2.23.2024

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Good morning. It's Friday, Feb. 23, and we're covering the first US return to the moon in five decades, a tragic diagnosis for a former talk show host, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Nuclear Space Warning

The US has warned Russia not to deploy nuclear weapons in space, noting it would violate a 1967 treaty that bars weapons of mass destruction in space. It marks the first indication of the Biden administration’s approach to Rep. Mike Turner’s (R, OH-10) warning last week alluding to a “serious national security threat.”

 

Details—including whether such an anti-satellite weapon could be nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed—have not been made public. Any nuclear weapon detonated in space would indiscriminately release a large burst of gamma radiation. That could destroy or damage over 7,000 satellites currently in operation and critical to a range of systems, including GPS, phone and internet usage, financial systems, space surveillance, and missile defense. Russia could deploy the weapon into orbit as soon as this year, according to US sources. 

 

Separately, the mother of deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said yesterday she was shown her son’s body, but Russian authorities are “blackmailing” and pressuring her to have a secret mourning ceremony.

 

Lunar Lander Success

The Odysseus spacecraft successfully reached the lunar surface yesterday, becoming the first-ever private-sector mission to land on the moon while remaining operational. Its arrival also represents the first US-built spacecraft to land on the moon in more than 50 years, following the final Apollo mission in 1972. 

 

Built by Intuitive Machines and launched aboard a SpaceX rocket, Odysseus touched down about 180 miles from the lunar south pole. The region is of interest to scientists due to the presence of ice, along with traces of evidence from the early formation of the solar system. The payload included about $120M in NASA materials meant in part to lay the groundwork for a human visit in 2026 as part of the Artemis program (along with a number of art sculptures). Intuitive Machines' stock has jumped more than 300% since early January. 

 

See footage from the control room during the final stage of the operation here

 

Wendy Williams Diagnosis

Daytime talk show host Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, according to her representatives. Williams, 59, was diagnosed last year and currently resides in an undisclosed care facility.

 

Aphasia is a disorder resulting from deterioration of the region of the brain responsible for language control and communication abilities. Frontotemporal dementia is a progressive brain disorder impacting behavior and cognitive functions. It is the same form of dementia actor Bruce Willis was diagnosed with last year.

 

"The Wendy Williams Show," a one-hour talk show that aired for almost 14 years, averaged more than 1.6 million daily viewers at one point. The six-time Emmy-nominated host took a medical leave during her battle with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid, which led to the show’s cancellation in 2022. Williams has been under court-ordered guardianship since 2022 when she was deemed susceptible to financial exploitation due to her health problems.

 

The news comes ahead of a two-part documentary on Williams set to air this weekend (8 pm ET, Lifetime).

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with NativePath

> Vice Media, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2023, announces it will stop publishing content on its news site Vice.com and plans to cut hundreds of jobs (More) | See our previous write-up (More)

> Yale becomes second Ivy League university to reverse pandemic-era test-optional policy, will require submission of standardized test scores for admission (More) | See our previous write-up (More)

> Tiger Woods' son Charlie, 15, falls short in pre-qualifying event for next week's Cognizant Classic, failing in bid to qualify for his first PGA Tour event (More)

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Science & Technology

> AT&T network experiences hourslong outage across the US, cause remains unclear as of this writing; an estimated 70,000 people affected, less than 1% of the network's estimated 100 million people serviced (More)

> Researchers discover antibody capable of neutralizing venom from a wide variety of snake species across the globe; discovery may lead to universal antidote for snakebites (More)

> New advanced CRISPR tool edits strands of short-lived RNA instead of DNA, allowing gene editing without the risk of causing permanent errors in a cell's genetic code (More) | CRISPR 101 (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +2.1%, Dow +1.2%, Nasdaq +3.0%), S&P 500 hits another high after Nvidia's blockbuster earnings report Wednesday; Nvidia rises 16% (More) | Japan's Nikkei stock index breaks 1989 record, closing at all-time high of over 39,000 (More) | Europe's benchmark Stoxx 600 index closes at all-time high (More)

> Reddit files to list initial public offering on New York Stock Exchange, invites power users to invest; company's market debut is expected in March and will mark the first major tech IPO of the year (More) | Reddit strikes $60M deal allowing Google to train AI models on the online discussion site (More)

> Vaccine-maker Moderna shares rise 15% after company reports better-than-expected quarterly profit despite decline in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Israel agrees to resend negotiators to participate in Qatar-mediated cease-fire talks to pause fighting in the Gaza Strip; meeting comes ahead of a multilateral weekend summit in Paris (More) | Gaza death toll nears 30,000 according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry; see updates on the war here (More)

> State appeals court rules New York law allowing green card-holding noncitizens to vote in local elections unconstitutional (More) | Texas judge finds Houston-area high school dress code, which resulted in a student's suspension over the length of his dreadlocks, did not violate state law; case gained national attention beginning in August (More)

> Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador publicly releases address of local New York Times bureau, following report by the paper US officials had investigated his potential ties with drug cartels (More) | Read report (More)

 

In-Depth

> Why We Mispronounce

Storied | Erika Brozovsky. There's a certain logic behind common mispronunciations, so this sociolinguist broke down a few sample reasons, from familects to hyperforeignisms. (Watch)

 

> The Psychiatrist Who Tried to Quit

WSJ | Katherine Sayre. How a mental health professional—who was once six figures in debt from online gambling losses—got hooked again by the $15B-a-year online gambling industry. (Read)

> Nine-Figure Forgeries

Smithsonian | Jordan Smith. How a trio of art forgery rings in Canada produced over 10,000 fakes at an estimated $100M value in the style of "Picasso of the North" Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau. (Read)

 

> Dream Deadlines

This Is Uncomfortable | Reema Khrais. (Podcast) An aspiring singer says he'll quit music if he doesn't become a pop star by age 25. Is this pragmatic approach the right one? (Listen)

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Etcetera
 

How US adults use TikTok.

 

... and explaining the viral saga, "Who TF Did I Marry?"

 

Artist unveils design for this year's Burning Man temple

 

Rare basking shark spotted off the California coast.

 

... and answering the question: Why are there so many snakes?

 

A radical proposal ... to pay all teachers six figures.

 

The San Diego Zoo jumps back into panda diplomacy.

 

John Cena has joined OnlyFans.

 

Clickbait: The toilet as we know it may be changing.

 

Historybook: Gutenberg Bible is published (1455); President John Quincy Adams dies (1848); Sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois born (1868); Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photo taken (1945); Actress Emily Blunt born (1983).

"Children learn more from what you are than what you teach."

- W.E.B. Du Bois

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