 mass school shooting, according to a long-awaited federal report released yesterday. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, with 17 others wounded.   

 

The central issue was found to be a failure by law enforcement to treat the scene as an active shooter situation upon arrival. Specifically, first-on-the-scene responders, including the commanding officer reportedly shifted the response to that of a barricaded shooter (p. 16, full report here)—despite 911 dispatchers relaying they had received calls from children inside the classroom four minutes after officers arrived. Leadership also failed to establish a clear command structure, leaving many arriving support officers confused and without clear orders. 

 

Officials received intense criticism in the aftermath of the attack, with more than 75 minutes passing after the initial police response and before action was taken against the shooter, during which multiple calls by students were made to 911. See a comprehensive timeline here.

 

Reddit Eyes IPO

Reddit is reportedly set to launch its initial public offering in March after a three-year effort to go public, marking the first social media platform to do so since 2019. The filing is expected in February, with the IPO likely completed by the end of March.

 

The San Francisco-based company, valued at about $10B in a funding round in 2021, will decide its IPO valuation closer to the listing and is looking to sell about 10% of its overall shares. Founded in 2005, the company generates most of its revenue through advertising and monthly subscriptions but has yet to turn a profit. It reportedly brought in over $800M in advertising revenue in 2023.

 

The news comes after a decision last year to charge third-party apps to access the site's previously free application programming interface. Reddit faced protests on the platform for the move, including over 8,000 subreddits going dark.

 

Reddit is the world's 16th-largest website by traffic, boasting over 70 million daily users. See more Reddit stats here.  

 

Panama Canal Drought

Panama Canal officials announced Wednesday they would reduce the daily number of vessels allowed to transit the shipping passage to 24, down from the average of 36 this time last year, amid severe drought conditions. Estimated losses from the cutbacks are expected to cost Panama nearly $700M this year and have domino effects on global shipping.

 

The 50-mile canal across the isthmus of Panama is one of the world's busiest trade routes, seeing roughly 5% of global maritime volume and 40% of all US container traffic, a total of roughly $270B in cargo annually (watch overview). First opened in 1914 to facilitate faster trade between the east coast of the US and Asia, the canal requires roughly 50 million gallons of fresh water for each of the 15,000 annual ships using its lock system. Track real-time ships here.

 

The reduction further strains global trade as the world's other major canal, the Suez in Egypt, sees drops in traffic amid escalating conflict in the Middle East.

In partnership with Incogni

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> NFL postseason continues this weekend with the divisional round; see full preview and schedule for all four matchups (More) | Country star Reba McEntire tapped to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl (More)

> Atlanta's Spelman College receives $100M donation, the largest-ever single donation to a historically Black college or university (More)

> "Oppenheimer" leads all film nominees for the 2024 British Academy Film Awards, or BAFTA Awards (More) | See full list of nominations (More)

From our partners: 2024's "it card" now has a $200 bonus. Not only that, it also touts unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases, no annual fee, and 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers until 2025. Learn more and apply in minutes.

 

Science & Technology

> Apple confirms it will drop blood oxygen sensing technology from flagship Apple Watch models to avoid import ban following IP battle loss (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Researchers recreate the life travels of a woolly mammoth that lived roughly 14,000 years ago by analyzing the composition of its tusk; study suggests hunter-gathers established settlements along known mammoth routes (More)

> Engineers demonstrate a robot that grows like a vine in response to light and pressure, may have applications in disaster response and rescue missions (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close up (S&P 500 +0.9%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +1.4%), shaking off three-day slump as technology shares drive rebound; shares of world's largest chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rise nearly 10% (More)

> US weekly jobless claims drop to 187,000; figure from last week is lowest since September 2022 (More) | US average 30-year fixed mortgage rate drops to 6.6% per Freddie Mac’s weekly reading, lowest level since May 2023 (More)

> Macy's to cut 2,350 jobs, or about 3.5% of workforce, amid slowing sales (More) | Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei establishes new smart car unit (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Georgia judge to hold Feb. 15 hearing on claims Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is engaged in an improper relationship with a top prosecutor in the election interference case against former President Donald Trump (More)

> At least nine people killed after Pakistani airstrikes in Iran targeting a militant separatist group pushing for independence in Pakistan's Balochistan region (More) | Follows Iranian strikes in Pakistan Tuesday targeting Jaish Al-Adl, a militant Islamist group operating near the two countries' border (More)

> Congress passes short-term extension ahead of Saturday's federal funding deadline, sends bill to White House for signature; legislation punts deadlines on the two-tiered package to March 1 and March 8 (More)

 

In-Depth

> Testing US Power

Time | Vera Bergengruen. An exploration of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's diplomatic role amid an escalating Israel-Hamas war that has challenged America's global leadership. (Read)

 

> Why You Have a Cerebellum

Rough Diamonds | Sarah Constantin. Known as the "little brain," the cerebellum sits under the cerebrum, contains 80% of the brain's neurons, and has evolved in size faster than the rest of the brain. (Read)

> Lighting Before Electricity

Townsends | Jon Townsend. Everything to know about the 18th-century use of candles and oil lamps, from the reasons wicks are braided to the relative efficacy of tallow and beeswax. (Watch)

 

> Body Questions

Radiolab | Staff. (Podcast) Experts weigh in on fascinating conundrums the human body presents, like why we're so prone to choking, where skin lotion goes, and more. (Listen)

In partnership with Incogni

Identity Theft Affects 1 in 3 Americans

 

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Please support our sponsors!

Etcetera
 

A brief history of America's accents

 

Ancient sword with possible Viking origins found in Poland.

 

See which states are snapping up new weight loss and diabetes drugs.

 

Salmon and bear duo top Canada's best nature photos.

 

... and stunning shots from Saudi Arabia's Dakar Desert Rally.

 

Finalists for Hollywood's best stunts of the year.

 

Mark your calendars for this year's dual cicada megabroods.

 

Japanese spouses bond by tossing the husband down a hill. (via YouTube)

 

Clickbait: When you (literally) freeze your pants off.

 

Historybook: Author Edgar Allan Poe born (1809); Musician Dolly Parton born (1946); Indira Gandhi becomes first female prime minister of India (1966); Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr dies (2000).

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

- Dolly Parton

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