3.30.2023

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Good morning. It's Thursday, March 30, and we're covering the first day of the baseball season, an advance in the fight against opioid overdoses, and much more.

 

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Need To Know
 

US-Taiwanese Relations

China is threatening to retaliate if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) meets next week with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Los Angeles—one of two US cities bookending Tsai's 10-day overseas trip. The tentative meeting was rebuked by Chinese officials yesterday, who view such visits as a provocation and de facto recognition of Taiwan's sovereignty (see background). 

 

Beijing views the self-ruling island as part of China, while Taiwan maintains its independence. The US has long adopted an ambiguous policy, which analysts say may be increasingly untenable as China becomes more assertive in the region.

 

The trip comes days after Honduras cut ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China, leaving Taiwan with only 13 countries that recognize it as a sovereign state. Tsai is set to transit through New York today on her way to Guatemala and Belize before meeting McCarthy and other Republican members of Congress in Los Angeles April 5 on her return to Taiwan. 

 

Opening Day 2023 

The 2023 Major League Baseball season begins today, with all 30 teams playing their first game on Opening Day for the first time since 1968 (see schedule). The sport has undergone several major rule changes analysts expect will have significant impact on the game.

 

The most visible change is the adoption of a pitch clock, where pitchers must throw the ball within a certain timeframe. The clock, combined with a limit on pitcher throws to first base, is expected to shorten games by roughly 20 minutes on average while boosting base-stealing attempts. Bases have been enlarged by three square inches (see photo), reducing the distance between bases by 4.5 inches. Additionally, certain defensive shifts—where infielders take positions based on a batter's hitting tendencies—have been banned, a move expected to benefit hitters. See a full rule breakdown here.

 

Defending champion Houston Astros are the betting favorites to win the World Series, followed closely by the Yankees, Dodgers, and Braves. 

 

Over-the-Counter Naloxone

The Federal Drug Administration approved the drug naloxone for over-the-counter sale yesterday; a move health officials hope will help slow the rise of opioid-related overdose deaths across the US. The drug will be available under the brand name Narcan, a nasal spray-based formulation, by late summer. 

 

Opioid overdoses occur when the brain's opioid receptors are flooded, depressing the central nervous system to the point where breathing slows or ceases (see overview, w/video). Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, blocking the drugs from attaching to the receptors—an effect that allows it to rapidly reverse the effects of an overdose. A study in Massachusetts found more than 90% of overdoses were successfully reversed when the drug was administered by emergency responders.    

 

The previous eight years have seen fatal overdose rates surge, doubling to more than 100,000 since 2015. Visualize the three waves of the opioid crisis here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> New Mexico district attorney overseeing "Rust" criminal case against Alec Baldwin steps down, assigns two lawyers to take over (More) | British comedian and TV host Paul O'Grady dies at 67 (More)

> Warner Music Group lays off 270 staff, roughly 4% of its workforce, in move toward "new tech initiatives" (More) | Disney lays off Marvel Entertainment chairperson amid larger round of layoffs (More)

> James Beard Foundation announces 2023 James Beard Award finalists for the nation's best restaurants and chefs (More)

From our partners: Make 2023 your year for a one-card wallet. This card offers up to 5% cash back at places you likely already shop and 0% APR until 2024 on purchases and balance transfers. All with no annual fee. Possibly making this card the only one you need. Learn more.

 

Science & Technology

> Elon Musk joins other tech leaders in signing open letter calling on AI labs to pause the training of any system more powerful than GPT-4 for at least six months to study potential risk (More) | Goldman Sachs estimates generative AI has the potential to lift world GDP by 7%, disrupt 300 million jobs (More

> Bioengineers develop molecular syringe capable of channeling protein-based drugs into individual human cells; design was built off a similar mechanism used by viruses and bacteria (More)

> First DNA analysis of the Swahili civilization indicates the population descended primarily from African women and Persian men, reflecting the Swahili empire's key role in medieval trading and mercantile networks (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.4%, Dow +1.0%, Nasdaq +1.8%) led by tech stocks (More)

> Starbucks founder and interim CEO Howard Schultz testifies before Senate committee on company’s labor practices (More)

> UBS brings back former CEO to lead merger with fellow Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse (More) | Macy’s CEO announces he will retire in February after four-decade career (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> US Senate votes 66-30 to repeal the 1999 Authorization for Use of Military Force for the Gulf War and the 2002 AUMF for the Iraq War; the bipartisan resolution is an effort to revoke the authority to wage war from the executive branch (More) | Kentucky lawmakers override Gov. Andy Beshear's (D) veto on bill restricting how doctors and schools treat transgender youth (More)

> Pope Francis, 86, hospitalized ahead of Holy Week for a respiratory infection after experiencing difficulty breathing; he is expected to spend a few days in a hospital in Rome (More)

> New York grand jury goes on hiatus, expected to meet in late April over former President Donald Trump's alleged use of campaign funds as a hush money payment in 2016 (More

 

In-Depth

> Dangers of Fentanyl 

The Hill | Rafael Bernal, Rebecca Beitsch. The rise of fentanyl, a deadly opioid drug, is causing tensions to escalate between the US and Mexico, posing challenges for law enforcement on both sides of the border. (Read)

 

> The Deep Time Movement of Snails

MIT Press Reader | Thom van Dooren. What examining millions of years of snail biogeography and evolution can teach us about how these slow-moving, sedentary organisms disperse themselves across vast distances. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

New commemorative quarter honors Hawaiian hula teacher.

 

Why spring cleaning is good for your mental health.

 

Explaining the physics of a bicycle.

 

Rare pink diamond expected to sell for more than $35M.

 

People who love reading choose the best books of all time.

 

Your heartbeat could replace your passport in the future.

 

High schoolers claim they can prove the Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry.

 

Smithsonian’s new exhibit highlights Afrofuturism in pop culture.

 

Clickbait: Amsterdam tells wild Brits to stay away.

 

Historybook: Vincent van Gogh born (1853); Treaty of Paris ends Crimean War (1856); Celine Dion born (1968); President Ronald Reagan survives assassination attempt (1981); American musician Bill Withers dies (2020).

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."

- Vincent van Gogh

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