10.16.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Monday, Oct. 16, and we're covering a waiting game in Gaza, a turbulent election in Ecuador, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Evacuations in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday the country's military operations were focused on completely dismantling Hamas, signaling Israel is planning to mount a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip. The comments come a week after an invasion and subsequent brutal attack by Hamas against unsuspecting civilians in southern Israel (see previous write-up).

 

Hundreds of thousands of troops have amassed at the border with Gaza, while Israel urged residents in northern Gaza to evacuate southward. Analysts say the operation is expected to begin in northern Gaza, focusing on a network of underground tunnels used by Hamas.  

 

International officials continued to warn of an impending humanitarian crisis—particularly at hospitals and shelters—following a full blockade by Israel of goods entering Gaza. Israel has argued the blockade is necessary to push Hamas to release more than 100 hostages taken during the initial attack.  

 

As of this writing, the combined death toll has passed 4,000 civilians, including at least 1,400 Israelis and more than 2,600 Palestinians. Close to 30 Americans are believed to be among those killed.

 

Separately, the US sent a second aircraft carrier, the USS Eisenhower, to the Eastern Mediterranean in hopes of deterring the escalation of a broader regional conflict. See a breakdown of the US-supplied military hardware used by Israel here.

 

AI Unwraps Ancient Scrolls

A newly developed machine learning algorithm has, for the first time, decoded parts of a burned manuscript recovered from the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum. The breakthrough was made by 21-year-old Luke Farritor, a University of Nebraska computer science student, as part of a $1M competition to digitally restore the scrolls. A single full word, translated as "purple," was revealed.  

 

Situated just west of Mount Vesuvius, the city fell victim to the same massive first-century eruption that buried nearby Pompeii. Like its neighbor, much of the city was preserved under a blanket of ash. Roughly 1,800 manuscripts were accidentally found in the mid-18th century—charred but intact—housed in a single villa potentially owned by the father-in-law of Julius Caeser

 

Farritor was awarded $40K for being the first to identify a single word—the competition's $700K grand prize goes to the first team to decode four separate passages (read more here).

 

Ecuador Votes

Conservative lawmaker Daniel Noboa defeated leftist Luisa Gonzalez in Ecuador's presidential race Sunday, garnering roughly 52% of the vote and capping a six-month campaign that saw one of its leading candidates assassinated amid a wider surge in gang-related violence. 

 

At 35, Noboa will become the youngest president in Ecuador's history, achieving the goal his father Álvaro Noboa—the country's wealthiest individual—aspired to five times. Noboa has held positions in his father's businesses—including Bonita bananas, a major exporter of the fruit—and was elected to the National Assembly in 2021. His campaign focused on reducing record crime levels, increasing youth employment, and expanding healthcare access while reducing taxes.   

 

The irregular election was called after current president, Guillermo Lasso, utilized a constitutional mechanism in April that both dissolved the legislature and triggered new elections as he faced an impeachment trial over embezzlement charges. Noboa will face reelection in just a year and a half.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Suzanne Somers, actress and fitness icon best known for starring role on "Three's Company," dies at 76 (More) | Piper Laurie, three time Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress, dies at 91 (More)

> "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" concert film hauls in $130M at global box office in its opening weekend becoming the highest-grossing concert film ever (More)

> New York Liberty top Las Vegas Aces 87-73 to win Game 3 of the WNBA Finals; the Aces lead the series 2-1 (More) | Over 55,000 fans attend charity game between Iowa and DePaul, setting women's basketball attendance record (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Antarctic ice shelf survey reveals 40% have lost significant volume since 1997, releasing roughly 74 trillion tons of meltwater into the ocean (More) | Visualizing Antarctic ice loss (More)

> Researchers find nervous system mechanism behind both the need to itch and the sense of relief after scratching; may lead to new therapies for eczema and other skin conditions (More)

> Scientists discover exoplanet believed to be made nearly entirely of iron; located 31 light-years away, the planet is twice as dense as Earth and orbits its star every 7.7 hours (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with Mode Mobile

> US stock markets close mixed Friday (S&P 500 -0.5%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq -1.2%); S&P 500 up for second consecutive week (More)

> JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo all beat Q3 earnings estimates as higher interest rates drive increased revenues (More)

> Biden administration awards $7B to seven US hubs aiming to increase the development of hydrogen fuel (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> New Zealand's conservative National Party defeats governing Labor Party with 39% of the vote, former airline exec Christopher Luxon to be prime minister; Luxon to form coalition with libertarian ACT Party (More) | Poland's right-wing governing party ousted by opposition coalition in elections yesterday (More

> Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) wins jungle primary for Louisiana governor outright, flips office back to Republicans; outgoing Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) was term-limited (More) | What is a jungle primary? (More)

> President Joe Biden's campaign raises over $70M in quarter ending September; haul outpaces current GOP contenders but is less than former President Donald Trump's $120M raise in the same quarter of 2019 (More)

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Etcetera
 

Saturday's Ring of Fire eclipse, in photos.

 

This artist creates portraits out of pebbles

 

How spandex became standard for superheroes

 

The newest way to laugh over text: IJBOL

 

Why bedbugs just keep spreading

 

America graduates its first space ranger.

 

Buy your next Ferrari with your cryptocurrency

 

Teenager solves Rubik's cube in record time—while skydiving.

 

Clickbait: The domino effect, but with cereal boxes.

 

Historybook: Marie Antoinette is executed (1793); Author Oscar Wilde born (1854); The Walt Disney Co. is founded (1923); Actress Angela Lansbury born (1925); Tony, Academy, and Emmy Award-winning actress Shirley Booth dies (1992).

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