7.25.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, July 25, and we're covering raging fires across popular Greek islands, an eyeball-scanning cryptocurrency project, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Israel Limits Supreme Court

Israel's legislature voted to proceed yesterday with a highly contested law that will limit the Supreme Court's power to overrule government actions it deems "unreasonable." Backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the measure was passed with a 64-0 vote after the 56-member opposition walked out of the chamber in a boycott.

 

The bill is part of a series of reforms aimed at reducing the court's influence—including giving the government control over the appointment of judges—and has triggered 29 consecutive weeks of protests across the country (see our previous write-up). Supporters argue the changes are necessary to balance the court, while critics claim the reforms give Netanyahu nearly unchecked power and weaken the court. 

 

The Movement for Quality Government, an Israeli nongovernmental organization, filed a petition to block the law with the Supreme Court immediately after the vote took place, citing its unconstitutionality and potential to disrupt the system of checks and balances. See an explanation of the reforms here.

 

Greek Islands Wildfires

Wildfires across three popular Greek islands have triggered what authorities consider to be the largest fire evacuation in Greece's history, prompting roughly 32,000 tourists and residents to flee to safety as hundreds more await evacuations in gyms, schools, and hotel lobbies. No injuries have been reported.

 

A heat wave across southern Europe and high winds have partly contributed to the spread of the wildfires in the islands of Rhodes, Corfu, and Evia, with temperatures expected to reach highs of between 107 and 111 degrees Fahrenheit today. Greece has seen roughly 600 fires over the last 12 days, or 50 new fires a day, officials said. They also said some of the fires may have been started by arson. See satellite imagery of the Rhodes wildfires here. See video of the fires in Corfu here (via Twitter). 

 

The European Union and neighboring countries, including Turkey, Croatia, and Egypt, have sent in firefighters and aircraft to help Greek authorities tackle the fires. 

 

Worldcoin Launches

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, the creator of AI chatbot ChatGPT, announced the launch of Worldcoin in 20 countries yesterday, an ambitious digital currency and user-identification network. The culmination of a three-year project, it aims to reliably distinguish humans from bots online while ensuring user privacy, among other broader social equity goals (see background).

 

The coin—which is not yet available in the US due to regulatory issues—is tied to a novel proof-of-personhood system called WorldID, a mechanism that creates digital proof of a user's unique humanity. The system works by having users scan their eyeballs with the company's so-called "Orb," a bowling ball-sized chrome scanner—only available in select locations—which generates and stores a unique digital fingerprint (see explainer). A 2021 report outlines various ethical issues with the project's early stages scanning thousands of beta users in developing countries. 

 

To incentivize adoption, the company is offering weekly deposits of one Worldcoin to users, with one coin valued at just over $2 as of this writing. 

In partnership with Masterworks

The Everyday Investors Beating Billionaires

 

When incredibly valuable assets come up for sale, it's typically the wealthiest people that end up taking home an amazing investment. But not always …

 

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It's called Masterworks. The nearly $1 billion collection includes works by greats like Banksy, Picasso, and Basquiat. When Masterworks sells a painting—like the 14 it's already sold—investors reap their portion of the net proceeds. Offerings can sell out in just minutes but as a trusted partner, 1440 readers can skip the waitlist with this exclusive link.*

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

Paris Saint-Germain accepts record-breaking $332M transfer offer from Saudi club Al Hilal for French superstar Kylian Mbappé (More) | FIFA Women's World Cup group stage continues; see latest group standings and schedule (More)

> Ex-volleyball and ex-football player among the latest former student athletes to file lawsuits against Northwestern University over hazing allegations (More)

> Jury deliberations begin in Kevin Spacey's London criminal trial on sexual assault charges (More) | George Alagiah, longtime BBC journalist and author, dies of cancer at 67 (More)

From our partners: A credit card that checks all the right boxes. Like a $200 welcome bonus after spending $500 within three months (check), a $0 annual fee (check), unlimited cash back on basically every purchase (check), and 0% intro APR into 2024 (check). Learn more about this top-rated card and apply today.

 

Science & Technology

> Twitter owner Elon Musk reveals interim "X" logo, replaces company's longstanding bird icon on the platform (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Plane manufacturer Embraer says it will build new flying taxi production facility near São Paulo, Brazil, aims to test flights with new aircraft by 2026 (More)

> Scientists create anticancer therapy via "click chemistry"; formulation combines three components—one targeting cancer cells, one attracting immune system T cells, and one disabling cancer cell's defenses (More) | How does click chemistry work? (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.4%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +0.2%); Dow up for 11th consecutive session, first time since 2017 (More)

> Federal Reserve to fine UBS $387M for risk management misconduct related to Credit Suisse’s dealings with failed hedge fund Archegos (More)

> FedEx pilots reject contract proposal of 30% pay increase; negotiations to be supervised by National Mediation Board (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Russia accuses Ukraine of drone strikes on nonresidential buildings in Moscow as Russian forces strike port infrastructure on the Danube River in southern Ukraine (More) | See more updates on the war (More)

> Justice Department files lawsuit against Texas over buoy barrier deployed in the Rio Grande meant to deter border crossings; DOJ says Texas officials were required to request and obtain permission from the federal government (More

> At least 11 people killed and 10 others trapped in northeastern China after roof of school gym collapses (More) | North Korea fires two ballistic missiles after second US submarine arrives in South Korea (More

 

In-Depth

> 'The Vanishing Family'

NY Times Mag | Robert Kolker. A portrait of a family where every member has a 50% chance of having a genetic mutation that causes early-onset dementia and what it is like to live with that knowledge. (Read)

 

> Killer Eye Drops

Bloomberg | Peter Robison, Priyanka Pulla. In 2022, drugstore eye drops containing an antibiotic-resistant superbug killed four and resulted in 18 cases of vision loss. A look at how the drops, made in an Indian factory, slipped past the Food and Drug Administration. (Read)

In partnership with Masterworks

“Risk-Free” 5% Means Maybe Missing Out on 35%

 

Thanks to interest rate hikes, investors can finally earn more on their cash. 

 

But while having a “risk-free” return seems comforting, there’s a hidden cost: opportunity. Like the opportunity to invest in Masterworks, an award-winning platform for investing in blue-chip art. So far, it has achieved a 100% positive net returns track record for investors. 1440 readers can skip the waitlist here.* 

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Etcetera
 

Scientists unveil a new avocado variety: Luna

 

Ranking US states with the best (and worst) school systems.

 

Drone footage captures devastating flooding in Nova Scotia.  

 

How math is everywhere—from soap bubbles to Pixar movies.

 

The eight habits that could add up to 24 years to your life.

 

How McDonald's designs its international menus (w/video). 

 

Welsh whiskey has been granted protected status

 

Cher launches "Cherlato," a gelato company

 

Clickbait: And the winner of the Hemingway look-a-like contest is ...

 

Historybook: DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin born (1920); Football great Walter Payton born (1953 or 1954); First baby born via in vitro fertilization (1978); Rock Hudson is first major celeb to announce AIDS diagnosis (1985); Concorde Air France crash kills 113 (2000).

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- Walter Payton

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*See important disclosures at masterworks.com/cd

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