2.14.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Feb. 14, and we're covering a shooting at Michigan State University, a contentious proposal to overhaul Israel's judiciary, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Breaking news: At least three people were killed and five were injured in a shooting at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, last night. The gunman was found off campus and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This is a developing story. Read more here.

Israel Protests

Nearly 100,000 Israelis protested outside the country's parliament yesterday ahead of several legislative votes that would overhaul the country's judicial system. The bills would give politicians greater control over appointing judges and overturning Supreme Court decisions by a simple majority vote. See protest footage here.

 

The proposal has divided the country, with critics arguing it gives Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nearly unchecked power and weakens the court. Critics also argue the reforms may help Netanyahu avoid a conviction in his corruption trial. The bills' proponents argue the changes are needed to restore balance in a court with too much power. Israel does not have a formal constitution like many western countries; however, the court's decisions are based on precedent and a series of basic laws (see 101). 

 

The government is likely to take up consideration of the bills in the coming days, with the first of three readings in the Knesset. 

 

Unidentified Floating Objects (Cont.) 

The White House is forming an interagency group to look into the recent series of unidentified objects floating above North America's airspace, including three downed over the weekend in Canada, Michigan, and Alaska. US officials still do not know the origins of the three objects. A White House representative said there was no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity. 

 

Separately, China claimed the US flew spy balloons into its airspace more than 10 times since the start of 2022, which the White House has denied. China's remarks came after the US accused it of aerial surveillance through a spy balloon spotted Jan. 28 and downed off South Carolina's coast Feb. 4. See an overview of the aerial objects discovered here.

 

The spate of objects is shedding light on a 2019 project in which one of China's top aeronautic scientists sent an airship more than 60,000 feet into the air and around the globe, telling state-run media of its potential for spotting warning signs of natural disasters and airborne surveillance.

 

New Zealand Cyclone

New Zealand declared its third state of emergency ever yesterday as Cyclone Gabrielle swept through its North Island. The nation’s strongest storm since the 1990s knocked out power for tens of thousands of people, disrupted transportation, and delayed a speech from the country’s new prime minister. Wind speeds approached 100 mph, with reports of 8 inches or more of rain in some areas just weeks after Auckland recorded its wettest month in 170 years

 

The Pacific island country’s typically mild climate has received rare levels of rain this southern summer, a period normally marked by drought. An unusually protracted La Nina—a cyclical shift in Pacific Ocean temperatures—has fueled more rain by sustaining warmer temperatures in area seas. Few tropical cyclones of this strength reach New Zealand intact, which is roughly the distance from the equator as North Carolina. Generally, only one cyclone will affect New Zealand each year (read overview).

 

See an image of the storm from space here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Levenger

> Ted Lerner, billionaire real estate developer and owner of the Washington Nationals, dies at 97 of pneumonia (More) | De La Soul cofounder David Jolicoeur, known by stage name Trugoy the Dove, dies at 54 (More)

> Czech soccer player Jakub Jankto becomes first active international men’s player to publicly come out as gay (More) | About 113 million people tuned in to Super Bowl LVII, the third most-watched program in US television history (More)

> Mattel to relaunch Barney with reimagined animated series and line of merchandise and toys in 2024, 14 years after the original TV series ended (More)

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Science & Technology

> Geneticist He Jiankui makes first public scientific appearance since being jailed for secretly carrying out CRISPR experiments on human embryos; refuses questions about controversial work (More)

> New report finds a number of data brokers—companies that sell aggregated data typically pulled from sources including mobile apps and websites—offering personally identifiable mental health information for purchase (More) | Data brokers 101 (More)

> Ingestible sensor allows doctors to track and pinpoint issues in the gastrointestinal tract without invasive procedures (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.1%, Dow +1.1%, Nasdaq +1.5%) ahead of today’s January inflation report (More)

> Ford to partner with Chinese supplier to build a new electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan; plant will cost approximately $3.5B and is projected to employ 2,500 people starting in 2026 (More)

> Data analytics software giant Palantir shares up double digits in after-hours trading after posting first profitable quarter (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> The US issues top-level advisory telling American citizens to leave Russia immediately and cease travel to the country (More) | Moldova's president outlines Russia's alleged plot to topple the Moldovan government (More) | See updates on Russia's invasion of Ukraine (More)

> Atlanta judge orders partial release of grand jury's investigation into alleged 2020 election interference in Fulton County, Georgia; partial report to be made public Feb. 16 (More) | Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton fired after report finds he misused a government vehicle and impersonated law enforcement (More

> At least one person was killed and eight injured in Brooklyn, New York, after being struck by a man driving a U-Haul truck; the driver is in custody and police say there was no evidence of terrorism (More

 

In-Depth

> Joe Montana Was Here

ESPN | Wright Thompson. Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana on his athletic success, the highs and lows of the sport, and the difficulties of leaving the game behind. (Read)

 

> Awash in Grief

Reuters | Ally Levine. An estimated 9.9 million people have lost a loved one to COVID-19 in the US. See a graphic exploring what it means to mourn in an era of unprecedented societal change. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

The gruesome origins of Valentine's Day.

 

Where did the concept of soulmates come from

 

The history of valentine cards.

 

... and browse more romantic cards from the past.

 

We're expected to spend over $25B in the name of love.

 

Meteoroid lights up sky above the English Channel.

 

The truth about talking trees.

 

Play with an emulation of a Mac from 1995 (best on desktop). 

 

Clickbait: Asking the brain to determine trademark infringement

 

Historybook: Saint Valentine dies (269); Abolitionist Frederick Douglass born (1817-1818); Pale Blue Dot photo taken by Voyager 1 (1990); Dolly the sheep dies; was first cloned mammal (2003); Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting; 17 killed and 17 injured (2018).

"A bell is no bell 'til you ring it, a song is no song 'til you sing it. And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love 'til you give it away."

- Oscar Hammerstein II from "Sound of Music"

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