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Good morning. It's Thursday, Dec. 15, and we're covering a deadly storm system rolling across the US, a titanic matchup to close out the World Cup, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Storms Across the Nation

At least three people were killed, including a mother and her 8-year-old son, as a massive storm system moving across the US brought at least 12 tornadoes to Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma late Tuesday. Dozens more suffered weather-related injuries across the South.


The broad wintry system is expected to impact all 48 contiguous US states by the end of the week. Blizzard conditions have swept across parts of the West, as heavy precipitation—2 feet in some places—led to the shutdown of a 200-mile stretch of highway in Nebraska. Severe thunderstorm alerts also went out yesterday across the South, with a winter storm watch in place from the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast through the end of the week. Track the storm here.


The South's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes it vulnerable to tornado outbreaks in the winter months. Last month, two people died after 37 tornadoes touched down across three southwestern states (see previous write-up).


Titans to Clash in Cup

A pair of soccer heavyweights will face off in the men's World Cup final, with France taking on Argentina after beating Morocco 2-0 in yesterday's semifinal match. Argentina handled Croatia 3-0 Monday. 


Only eight teams have won the World Cup title in the tournament's history, with both Argentina and France having won twice. France returns as the reigning champion, having won the 2018 cup, beating Croatia 4-2. The dominant storyline will be whether Argentine superstar Lionel Messi—named the world's best male player a record seven times—can lead his squad to the country's first title since 1986. 


The match is set for 10 am ET Sunday on Fox. See the tournament's best goals (so far) here.


Separately, the wife of former sports journalist Grant Wahl confirmed his cause of death as an undetected aortic aneurysm. Wahl collapsed Saturday while covering the Argentina-Netherlands match.


Final Rate Hike of 2022

The Federal Reserve yesterday raised interest rates by 0.5%, capping off a year of aggressive rate hikes to curb 40-year high inflation. The move brings the benchmark federal funds rate from near zero in March to a range of 4.25%-4.5%, a 15-year high. The rate affects borrowing costs for businesses and consumers, including for mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards. 


The hike is the year's seventh and marks a step down from four consecutive 0.75% increases. The interest rate is expected to continue to climb next year, with most Fed officials signaling plans to raise rates higher than previously expected to between 5% and 5.5%. Economic projections (see here) released yesterday also show officials expect the economy to slow down next year, estimating unemployment to rise to 4.6%, compared to 3.7% in November. 


Because of a lag between the rapid rate hikes and the resultant economic response (see 101), the long-term impact of the cumulative hikes remains to be seen. 

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Stephen "tWitch" Boss, DJ and coexecutive producer of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," dies by suicide at age 40 (More) | "Harry & Meghan" hauls in a Netflix documentary record 81 million viewing hours in its debut week (More)

> University of California regents approve UCLA's move to Big Ten in 2024 (More) | Investigation finds "ongoing misconduct" at majority of National Women's Soccer League clubs (More)

> "The Little Mermaid" and "Iron Man" are among 25 movies added to Library of Congress National Film Registry (More) | See complete list of 850 “culturally, historically, or aesthetically” significant films on the registry (More)


Science & Technology

> Nature releases annual list of top 10 figures who helped shape science in 2022; list includes key people behind the James Webb telescope, efforts to address long COVID, and more (More)

> Gut microbiome can boost athletic drive and performance; mouse study finds certain bacteria produce metabolites that induce signals to the brain region governing motivation (More) | The science behind the gut-brain axis (More)

> YouTube rolls out automated content moderation bots to issue warnings, 24-hour bans for negative behavior by users in video comments (More)


Business & Markets

In partnership with LiquidPiston

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.6%, Dow -0.4%, Nasdaq -0.8%) after Federal Reserve rate increase of 50 basis points (More)

> Battery company Redwood Materials, led by Tesla cofounder JB Straubel, to invest $3.5B in new battery materials campus outside Charleston, South Carolina (More)

> Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice charge eight social media influencers for role in alleged “pump-and-dump” scheme (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Peru's new government imposes police state amid nationwide protests in support of ousted President Pedro Castillo; declaration suspends the rights of assembly and movement, and police are able to search homes without permission (More

> Turkish court sentences Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to more than two years in prison and imposes a political ban for insulting public officials (More) | New Zealand bans cigarette sales to everyone born after 2008 (More

> Newtown, Connecticut, community marks 10th anniversary of mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and six teachers dead (More) | See survivor stories looking back here (More



> The Secret Lives of M16's Top Female Spies

Financial Times | Helen Warrell. A peek inside the lives of three female spies part of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service and how they reached the top of a traditionally male-dominated career. (Read)


> The Human Fallback 

N+1 Magazine | Laura Preston. A first-person account of an English graduate student who worked as a 24-hour operator overseeing a conversational AI for real estate known as Brenda, and her experiences when Brenda went off script. (Read)

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Fifteen striking findings from the past year. (via Pew)


Ten foods we said farewell to in 2022.


A look at the UK’s royal family Christmas traditions.


… and 11 traditional holiday cookies from around the world.


Giant, car-sized wombats that once roamed Australia.


Man stuns public with “Great Balls of Fire” piano performance.


A Los Angeles doctor's four-ingredient hangover cure.


Arby’s introduces meat-scented wrapping paper.


Clickbait: You're a mean one, deputy Grinch.


Historybook: US Bill of Rights ratified, becomes law (1791); Eiffel Tower builder Gustave Eiffel born (1832); Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull killed (1890); Walt Disney dies (1966); Actress Joan Fontaine dies (2013).

"A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there."

- Walt Disney

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