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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Oct. 17, and we're covering the crisis unfolding in the Middle East, bankruptcy proceedings for a US pharmacy chain, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Israel-Hamas Conflict Fallout

At least 199 people are being held hostage by Hamas, the Israeli military said yesterday, an increase from previous estimates of the number of people Hamas captured and brought back to the Gaza Strip after a surprise attack more than a week ago. Observers say the group may seek the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of hostages. See latest updates on the conflict here.


Israel also began evacuating 28 communities within 1.2 miles of its northern border shared with Lebanon, where its military has exchanged fire with Iran-backed Hezbollah; the group claims it destroyed surveillance cameras on Israeli army posts along the Lebanon border. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran and Hezbollah to stay out of its conflict with Hamas. (Hezbollah and Israel went to war in 2006.)


As of this writing, the death toll in Gaza has risen to more than 2,800, with at least 10,500 people injured. The death toll in Israel stands near 1,400 (most of which occurred during Hamas' initial attack), with at least 3,900 people injured. At least 22 hostages have died as a result of airstrikes, Hamas has claimed.


Separately, US officials opened a federal hate crimes investigation into a 71-year-old landlord accused of fatally stabbing a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy outside of Chicago. The attack was reportedly motivated by the Israel-Hamas conflict. 


US President Joe Biden is expected to visit Israel tomorrow in a show of support, following US Secretary Antony Blinken's second trip to Israel yesterday since the conflict began. 


Rite Aid Files for Bankruptcy

US pharmacy chain Rite Aid has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announcing plans to close numerous stores as it deals with mounting debt and multiple opioid-related lawsuits. Rite Aid aims to continue operations while restructuring debts.


The Philadelphia-based company, established in 1962, operates over 2,000 stores across 17 states. The company has allegedly secured $3.45B in financing from lenders to maintain store operations; however, the restructuring plan will involve closing multiple underperforming stores. The number and locations of store closures have not been disclosed. Rite Aid will also sell part of its business, including its prescription benefit manager Elixir Solutions to MedImpact. The company has appointed a new CEO, Jeff Stein, founder of financial advisory firm Stein Advisors, to lead the restructuring efforts.


Rite Aid also plans to use the bankruptcy proceedings to resolve legal disputes related to allegations it knowingly filled unlawful opioid prescriptions, including a federal lawsuit filed in March. The company has reached several settlements already, including up to $30M with the state of West Virginia.


Squash, Flag Football Olympic Debut

Olympic officials approved five additional sports to compete at the 2028 Los Angeles Games at its annual session yesterday. The 33-sport program will now feature cricket, lacrosse, baseball and softball, as well as the Olympic debuts of squash and flag football. 


Squash is played in over 150 countries and is inexpensive to field; its inaugural inclusion gives Egypt—which dominates the sport—a window to add to its eight all-time Olympic gold medals. The NFL, the world's most lucrative sports league,

campaigned for flag football's first-ever showing to increase American football's popularity worldwide. Lacrosse, the oldest sport in North America, last played in the Olympics in 1908, and cricket's 1.4 billion fans will see the sport at the Games for the first time since 1900. Baseball and softball participated in 2020 but aren't included in Paris 2024. 


Relatedly, the International Olympic Committee will keep boxing on the program in 2028 after it withdrew recognition of the International Boxing Association for compliance issues in June, a rare move.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Kim Ng, the first female general manager of an MLB franchise, to depart Miami Marlins after three years with the team (More) | Texas Rangers top Houston Astros 5-4 to take 2-0 lead in AL Championship Series (More)

> "Jurassic Park" star Sam Neill, 76, reveals cancer treatment for stage 3 blood cancer will eventually stop working (More)

> Kansas tops preseason AP Top 25 men's college basketball poll with the season set to begin Nov. 6; women's preseason poll is released today (More)


Science & Technology

> Study suggests remnants of the coronavirus in the gut may stifle serotonin production, may be the cause of a number of long COVID-19 symptoms (More)

> New imaging approach using beams of neutrons allows researchers to measure stress in 3D-printed components with atomic-scale resolution (More)

> Researchers develop combined engineered human skin and bioprinted cartilage for ear reconstruction; application may find use for children with certain congenital disorders (More)


Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.1%, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +1.2%) as traders await fresh batch of corporate earnings reports this week (More)

> LinkedIn to lay off 688 employees—3% of its global workforce—across its engineering, product, talent, and finance teams; announcement follows reduction of 716 jobs in May (More)

> Athleisure giant Lululemon shares up more than 10% to the highest level since December 2021 amid plans for the company to join the S&P 500 tomorrow; Lululemon replaces Activision Blizzard, which merged with Microsoft (More)

From our partners: If cash back is king, this card is royalty. Even The Ascent's credit card experts couldn't resist. They applied for it, and it's an absolute slam-dunk if you're looking for a one-card wallet. Big sign-up bonus, up to 5% cash back, no annual fee, and the list goes on.


Politics & World Affairs

> House Republicans poised to hold full House floor vote today over whether to elect Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (OH-4) as the next speaker (More) | GOP faction opposing Jordan says he will likely face a challenger (More)

> Russia returns four Ukrainian children to their families as part of Qatar-brokered deal; Ukraine has claimed Russia has abducted at least 20,000 children (More) | Russia's offensive in eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka appears to be weakening, Ukraine says as war hits 600 days (More) | See war updates (More)

> DOJ settles class-action suit against Trump-era border policy; agreement would limit separation of minors from parents for eight years, once approved by a judge (More) | Judge overseeing federal election interference case against former President Donald Trump imposes limited gag order on inflammatory remarks against court staff, prosecutors, and potential witnesses (More)



> The End of China's Economic Boom

Insider | Linette Lopez. A look at how China has shifted its priorities from economic growth toward national security and advanced technology, and the effect it may have on American-based businesses. (Read)


> 'AI Obama'

NY Times | Stuart A. Thompson, Sapna Maheshwari. How AI-generated video and audio content on TikTok uses sophisticated new AI audio tools that can clone real voices, and TikTok’s efforts to red flag such videos for spreading misinformation. (Read)

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Historybook: Actress Rita Hayworth born (1918); Mae Jemison, first Black woman in space, born (1956); Eminem born (1972); Mother Teresa wins Nobel Peace Prize (1979); Earthquake near San Francisco kills 63 (1989).

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