11.21.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Nov. 21, and we're covering the aftermath of a tech titan's ousting, sentencing in Italy's largest mafia trial in 30 years, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Turmoil at OpenAI

Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has been hired to lead Microsoft's new advanced in-house AI research unit alongside former OpenAI President Greg Brockman. The move follows a tumultuous weekend, which saw investors unsuccessfully try to reinstate Altman after his abrupt dismissal by OpenAI's board of directors Friday. More than 700 of roughly 770 OpenAI employees have demanded the resignation of the board, threatening to join Altman at Microsoft.

 

The board cited Altman's alleged lack of transparency as grounds for dismissal. OpenAI, initially a nonprofit, established its for-profit arm in 2019—governed by the nonprofit's board to maintain its focus on technological development for humanity. As a result, the company is majority independent, meaning the board mostly comprises directors, including Sam Altman, who don't hold direct equity in the company (see governance structure). Microsoft relies on OpenAI's technology for many of its products and remains OpenAI's largest investor with a 49% stake.

 

Former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear is now interim CEO of OpenAI. Mira Murati, who had been named interim CEO Friday, will reportedly stay as OpenAI's chief technology officer.

 

Mass 'Ndrangheta Convictions

Over 200 people associated with Italy's 'Ndrangheta organized crime network were convicted of various mafia-related crimes yesterday and sentenced to a combined 2,100 years in prison. Defendants included town mayors, lawyers, and Giancarlo Pittelli—a former lawmaker in Italy's Parliament. 

 

The 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate is based out of Italy's southern, mountainous Calabria region—the tip of the country's so-called boot—with roughly 20,000 associates in at least 50 countries, including the US, Canada, and Australia (see history). While less known than its Sicilian counterparts famously depicted in "The Godfather" films, the network is now the most powerful in Europe. 'Ndrangheta—a word whose etymology is disputed, but could mean "virtuous ones"—controls up to 80% of Europe's cocaine trade with annual revenue estimated at $60B.

 

Prosecutors claim the effort won't dismantle the network but is aimed at deterring outsider compliance within the group. Read more about the influence of 'Ndrangheta on Calabria here.

 

UN Climate Report 

A United Nations report released yesterday warns Earth is on track to surpass a critical global warming threshold within the next decade. Global average temperatures are predicted to warm by nearly 3 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels of roughly 13.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius increase targeted in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. See an explainer on the benchmark here.

 

The annual report finds global greenhouse gas emissions (see 101) need to fall by 42% to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030; otherwise, Earth's average temperature is expected to rise between 2.5 degrees Celsius and 2.9 degrees Celsius. China and the US are the top two emitters of greenhouse gases. 

 

The findings come amid record-setting global temperatures, with preliminary data suggesting Earth's global average surface temperature last week briefly passed 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The report also comes ahead of an annual UN climate change summit next week, known as COP28, when diplomats from nearly 200 countries will gather in Dubai. 

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with CARIUMA

> Shakira pays $8.2M fine to settle Spanish tax fraud case; Shakira had been accused of failing to pay taxes from 2012 to 2014 (More)

> Musicians Morgan Wallen (11) and Taylor Swift (10) lead all artists for most awards at 2023 Billboard Music Awards (More) | Taylor Swift and Drake now tied for most Billboard Music Awards with 39 apiece (More)

> Tiger Woods' TGL tech-infused golf league, which was set to begin Jan. 9, postponed until 2025 after the league's Florida arena inflated dome collapses (More)

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Science & Technology

> First-of-its-kind study reveals new cause behind brain hemorrhages that do not involve injured blood vessels, as previously believed; research finds interactions between aged red blood cells and brain capillaries can lead to cerebral microbleeds (More)

> Archaeologists uncover previously unknown network of more than 100 ancient sites in the south Carpathian Basin in Central Europe; discovery could explain how prehistoric constructions before the Bronze Age came into being (More)

> European serotine bat species appear to be the first mammals to engage in nonpenetrative mating (More

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.7%, Dow +0.6%, Nasdaq +1.1%) to kick off the holiday-shortened week (More) | Microsoft shares close up 2%, reaching new 52-week high (More) | Chipmaker Nvidia shares close up 2.3% at an all-time high ahead of today's third quarter results (More)

> Airbnb taps former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain as company's chief legal officer (More) | Cruise cofounder and CEO Kyle Vogt resigns from the GM-owned autonomous vehicle venture amid safety concerns, recalls (More)

> United Auto Workers union says 64% of workers have voted to ratify new labor contracts from Detroit Big Three automakers (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> At least 12 Palestinians killed, including patients, after shell hits hospital in northern Gaza Monday amid Hamas-Israeli fighting; cease-fire talks continue (More) | US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visits Kyiv, announces $100M in weapons support to Ukraine (More)

> Federal appeals court upholds 2022 ruling barring private groups from filing lawsuits under the Voting Rights Act, argues only US attorney general can sue (More) | Supreme Court denies appeal to review conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, jailed for the 2020 murder of George Floyd (More

> Federal judges consider possible narrowing of gag order scope in place against former President Donald Trump amid ongoing election interference case (More) | Nonpartisan Committee on Presidential Debates announces next year's debate schedule (More)

 

In-Depth

> Deep-Sea Treasure Hunter

Bloomberg | Kit Chellel, Olivia Solon, Jonathan Browning. A 43-year-old hedge fund executive uses robots to search for deep-sea treasure on the ocean floor—believed to have more artifacts than all the world's museums combined. (Read)

 

> "The Jackal" of Books

The Guardian | Alex Blasdel. How Andrew Wylie, a literary agent whose agency's list of clients exceeds 1,300 writers, helped to define the global literary canon. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Why some people get red wine headaches.

 

Watch the pardoning of Thanksgiving turkeys, Liberty and Bell.  

 

Mattel honors first female Cherokee chief with own Barbie doll.

 

Visualizing jobs with higher income and fewer hours.

 

The price tag of happiness, according to Americans.

 

Which generation do you talk like at work

 

Eric Clapton's 1960s "The Fool" guitar sells for $1.27M

 

Rapper Rick Ross seeks a flight attendant for his private jet

 

Clickbait: World's most dangerous bird emerges in Australia.

 

Historybook: French philosopher Voltaire born (1694); Thomas Edison announces phonograph invention (1877); Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk born (1965); Baseball great Ken Griffey Jr. born (1969); Robert Mugabe resigns as president of Zimbabwe after 37 years in office (2017).

"Common sense is not so common."

- Voltaire

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