3.1.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, March 1, and we're covering a bloody scene in northern Gaza, the second half of a cinematic epic, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Deadly Aid Delivery

Over 100 Palestinians were reportedly killed and at least 700 wounded in Gaza City yesterday after Israeli forces opened fire on crowds gathering near a convoy of aid trucks. The chaotic scene drew conflicting accounts—witnesses accused Israeli troops of firing as residents received food supplies, while the Israeli military claimed the crowd stampeded toward the trucks and allegedly looted supplies. Israeli officials attributed many casualties to overcrowding, trampling, and being run over by the trucks and said they would look into adapting its aid delivery protocols.

 

Hamas warned the incident may lead to a breakdown in negotiations over the release of roughly 100 remaining hostages and a potential cease-fire. Officials brokering the deal between Hamas and Israel previously said a six-week pause in fighting in exchange for a hostage release could be agreed upon soon.

 

The incident could also further complicate access to aid in Gaza due to the collapse of security in the enclave, observers said. At least one-quarter of Gaza's 2.3 million people face starvation, according to the UN.

 

Gaza's death toll now exceeds 30,000, per the Hamas-run Health Ministry. See more war updates here.

 

Return to Arrakis

"Dune: Part Two" is set to premiere today, projected to be one of the biggest movie debuts of 2024, pulling in as much as $80M domestically and $170M globally in its opening weekend.

 

The movie is the second part in an adaptation of "Dune," the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert that has sold over 20 million copies. The book is inspired by Herbert’s journalistic work covering an effort by the US Department of Agriculture to cultivate beach grass in the Oregon desert. Running at close to 900 pages in its paperback edition and set 20,000 years in the future, it is viewed as one of the most impactful sci-fi novels in contemporary writing, influencing the plot and scenery of legendary franchises, including "Star Wars" and "Game of Thrones."

 

A two-hour 1984 adaptation by David Lynch became a box office flop, edited from a much longer rough cut. "Dune: Part One" was released simultaneously in 2021 across theaters and streaming services to a $41M domestic debut. Analysts say "Dune: Part Two" could double that amount.

 

Texas Blaze Sets Record

The Smokehouse Creek Fire became the largest wildfire in Texas state history yesterday, with flames rapidly spreading across the state's panhandle and into Oklahoma. Roughly 1,700 square miles of primarily rural prairie and brush have been burned, with the blaze at 3% containment as of this writing (see current status). 

 

At least two people have been killed, including an 83-year-old women whose home burned down in the town of Stinnett. State officials also noted thousands of livestock, mostly cattle, have likely perished as the wildfire swept through the region. The panhandle is home to 85% of the state's 12 million cattle, many of which are reportedly safe from the blaze. Officials said critical fire conditions, including high winds and low humidity, are expected to return over the weekend. See photos and footage here.

 

To the north, a blizzard warning is in effect across the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe, with as much as 10 feet of snow expected to accumulate in the mountains. 

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7 Mistakes When Choosing A Financial Advisor

 

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Research suggests that people who work with a financial advisor feel more at ease about their finances and could end up with about 15% more money to spend in retirement.¹ But choosing the wrong one could potentially wreak havoc. Avoid these 7 mistakes when hiring an advisor so you can work to save years of stress. See the list.

 

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1. "Journal of Retirement Study Winter" (2020). The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please follow the link to see the methodologies employed in the Journal of Retirement study.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with NativePath

> Video game giant Electronic Arts lays off 670 employees, roughly 5% of its workforce, amid industrywide layoffs (More) | Universal Music Group begins previously announced layoffs across multiple company music labels (More)

> Héctor Ortiz, former MLB catcher and longtime Texas Rangers coach, dies of cancer at 54 (More) | Former WWE star Billy Jack Haynes charged with second-degree murder in connection with shooting death of his wife (More)

> Iowa's Caitlin Clark now 18 points from breaking all-time, men's or women's, NCAA basketball scoring record; Iowa takes on Ohio State Sunday to wrap up their regular season (More) | Clark declares for WNBA Draft, widely expected to be top pick (More)

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Science & Technology

> Prostate cancer involves two distinct subtypes, new study finds; results may lead to more targeted treatments for the disease, which affects one in eight adult men (More)

> Brain waves during sleep help flush cellular waste from the brain during sleep; rhythmic movement of neurons pushes cerebrospinal fluid through tissue, supports links between high-quality sleep and health (More)

> Daddy longlegs species found to have a set of underdeveloped eyes as embryos; vestigial organs implying some types of the insect diversified earlier than previously thought (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stocks markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.5%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq +0.9%); Nasdaq and S&P 500 rise to all-time highs (More) | Key inflation metric—personal consumption expenditures price index—rose 2.8% year-over-year, the slowest annual pace since March 2021 (More)

> OpenAI faces investigation from US Securities and Exchange Commission over whether company's investors were misled (More) | US Commerce Department launches probe into potential national security risks of smart vehicles produced in China and other countries (More)

> Weight Watchers shares drop 18% after Oprah Winfrey announces exit from company's board, plans to donate all her stock to a museum (More) | Humanoid robot startup Figure AI valued at $2.6B after raising funds from investors including Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, Amazon, OpenAI, and Microsoft (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Dual border trips made by President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump in separate locations; issue expected to play a key role in upcoming presidential campaigns (More) | Congress passes short-term funding extension to avert federal shutdown; new deadlines for two-phase funding bill are March 8 and 22 (More)

> Alabama lawmakers pass bill to protect in-vitro fertilization clinics in wake of state Supreme Court ruling granting frozen embryos personhood rights (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Former US ambassador to Bolivia admits to spying on behalf of Cuba, will plead guilty to espionage charges (More) | See background on the case here (More)

 

In-Depth

> Disney Adults

New Statesman | Amelia Tait. With its theme parks, films, and merchandise, Disney has created a whole new world for its lifelong consumers. One self-described "Disney adult" explores the cultural impact of the company's strategy. (Read)

 

> Mariana Dam Disaster

Dead River | Liz Bonnin. (Podcast) The story of the 2015 collapse of the Fundão dam—a reservoir for toxic mining sludge—which took 19 lives and saturated nearly 500 miles of waterways in Brazil's worst environmental incident. (Listen)

> The Lost Aviators of WWII

Smithsonian | Stephen Mihm. On Sept. 10, 1944, three US airmen serving in the Pacific were declared missing after their bomber was shot down. Nearly 80 years later, an extensive private search for the plane brought the remains of two of them home. (Read)

 

> Paris' Pneumatic Clocks

Primal Space | Ewan Cunningham. How the French capital utilized regular blasts of air via underground pipes to keep its thousands of public clocks timed perfectly, 50 years ahead of the earliest electronic clocks. (Watch)

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Best of Etcetera—February 2024
 

Editor's note: More than 10 million monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in February. Enjoy!

 

(2/7/24) What in tarnation is “tarnation?" 

 

(2/10/24) Wisconsin girl saves herself and sister after carjacking.

 

(2/19/24) Why Presidents Day is America's strangest holiday.

 

(2/28/24) America's happiest cities to live in

 

(2/16/24) Falling maggots force Delta flight to turn around.

 

(2/12/24) Satellite sleuth spots the military's secret X-37B spaceplane.

 

(2/12/24) Two-hundred-foot Alabama radio tower disappears without a trace.

 

(2/16/24) Scientists uncover the origin of bad breath

 

(2/22/24) Ranking US real-estate property taxes by state

 

(2/24/24) A father-daughter mirror dance routine goes viral on TikTok. (w/video)

 

Clickbait: Baseball stars sour on see-through pants.

 

Historybook: Articles of Confederation are ratified, go into effect in the US (1781); Writer Ralph Ellison born (1914); Singer Harry Belafonte born (1927); The Peace Corps is established (1961); Actress Lupita Nyong'o born (1983); Justin Bieber born (1994).

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- Ralph Ellison

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