10.14.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Saturday, Oct. 14, and in this weekend edition, we're covering the completion of the largest deal in gaming history, an imminent Israeli ground attack in Gaza, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

You share, we listen. As always, send us feedback at [email protected].

One Big Headline
 

Microsoft-Activision Merger

Microsoft officially closed its $69B acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard yesterday, after nearly 21 months of hurdles from competition regulators in the US, UK, and EU since announcing its bid in January 2022. The purchase is the largest deal in Microsoft's 48-year history and the biggest-ever in the gaming industry. 

 

British regulators yesterday approved a restructured version of Microsoft's deal, which transfers the streaming rights for Activision Blizzard's current and upcoming console and PC games to French video game publisher Ubisoft Entertainment. The UK Competition and Markets Authority had blocked the original deal in April over antirust concerns. Receiving the regulator's approval was the last obstacle before Microsoft could complete the deal. Meanwhile, the US Federal Trade Commission is appealing an earlier federal court decision that denied the agency's request to temporarily block the merger. See a timeline of events in Microsoft's acquisition of Activision here.

 

The merger with Activision enables Microsoft to take over the studios behind popular games like "Call of Duty," "Diablo," and "Warcraft." Analysts say the deal will likely be a boon for Microsoft's Xbox, which ranks behind Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo in sales. 

Quick Hits
 

Civilians in Gaza City evacuate ahead of potential Israeli ground attack. 

Palestinians in northern Gaza began to relocate to the south, after Israel ordered the 24-hour evacuation of roughly 1.1 million civilians Friday, calling on the UN to help. The UN appealed to Israel to rescind the order, stating it would have humanitarian consequences. Hamas reportedly told residents in Gaza to ignore the call. 

 

The death toll in Gaza has risen to at least 1,900 people, including 70 who died from Israeli airstrikes Friday; Hamas claimed at least 13 of those who died Friday were part of the 150 people taken hostage from Israel. At least 7,600 others have been injured in Gaza, health officials said. The death toll in Israel stands near 1,300, with around 3,000 injured, according to latest figures from officials. 

 

Also on Friday, Israel said its troops had conducted temporary raids in Gaza to fight Hamas militants and find hostages, marking the first time Israeli troops entered Gaza (and later turned back) since Hamas' weekend attack. See all updates here.

 

Rep. Jim Jordan (R, OH-4) secures GOP nomination for House speaker. 

Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, defeated Rep. Austin Scott (R, GA-8) by a vote of 124-81 in an internal caucus meeting yesterday. Scott had declared a last-minute bid for the speakership after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R, LA-1) dropped out of the race Thursday (see previous write-up). Jordan will need to win 217 votes from a full House floor vote to secure the gavel. 

 

Kaiser Permanente reaches tentative contract deal with union workers.

The tentative labor agreement comes about a week after roughly 75,000 healthcare workers—excluding doctors—walked off the job for three days. The walkout was the largest healthcare strike in US history. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The union was seeking higher pay and increased hiring, among other items. See our previous write-up here.

 

NASA launches six-year Psyche mission to study metal-rich asteroid. 

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off Friday, a day after bad weather delayed the original takeoff. The spacecraft is expected to reach the orbit of the 16 Psyche asteroid in 2029. The asteroid is believed to be the ancient core of a protoplanet and is composed primarily of iron and nickel. See our previous write-up here.

 

First word deciphered on ancient Roman scroll burned by Vesuvius.

Using AI, a 21-year-old computer science student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln discovered the word "porphyras," ancient Greek for “purple," from a scroll carbonized by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, which destroyed Pompeii and the town of Herculaneum. The findings are part of a cash-prize competition for deciphering the scroll. Luke Farritor won $40K for discovering the first word.

 

Teacher killed, three people injured in France school stabbing.

The knife attack occurred at a high school in northern France. The suspect, a 20-year-old former student of the school, has been arrested and was reportedly on a watch list of people who posed security risks. France's antiterrorism prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into the incident. One of the suspect's brothers was also apprehended. 

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Humankind
 

How one dad transformed an abandoned Italian town into an art therapy project for his son. (More)

 

Woman, who slipped on ice and broke her hip in 2015, recounts how a stranger helped save her life. (More, w/audio) 

 

Two young boys, who became online best friends from playing video games during the pandemic, finally meet each other after three years. (More

 

... and two high school teens in Kansas share rare moment as the only girl kickers playing for opposing football teams. (More)

 

... and two former NICU neighbors, who overcame a rare heart disease, are now college roommates. (More)

From our partners: Tough, timeless, made in the USA. Introducing Huckberry's #1 selling jacket of all time, the Flannel-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket. Constructed with a waxed, weather-resistant Martexin sailcloth, this jacket will only get better with age. And unlike most other Waxed Truckers on the market, Huckberry’s is soft out of the box because it’s fully lined with super-soft flannel. Did we mention Pedro Pascal sported it on HBO's “The Last of Us”? Get it today.

Humankind(ness)
 

Today, we're sharing a story from reader Julie M. in Olympia, Washington

 

"My birthday was on Monday and I received a frantic call from a local school that they had two teachers out sick, and desperately needed me to substitute a class for the rest of the day. As a former middle school teacher I rarely teach Kindergarten, but thought it would be good for me to help out as I didn’t have plans until the evening. The three hours went by quickly."

 

"I noticed one boy during free time using a marker and I kept an eye on him to make sure he was using it on the paper, not drawing on the desk or on himself. When the students lined up at the end of the day he walked over to me and unfolded the paper and said, 'I wrote you a letter!' I was so touched my his kindness. In all capital letters it read: DEAR MRS. M I LOVE YOU SO MUCH LOVE NICK. I had a nice birthday dinner, but Nick’s letter was truly the icing on the cake!"

 

What act(s) of kindness did you experience this week? Tell us here.

Etcetera
 

Bookkeeping

> The average ACT score in the US falls to 19.5 out of 36, the lowest since 1991
> IRS says Americans failed to pay a record $688B in taxes on their 2021 returns.

> US employees spend $51 daily, or $1,020 monthly, when they work full time in the office, new study finds. See all the data here.

 

Browse 

> America's most haunted hotels.

> The most iconic dessert from every decade since the 1900s.

> Artist transforms scrap metal into lively animal sculptures. 

> The oat milk cocktail that supposedly took down an army.

When a swarm of mosquitoes disrupts your flight

 

Listen 

> The everyday economics of tattoo parlors and how the industry is changing.


Watch 

> How marijuana changes your sleep

> Why do sitcoms tell us when to laugh

> Experts predict the future of technology, AI, and humanity

 

Long Read 

> The Soviet spacecraft cemetery in the Pacific Ocean.

> What causes earthquakes and why are some places more prone to them

 

Most Read of the Week: How often you should wash your jeans.

 

Historybook: President Dwight D. Eisenhower born (1890); Chuck Yeager becomes first person to fly faster than speed of sound (1947); Cuban Missile Crisis begins (1962); Martin Luther King Jr. wins Nobel Peace Prize (1964); American photographer Dody Weston Thompson dies (2012).

"We must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

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