12.5.2022

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Good morning. It's Monday, Dec. 5, and we're covering a concession in Iran, a collective complaint against Ticketmaster, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Morality Police Disbanded

Iranian officials signaled over the weekend it had shut down the country's guidance patrol, informally known as the morality police, amid ongoing protests sparked by the September death of a young woman while in custody. It marks the most significant concession by the government, which also said hijab laws would be reevaluated, since demonstrations began. 

 

Led primarily by women and younger Iranians, the protests began after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died under mysterious circumstances after reportedly being stopped in Tehran for not wearing a hijab (see overview). In the following weeks, the demonstration's spread from Amini's Kurdish home city of Saqqez to dozens of cities across Iran, with almost 450 people killed and 18,000 arrested by security forces.  

 

Observers have called the demonstrations the biggest challenge to the country's theocratic regime since the 1979 revolution, with protests largely spanning geography, social class, and age. See photos of the crowds here.

 

'Twitter Files' Leaked

A collection of internal email exchanges from social media giant Twitter was released over the weekend, with CEO Elon Musk implying they provided insight into the company's previous willingness to suppress content based on external requests. The disclosure, which appeared as a tweet thread from journalist Matt Taibbi, included debates by staff over how to justify censoring a high-profile story about Hunter Biden's recovered laptop during the 2020 presidential campaign under an ostensible "hacked materials" policy. 

 

Critics of the platform argue the documents show how Twitter allowed external requests from those with access—including the then-Biden campaign—to influence moderation decisions. Others argued the leak revealed the challenges in dealing with moderation decisions in real time and have thus far primarily focused on one example.

 

While Musk implicitly approved the revelation, posting about the coming release beforehand, it was unclear whether he was the source of the leak. Friday's thread is expected to be the first of many, with Taibbi saying he had received thousands of documents. 

 

Swifties Sue Ticketmaster

Over two dozen disgruntled Taylor Swift fans have filed a lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster, claiming the ticket seller's anticompetitive behavior led to last month's ticket sales debacle. As tickets for Swift's Eras Tour went on sale, company servers soon crashed as millions of fans with presale codes waited for hours online in vain. 

 

Ticketmaster has dominated the market in performance event ticket sales since the mid-1990s and today commands 80% of US market share. Amid its merger with concert promoter Live Nation in 2010, antitrust lawmakers warned the deal might catalyze anticompetitive behavior. The company has been accused of strong-arming venues or performers into using its portfolio of services several times over the decades, but some observers argue performers and the secondary market—where tickets are resold for a profit, often by bots—also contribute to elevated ticket prices. 

 

Aside from the latest lawsuit, both the US Senate and the Federal Trade Commission are set to investigate issues at Live Nation amid calls for the company to be broken up.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Georgia, Michigan, TCU, Ohio State selected for College Football Playoff (Dec. 31) (More) | See complete college football bowl schedule (More)

> George Clooney, Gladys Knight, and U2 among 2022 Kennedy Center honorees, chosen for their lifetime contributions to American culture (More)

> The US eliminated from World Cup after 3-1 loss to the Netherlands (More) | See updated knockout bracket (More) | Fred McGriff elected to Baseball Hall of Fame via Contemporary Era ballot; Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens among players not selected (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Russian administrative offices hit by never-before-seen malware; reports suggest CryWiper appears as a ransomware attack but is designed to permanently erase data (More)

> Novel HIV vaccine approach shows success in generating neutralizing antibodies against the virus in Phase 1 clinical trials in human subjects (More) | How do antibodies work? (More, w/video)

> James Webb Space Telescope identifies clouds on Saturn's moon Titan; the moon is the only planetary object in the solar system besides Earth with rivers, lakes, and oceans (More)

 

Business & Markets

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> US stock markets close mixed Friday (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq -0.2%) but end the week higher (More)

> OPEC+ keeps current policy to reduce oil production through the end of the year; European Union plans to ban Russian oil imports starting today, G-7 nations impose price cap on Russian oil (More)

> AT&T agrees to pay $6.25M penalty to settle SEC lawsuit accusing company of leaking information to Wall Street analysts (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Democratic National Committee's rule-making arm votes to make South Carolina first voting state in 2024, the first presidential primary without Iowa leading since 1968; full approval expected next year (More) | See current calendar (More

> Iranians execute four suspected Israeli spies Sunday (More) | Nine killed, eight missing after flash floods swept through a church gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday (More) | At least 2,500 dead seals wash up on shores of Caspian Sea in southeast Russia (More

> Gunshot damage to two power stations likely cause of loss of power to at least 40,000 households in North Carolina Saturday; authorities investigating (More)

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Etcetera
 

One person's experience with upward mobility in the US.

 

The Associated Press' best photos of the year.

 

Ocean researchers discover dozens of new deep sea creatures (w/photos).

 

... and watch a diver crack an egg underwater

 

Examining Yellowstone's underground magma chambers.

 

Fifty-two random facts learned in 2022

 

The (marginally) true story behind the viral "Cocaine Bear."

 

A mesmerizing domino structure crashes down. (via Reddit)

 

Clickbait: Lindsay Lohan wants you to drink milk-pop

 

Historybook: Mozart dies (1791); Walt Disney born (1901); Rosa Parks helps lead Montgomery bus boycotts (1955); 21st Amendment ratified in the US, repealing the nationwide ban on alcohol (1933); Nelson Mandela dies (2013).

"The only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

- Rosa Parks

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