1.24.2023

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Jan. 24, and we're covering a second mass shooting in California in less than a week, Microsoft's multibillion-dollar investment in ChatGPT's creator, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Breaking news:  At least seven people were shot and killed yesterday in two separate locations in Half Moon Bay, California, marking the second mass shooting in the state in three days. A 67-year-old male suspect is in custody. This is a developing story, read more here.

Pakistan Loses Power

Millions of Pakistanis were without electricity or internet Monday for the second time in three months after an overnight cost-saving measure of planned temporary blackouts led to widespread outages. Power was said to be restored after 15 hours late Monday, making it one of the nation's longest outages. 

 

Government officials claimed an irregular voltage fluctuation occurred when operators were returning the system to normal levels after overnight conservation. Planned blackouts are common in the country of 220 million, where most homes, offices, and public institutions are equipped with backup generators. For decades, Pakistan has accumulated debt by subsidizing imported energy to residents at a loss, leaving few resources to invest in the maintenance of its complex grid. See the numbers on Pakistan's energy use here.

 

The outage comes six months after destructive floods claimed over 1,000 lives. Separately, the country's foreign reserves—used to pay for imports, including fuel—have reached a decade low amid the International Monetary Fund's delay of its latest aid package

 

Murdaugh Trial Begins

The trial of former South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, charged with the June 2021 double homicide of his wife and son, began yesterday.

 

Murdaugh is accused of shooting his son, Paul, and his wife, Maggie, June 7, 2021, near the dog kennels on their hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina (see map). Prosecutors have suggested he killed his family to distract attention from his financial crimes. In 2019, Paul Murdaugh was accused of boating under the influence in a crash that killed a 19-year-old woman. The woman's family sued, and a hearing was set for June 10, 2021, regarding the family's request to see Alex Murdaugh's financial records.

 

Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison without parole and a minimum of 30 years. He also faces about 100 additional criminal counts, including a fraudulent suicide attempt so his elder son could collect a $10M life insurance policy, among other charges. 

 

See a timeline here and deep dive into the case here.

 

Microsoft Invests Billions in AI

Microsoft announced yesterday it is expanding its partnership with OpenAI, the start-up behind the viral ChatGPT chatbot (see overview), with a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment. Specific financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but reports say Microsoft is expected to invest $10B, in addition to the $3B it has already invested since 2019. 

 

The investment will allow both companies to commercialize advanced artificial intelligence technologies and allow Microsoft to pursue a potential edge against competitor Google for the future of internet search. Microsoft was previously reported to be launching a ChatGPT-powered version of Bing in its bid to rival Google's Knowledge Graph (see 101), which helps produce instant answers to Google users' questions. 

 

Microsoft plans to continue to incorporate OpenAI's models across its products, which include Microsoft-owned GitHub Copilot and Microsoft Designer, while OpenAI will continue to exclusively use Microsoft's Azure cloud platform as it improves and scales existing technologies, including text generator GPT, image generator DALL-E, and text-to-code generator Codex. 

 

Play with ChatGPT here. Explore DALL-E here

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> 2023 Academy Award nominations announced this morning (8:30 am ET, streaming) (More) | See predictions for each Oscars category (More)

> The US sends three men to Australian Open quarterfinals for first time since 2000 (More) | See complete Australian Open bracket (More)

> Netflix purchases global rights to "Fair Play" at Sundance Film Festival in $20M deal (More) | Tim Allen denies allegations by Pamela Anderson that Allen flashed her on "Home Improvement" set (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Earthquake data suggest the Earth's inner core may have begun rotating slower than its outer shells sometime around 2009 (More) | Take an animated journey to the center of the planet (More)

> Paleontologists discover new pterosaur species with more than 400 small, sharp teeth; find suggests the creature possibly had a feeding mechanism somewhat similar to modern-day baleen whales (More)

> US health officials propose shifting to a once-a-year COVID-19 booster for children and adults, similar to the flu shot schedule (More) | More than 80% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose; around 15% have received a booster (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +0.8%, Nasdaq +2.0%) led by rally in tech stocks (More)

> Streaming music giant Spotify to lay off 6% of workforce, or roughly 600 employees (More)

> Hedge fund Citadel reports a record $16B in profits for clients last year, fund returned 38% in 2022 (More) | Activist hedge fund investor Elliott has taken a multibillion-dollar position in cloud computing giant Salesforce (More

From our partners: Make your travel more rewarding. Travel is surging again, and experts at The Ascent have done the research for you to make the most of your points—so you can fly more. These 5 travel cards are among the best they've ever seen. Check out the list of these high-flying cards for free today.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Death toll in Monterey Park, California, dance hall shooting rises to 11 as investigation over shooter's motive continues (More) | Coroner releases names of two victims (More) | Two students dead, one teacher injured, after shooting at a Des Moines, Iowa, youth outreach center; suspects are in custody (More)

> Russia and Estonia remove ambassadors from each other's countries amid strained relations from Russia's invasion of Ukraine (More) | See war updates (More) | Former FBI official arrested for charges including money laundering and violating sanctions against Russia while working with an oligarch (More

> Four Oath Keepers members convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the US Capitol, marking the second set of seditious conspiracy convictions against the antigovernment militia group (More

 

In-Depth

> Human Cannonballs

Narratively | Abigail Edge. The story of the Smith family, who left their regular jobs with six children in tow to perform circus stunts. Even after announcing their retirement in 1978, the circus life kept calling them. (Read)

 

> America’s Pickup Trucks

Axios | Staff. Sales of massive pickup trucks are bringing in record profits. However, road safety advocates warn against the hazardous nature of such trucks, given their size, weight, and large blind spots. See a visual breakdown here. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Ranking the world's ugliest buildings

 

A 12-million-year-old whale fossil skull found in Maryland.

 

A school's creative snow day announcement

 

Man photographs real-life "Angry Bird" in his backyard

 

M&M's ditches iconic spokescandies

 

A paid gig for cheese lovers.

 

Breakdancing will soon be an Olympic sport

 

Toilet-shaped plants that thrive on mammal droppings.

 

Clickbait: Terrifying or hilarious? AI tech that can deepfake your eyes.

 

Historybook: Winston Churchill dies (1965); Actress Sharon Tate born (1943); Ted Bundy executed (1989); Thurgood Marshall dies (1993); Department of Homeland Security opens (2003).

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