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Good morning. It's Monday, Oct. 9, and we're covering the most significant escalation of violence in the Middle East in decades, a deadly earthquake, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Hamas Attacks Israel

Hundreds of people are dead and thousands more injured in Israel and the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise raid into Israel over the weekend. Reports suggest at least 700 Israelis have been killed, many of whom were civilians, while more than 400 Palestinians have died. Almost 5,000 people have been injured across both sides. The attack came one day after the 50th anniversary of the fourth Arab-Israeli war. 


Fighting began early Saturday (see photos), with Hamas launching thousands of rockets at cities across Israel, demolishing parts of a border fence, and infiltrating nine towns in southern Israel. Hamas fighters reportedly targeted both military sites and civilians, including opening fire on a late-night dance party near the Israeli-Gaza border that left at least 260 dead. 


Officials said as many as 130 Israeli civilians and soldiers had been taken hostage by militants, with some taken back to Gaza. Israel contacted Egypt to assist in their return; their status is currently unknown as of this writing. 


The Gaza Strip is a nearly 140 square mile area, home to roughly 2 million people, whose borders are controlled largely by Israel—tightly restricting the flow of goods and people in and out of the country. Hamas, both a militant group and political party with the stated goal of destroying Israel, has run Gaza internally since 2007. 


By yesterday afternoon, the US had deployed a carrier strike group to the Mediterranean in support of Israel. Events continue to unfold; see updates here


Quake Strikes Afghanistan

Roughly 2,400 people have died, and many more are trapped in western Afghanistan, after a pair of 6.3 magnitude earthquakes rocked Asia's poorest nation Sunday. The city of Herat, the nation's third-largest with over 600,000 residents, was the worst affected, with the quake's epicenter just 25 miles northwest of the provincial hub.


The Taliban-led nation has seen both government revenues and humanitarian aid dry up in the two years since the Islamist group's swift takeover on the heels of the United States' exit, crippling its already weak economy and exacerbating its ability to respond to disasters. The United Nations estimates nearly half its 39 million citizens face severe hunger. The deadly event follows last June's 5.9 magnitude quake, which saw over 1,000 killed.


The region sits at the intersection of three tectonic plates—Indian, Eurasian, and Arabian—and is part of the Alpide belt, the world's second-most seismically active fault. See photos of the damage here.


A New Marathon Record

Kenyan long-distance runner Kelvin Kiptum set a new, formally recognized marathon world record Sunday, finishing the Chicago Marathon in just over two hours. His 2:00:35 mark eclipses former record-holder Eliud Kipchoge's time of 2:01:09 (set last year in Berlin) and makes Kiptum the first athlete to finish under two hours and one minute in a record-eligible competition. On the women's side, Dutch runner Sifan Hassan set the second-fastest women's time on record, finishing in 2:13:44.


Record times have consistently trended downward (see chart), with records in recent years in part driven by advancements in running shoe technology. Nike unveiled its Vaporfly series in 2017, which the company claims increases running efficiency by up to 4%. Kiptum reportedly wore a pair of Nike prototypes not available to the general public. 


More recently, Adidas—whose runners dominated this year's Boston Marathon—released a $600 model meant to be worn a single time. See why some have characterized new shoe models as "technological doping" here.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Las Vegas Aces top New York Liberty 99-82 to take Game 1 of the best-of-five WNBA Finals (More)

> Rapper Drake to take break from music career due to health issues (More) | Terence Davies, British screenwriter and director, dies at 77 (More)

> Simone Biles wins two more gold medals at 2023 Gymnastics World Championships, bringing her career combined world and Olympic medal count to a record 37 (More)


Science & Technology

In partnership with Brilliant

> Nobel Prize in Economics to be announced this morning; see winners here (More) | See previous write-up covering the rest of the winners from last week (More)

> Independent analysis confirms age of ancient human footprints found in New Mexico, suggesting humans reached North America as early as 23,000 years ago (More)

> Astronomers observe the most energetic pulsar detected to date; object is located in the Vela constellation, roughly 960 light-years away (More) | What are pulsars? (More, w/video)


Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher Friday (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +1.6%) after September jobs report release beats expectations (More)

> Area around Lahaina, Hawaii, begins to welcome tourists back following August wildfire that left at least 98 people dead (More)

> Pioneer Natural Resources shares up 10% Friday on rumors Exxon Mobil Corp. is in discussions to acquire the energy company for nearly $60B (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Bipartisan group of US senators arrive in China for high-level talks with Communist Party leadership Sunday; first visit in four years for US lawmakers, group unlikely to meet with President Xi Jinping (More) | Satellite imagery shows rail traffic from North Korea to Russia has increased (More

> One killed, eight injured in mass shooting at community center near Indiana University of Pennsylvania early Sunday; shooter remains at large (More)

> Egyptian police officer opens fire on tourists in Alexandria, killing two Israelis and one Egyptian Sunday; assailant detained (More) | Seven men accused of assassinating Ecuadorian presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio in August slain in prison over the weekend (More

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Three in 10 US adults claim no religious affiliation.


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New satellite tracks Earth's literal hot spots. (w/images)


North America's largest Hindu temple opens in New Jersey


Cat folded into couch wins award for oddest medical claim.


Speedo-clad streaker tackled by baseball security guards.


Clickbait: Saddle up; it's Croctober


Historybook: John Lennon born (1940); Landslide in Italy kills more than 2,000 (1963); Cuban Revolution figure Che Guevara is executed (1967); Women and girl's education activist Malala Yousafzai survives assassination attempt (2012). 

"We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced."

- Malala Yousafzai

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