12.8.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Dec. 8, and we're covering fighting in southern Gaza's largest city, a fast food spinoff, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Israel Advances in Khan Younis

Israel officials said its forces had advanced into the center of Khan Younis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip. As of yesterday evening, troops had encircled the home of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas within Gaza who helped plan the Oct. 7 attack, which left around 1,200 civilians dead and included multiple instances of sexual violence. 

 

It was unclear whether Sinwar remains in the home or had escaped to Hamas' intricate underground tunnel network. While Sinwar oversees operations on the ground, Hamas is led by two others—military head Mohammed Deif (whereabouts unknown) and political chief Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in Qatar.

 

The war has forced almost 2 million Gazans—close to the strip's entire population—to flee their homes into refugee camps across the roughly 90 square miles of central and southern Gaza. Israel yesterday presented evidence Hamas had fired rockets from areas designated as humanitarian zones, raising additional concern over the safety of fleeing Palestinians.

 

The death toll in Gaza has reportedly surpassed 17,000 Palestinians (it is unclear whether Hamas fighters are included in the count), while 140 Israeli hostages taken in the initial Hamas attack remain captive.  

 

See updates on the war (with maps) here.

 

Biden Drug Patents Proposal

The Biden administration announced a proposal yesterday that would allow federal agencies to break taxpayer-funded patents of high-cost drugs, citing a broadened interpretation of a 1980 patent law. The initiative prompted a 60-day public comment period.

 

Before 1980, publicly funded development projects—like those from NASA—were owned by the US government by default. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act sought to spur the commercialization of thousands of unused patents by allowing federally supported inventors to own their products outright. As part of the law, the government retained certain rights to "march-in" and hand the patent to a third party or itself. Agencies have rejected every petition to do so (see timeline). As recently as March, the National Institutes of Health declined to use the mechanism to slash the price of prostate cancer drug Xtandi.

 

Officials claimed—for the first time—the law allows its agencies to seize patents of high-cost drugs based on that criterion alone, without specifying which medicines were possible targets of the mechanism. Critics argue the step will deter innovation. 

 

CosMc's Enters the Universe

McDonald's will open its first CosMc's restaurant in Bolingbrook, Illinois, this month as part of a limited test of its small-format, drinks-focused spinoff. 

 

The restaurant—inspired by the 1980s and 1990s alien character CosMc, who craved McDonald's food—taps into the nostalgia the company has stirred from recent marketing campaigns, including the Grimace Shake and the return of McNugget Buddies. Alongside familiar classics, like the Egg McMuffin and M&M's McFlurry, CosMc's will feature specialty lemonades, teas, cold coffee blends, and new options like s'mores cold brews, popping pear slushies, and a spicy queso sandwich. See the sample menu here.

 

McDonald's plans to open 10 CosMc's locations by the end of 2024 in an effort to compete with the likes of Starbucks and Dunkin'. The other nine locations will be based across the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio metro areas. The news comes after the fast food giant announced this week plans to open nearly 10,000 new stores globally by 2027.

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Sources: 1. "What’s the value of a financial advisor?", Herbers & Company (Dec. 2021)

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Former world No. 1 Jon Rahm to leave PGA Tour; Spanish golfer will join Saudi-backed LIV Golf in deal reportedly worth $300M (More) | San Diego Padres star Juan Soto traded to New York Yankees in seven-player deal (More)

> "Squid Game: The Challenge," a spinoff of the breakout Netflix drama "Squid Game," crowns winner of $4.56M prize, thought to be largest in reality TV history (More)

> Art Basel, thought to be North America's largest art fair, begins today from Miami Beach; see full preview of events and exhibitions (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with Autonomix

> Meta releases AI image generator, Imagine, trained on an estimated 1.1 billion public Facebook and Instagram photos (More) | Use the platform here (More, account required)

> Study suggests Earth may have had all necessary ingredients for life since it was formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago, contrary to common theory that key elements came from meteorites (More)

> Certain wasp species can recognize individuals within the same colony, a cognitive adaption that increases social cooperation (More)

From our partners: An investment worth watching. Autonomix, the company pioneering a new frontier in medical treatment, is planning a Nasdaq listing—and they’re inviting you to become a shareholder. They already have 100+ patents (issued and pending) and an estimated $100B market opportunity ahead of them. Consider joining the excitement and invest in Autonomix today.*

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close up (S&P 500 +0.8%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq +1.4%) ahead of today's November jobs report reading (More)

> Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh to retire April 26; board elects company President Michelle Gass to succeed Bergh beginning Jan. 29 (More)

> AMD shares rise 9.9% a day after the chipmaker launched new AI chips to compete against Nvidia (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Hunter Biden indicted for second time; son of President Joe Biden faces three felony counts of tax evasion and falsifying returns and six misdemeanor charges for failing to pay taxes between 2016-19 (More)

> UNLV shooting suspect said to be 67-year-old former college professor who had recently been turned down for a job; shooter reportedly had a list of educators he was targeting (More)

> Donor pulls $100M gift to University of Pennsylvania after President Liz Magill appeared to sidestep questions about extreme anti-Semitic speech on campus during congressional testimony (More) | Judge allows Texas woman to receive abortion for medical reasons despite state's restrictions on the procedure; first such ruling since Roe v. Wade was overturned (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Humanities' Case for AI

Business Insider | Adam Rogers. Ted Underwood is an English professor long interested in the statistical analysis of literature, and he thinks AI is a game-changer in our understanding of texts. (Read)

 

> Restaurant Review Juries

MIT Reader | Zeyi Yang. A deeper look at a Chinese app's innovative jury game (and content moderation strategy) where users decide the fate of real restaurant reviews. (Read)

> Wrinkled Radicals

Sidedoor | Lizzie Peabody. (Podcast) When energetic Maggie Kuhn was forced to retire on her 65th birthday, she began a movement to shed light on the faulty assumptions we have about aging. (Listen)

 

> Third Thumb Prosthetic

One Big Story | Staff. The human hand is already the most versatile tool in the natural world—now see just how much more you could do with an extra thumb. (Watch)

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Etcetera
 

Pearl Harbor survivors reunite to mark the 82nd anniversary.

 

Ranking the top 10 movies of 2023

 

... and exploring the breakout trends for 2024

 

Rare white alligator born at Florida park (w/video).

 

Satellite reveals hidden lagoon in an Alaskan glacier.

 

Meet Hollywood's 100 most powerful women.

 

Mice recognize themselves in the mirror.

 

Rolls-Royce rolls out a mini nuclear reactor for moon living.

 

Clickbait: Mysterious Mega Claus descends on Texas town

 

Historybook: Mary, Queen of Scots born (1542); The US declares war on Japan (1941); Musician Jim Morrison born (1943); John Lennon murdered outside his residence in New York City (1980); Astronaut and senator John Glenn dies (2016).

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