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Good morning. It's Thursday, Nov. 9, and we're covering a looming urban battle in Gaza, a final goodbye to a trio of giant pandas, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Gaza City Battle

Israel accelerated its offensive into Gaza City yesterday, with increasing reports of clashes between Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas militants in residential neighborhoods. The movement comes days after Israel encircled the city in the northern Gaza Strip, cutting it off from the rest of the 25-mile-long territory.


Israeli officials say they are focused on infiltrating and destroying an elaborate underground tunnel system used by Hamas. The exact location and extent of the network is unknown; previous intelligence from Israel suggested separate systems exist in both north (Gaza City) and south (Khan Younis) Gaza.


Roughly 300 miles of tunnels are believed to have been built—some reaching 200 feet underground (read more)—with the more complex tunnel labyrinth under Gaza City. See a map of the current state of the battle here.


Separately, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for a united Palestinian-led government for both the Gaza Strip and West Bank following the conflict. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu had recently said Israel would be responsible for the postwar security in Gaza (without additional details).


See photos from a month of war here (warning—sensitive content).


Bon Voyage Pandas

The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, bid farewell yesterday to three giant pandas, who left on a 19-hour plane ride to Chengdu, China, dubbed "the Panda Express." The departure of the two adult pandas, 26-year-old Tian Tian and 25-year-old Mei Xiang, and their 3-year-old son, Xiao Qi Ji, marks the end of more than 50 years of giant pandas being hosted at the zoo (see photos).  


Prior to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the first giant pandas arrived in the US in 1972, when China donated a pair as a diplomatic gesture to commemorate then-President Richard Nixon's historic visit. The visit from Nixon, who became the first US president to visit China, was considered a turning point in changing the balance of power between the US, China, and the then-Soviet Union. 


In 1984, China began leasing, rather than gifting, its pandas to zoos in other countries, including the US. The contract includes a yearly fee of between $500K and $1M. Cubs born during the leasing period are property of China. Zoo Atlanta is now the only US zoo with giant pandas, which are set to return to China next year. 


Another Weight Loss Drug Approved

The US Food and Drug Administration approved pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly's weight loss drug tirzepatide yesterday, the latest endorsement of a new class of medications transforming the treatment of obesity and other conditions. The weekly injectable will be marketed as Zepbound and is expected to cost roughly $1,000 per month.


Clinical trials have shown the appetite-suppressing drug can help patients lose 21% of their body weight when combined with a healthy lifestyle. The success of the class of drugs, which includes Novo Nordisk's Wegovy/Ozempic, has stimulated demand over the last two years, straining supply as drugmakers build out manufacturing capacity. Lilly's success with the diabetes version of the drug (Mounjaro) has helped make it the world's most valuable pharmaceutical company. 


Analysts claim the FDA's stamp of approval will broaden access to the drug. Roughly 40% of US adults are overweight or obese, a major risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. 

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and TV and film studios tentatively agree to end actors strike after 118 days (More)

> Rockstar Games to unveil details of the long-awaited Grand Theft Auto 6 game next week (More) | "Mean Girls" movie musical, to be released Jan. 12, debuts first trailer for the film (More) | People magazine taps "Grey's Anatomy" actor Patrick Dempsey as 2023's Sexiest Man Alive (More)

> Musician accuses former Grammys chief Neil Portnow of drugging and raping her, alleges the Recording Academy protected Portnow (More)

From our partners: And the top 6 bonus cards are (cue drumroll) ... The holiday shopping season is here, and experts at The Ascent have sorted through hundreds of credit cards. These 6 are among the best bonus cards they’ve ever seen.


Science & Technology

> AI startup Humane expected to reveal its long-rumored AI Pin today, a wearable device powered by ChatGPT to function as a hybrid between a personal assistant and smartphone (More) | See product preview (More, w/video)

> Researchers create engineered yeast strain with 50% synthetic DNA, a record for complex organisms; goal is to create yeast strains that can naturally produce drugs and fuels (More)

> Genetic analysis of lice suggests the insects arrived in the Americas twice, once thousands of years ago as ancient humans crossed an Asia-Alaska land bridge and again with European settlers (More)


Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 +0.1%, Dow -0.1%, Nasdaq +0.1%); S&P 500 sees gains for eighth consecutive day, Nasdaq sees ninth-consecutive day of gains (More) | Disney tops earnings expectations, reports decline in ad revenue; company will increase annualized cost-cutting measures to $7.5B (More)

> Amazon introduces discounted One Medical membership for Prime members at $9 per month, or $99 per year; Amazon acquired primary care clinic operator One Medical last year for $3.9B (More) | General Motors' self-driving vehicle business Cruise recalls 950 robotaxis over software issues (More)  

> US credit card balances rise to record high of $1.08T in the third quarter, up $48B from previous quarter and $154B from a year ago—the largest year-over-year increase on record (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Five 2024 presidential candidates clash in third GOP primary debate in Miami; see top moments here (More) | View all presidential candidates (More

> House Oversight Committee subpoenas Hunter Biden, other members of President Joe Biden's family as part of impeachment inquiry (More) | Ivanka Trump testifies in New York civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization (More)

> Texas chemical plant explosion triggers large fire, evacuation and shelter-in-place orders issued (More) European Commission invites Ukraine to begin membership talks over joining the European Union (More) | See membership overview (More)



> Scorsese's Fight Against Time

GQ | Zach Baron. At 80 years old, legendary film director Martin Scorsese is enjoying one of the most productive runs of his career while wondering if he'll run out of time. (Read)


> How to Succeed at Failing

Freakonomics | Stephen Dubner. (Podcast) Setbacks, opportunity, persistence, and resiliency—this four-part series explores how to make failure a life-changing experience. (Listen)

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Rare footage of a hungry whale shark.


Extraterrestrials summoned back to Mexico’s congress.

A round-the-world luxury train route to launch this summer.

Chainsaw-wielding thieves are targeting Mediterranean olive trees.


Trailer for newest "Ghostbusters" movie released.

Over 100 national parks to offer free entrance Saturday.

Most of the world is worried about online disinformation.

New isle emerges off the coast of Japan after undersea volcanic eruption.


Clickbait: Australian farmer gives crocodile taste of its own medicine.


Historybook: Napoleon Bonaparte leads coup and becomes dictator of France (1799); Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr born (1914); Astronomer Carl Sagan born (1934); First issue of Rolling Stone published (1967).

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it, we go nowhere."

- Carl Sagan

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