12.8.2022

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Thursday, Dec. 8, and we're covering an alleged coup plot in Germany, a groundbreaking DNA discovery, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

German Coup Arrests

Twenty-five people suspected of plotting to overthrow the German government were arrested early yesterday in raids involving thousands of officers across Germany. More than two dozen others are being investigated in relation to the scheme.

 

Prosecutors claim the group consists of members of the Reichsbürger movement, an association that reportedly views the post-World War 2 government as illegitimate. Members allegedly made plans to storm legislative assemblies and to position its members as ministers of a new state. Among those detained were a former lawmaker, several soldiers, and Heinrich XII—a descendant of a lesser-known royal family who reportedly reached out to Russian ambassadors as part of the plot.

 

The arrests come amid a surge in antistate activity in Germany, partly in response to pandemic restrictions, including a failed attempt to storm parliament in 2020. Earlier this year, German officials announced they would disarm 1,500 extremists as part of a crackdown on domestic threats.

 

Moore v. Harper

The US Supreme Court yesterday heard oral arguments in a case over the degree to which state legislatures have the authority to regulate federal elections and processes and how much oversight state courts have.

 

At the center of Moore v. Harper is the independent state legislature theory, which rests on two provisions of the Constitution: Article I's elections clause and Article II's electors clause. Proponents of the theory contend the two clauses say state courts don't have the authority to supervise how state legislatures run congressional and presidential elections, while critics argue the clauses haven't been fully understood to assume unchecked authority. 

 

The case is an appeal of a ruling by the North Carolina Supreme Court that ordered a new congressional map after finding the state's Republican version violated the North Carolina Constitution because it displayed characteristics of partisan gerrymandering (see 101). A decision on the case is expected next summer. 

 

Oldest-Known DNA Discovered

In an unprecedented genetic analysis, scientists have recovered and analyzed the oldest-known DNA from more than 100 plants and animals that thrived in Northern Greenland roughly 2 million years ago. The study provides insight not only into the characteristics of individual species but also paints a broad picture of a prehistoric ecosystem unachievable using any other single method. 

 

Instead of studying individual specimens, researchers examined chunks of preserved Arctic permafrost for fragments of genetic material dispersed through the sediment (what is eDNA?). The search identified 102 types of plants, including 24 previously undiscovered, along with dozens of creatures—including mastodons, horseshoe crabs, ants, and more. Taken together, the results suggest the now arid Arctic desert was once a temperate forest with warm coastal waters. 

 

Researchers hope to extend the work to other areas where climate and geology may have preserved genetic material for millions of years. Learn more about the Pleistocene epoch here.

In partnership with reAlpha

Final Day for Rental Revenues

 

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That’s because industry titans and everyday investors alike are excited about the reAlpha’s plan to break down barriers to entry in the $1.2T vacation real estate market. In fact, their lineup of major backers includes $200M in financing from Churchill Real Estate, $100M in post-IPO financing from GEM Global, and another $40.8M equity deal to acquire top properties. With huge players already on board, now could be the time for you to join them by becoming a reAlpha shareholder.

 

But you have to act fast. Today is the last day for investors to access reAlpha’s private fundraising round. Become a reAlpha shareholder before the opportunity ends tonight at midnight PST.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Time magazine selects Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the "spirit of Ukraine" as its 2022 Person of the Year (More)

> The 2023 Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 19-29) announces full lineup of 101 feature films for its first in-person festival since 2020 (More) | Part one of Prince Harry and wife Meghan's documentary detailing royal fallout debuts today on Netflix (More)

> New York Yankees re-sign reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge to nine-year, $360M deal, one of the most lucrative contracts in MLB history (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Uber and self-driving vehicle startup Motional launch autonomous robotaxi operation in Las Vegas; cars will have human safety operators riding along until sometime in 2023 (More)

> Researchers identify more than 2,300 genes associated with increased risk of chronic tobacco and alcohol use; genetic factors were consistent across American, European, African, and Asian ancestries (More)

> "Heart attack on a chip" replicates key features of the heart during cardiac arrest, may act as a test bed for future drug testing without the need for patients (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.2%, Dow 0.0%, Nasdaq -0.5%); S&P 500 falls for fifth consecutive session (More) | State of Indiana sues TikTok for allegedly misleading users regarding China’s data access and violating child safety (More

> Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, former chief operating officer of failed blood-testing startup Theranos, sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for fraud; former Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced in November to over 11 years in prison (More)

> Candy giant Ferrero to acquire Wells Enterprises, second-largest US ice cream maker and owner of brands such as Blue Bunny and Halo Top (More)

From our partners: This credit card is a reward-seeker's dream, offering unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases and a $200 welcome bonus. The Ascent's independent team of experts is calling it one of the best all-around cards. Learn more today.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Peru swears in Vice President Dina Boluarte to lead the country following President Pedro Castillo's impeachment and arrest after his attempt to dissolve Congress; Boluarte becomes first female leader of Peru (More) | Indonesia paroles bombmaker responsible for 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people (More)

> China eases coronavirus restrictions following mass protests over its "zero-COVID" approach, which requires stringent lockdowns in response to an outbreak in cases (More) | See data on COVID-19 cases in China (More)

> Justice Department watchdog report finds Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was beaten to death in his cell in 2018 after inmates were tipped off on his transfer from Florida to a West Virginia federal prison (More) | Who is James "Whitey" Bulger? (More

 

In-Depth

> AI Homework

Stratechery | Ben Thompson. How homework is the first casualty of large language learning models, and why verifying and editing information is ever more important in the era of artificial intelligence. (Read)

 

> Eight Friends and Fentanyl

Washington Post | Staff. How the opioid fentanyl and other drugs worked their way through a group of friends, year after year and loss upon loss for nearly a decade until almost no one was left. (Read)

Accessible Alternative Asset Class

 

In partnership with reAlpha

 

Demand for vacation rentals (think Airbnb and VRBO) is significantly outpacing supply. In fact, Airbnb hosts collectively made a record $34B last year.

 

Now, reAlpha is giving everyday investors access to this $1.2T market with a portfolio of AI-vetted vacation properties. And major industry players are taking notice. In fact, Churchill Real Estate awarded reAlpha a $200M financing facility—one of the largest in industry history—and more have followed suit. Right now, you can invest alongside these industry titans by becoming a reAlpha shareholder. The opportunity ends at midnight PST.

Please support our sponsors!

Etcetera
 

Google announces the top searches in 2022.

 

Inflation hits the “12 Days of Christmas.”

 

Illinois man goes all-out for the Festival of Lights.
 

… and the cost of running Christmas lights in all 50 states.

 

The top toy from the year you were born.

 

The five states with the highest population growth.

 

Six strange animal behaviors revealed this year.

 

A 3D map showing us the world in a new way.

 

Clickbait: An Elf on the Shelf for carrying out covert Christmas ops.

 

Historybook: Mary, Queen of Scots born (1542); The US declares war on Japan (1941); Musician Jim Morrison born (1943); John Lennon murdered outside his residence in New York City (1980); North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, signed into law (1993); Astronaut and senator John Glenn dies (2016).

"We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves."

- John Glenn

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