12.22.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Dec. 22, and we're covering a shooting rampage at a European university, a West Coast deluge, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Mass Shooting in Prague

At least 14 people were killed and dozens more injured, several of them critically, in a shooting at Charles University's faculty of arts building in Prague’s city center yesterday, marking the Czech Republic's deadliest mass shooting.

 

The unidentified shooter, said to be a 24-year-old student, targeted the fourth floor of the university building before he died during the shooting. The police had been searching for the suspect, whose father was found deceased earlier the same day, and said he was inspired by a similar incident abroad, citing a probe into his social media.

 

The police chief said the shooter legally owned several weapons. The Czech Republic is the only country in Europe that grants the constitutional right to bear arms—about 1 in 30 citizens holds a gun permit—while mandating written and practical tests and psychological screenings. Mass shootings are uncommon in the country, with the last one in 2019 when a man killed six people, including himself, at a hospital.

 

The university, founded in 1348, is one of the world’s oldest and sits near major tourist sites, including the 14th-century Charles Bridge.

 

Harvard Backs Gay

Harvard University President Claudine Gay will submit a trio of revisions to her 1997 graduate dissertation, according to reports yesterday, following allegations of plagiarism that have surfaced in recent weeks. The updates came the same day a university-sponsored independent review accused Gay of using duplicative language and insufficient attribution while concluding the instances fell short of serious misconduct.  

 

Gay came under public scrutiny after providing congressional testimony widely criticized for being evasive about instances of extreme antisemitism on campus—an appearance which ultimately led to the firing of Gay's cowitness, Liz Magill, from the University of Pennsylvania. The university board backed Gay both following the remarks and after rumors of plagiarism surfaced in the hearing's wake. Claims of alleged copying range from vaguely similar phrasing to nearly verbatim sentences (some examples here).  

 

The House Education and Workforce Committee said this week it will launch a probe into Harvard's handling of the claims. 

 

California Storms

Parts of Southern California received major rainfall yesterday as a reportedly once-every-thousand-year storm system hovered over the region and headed toward Arizona, prompting flood watches for millions. Rescuers have aided dozens of stranded residents in several counties around Los Angeles and Santa Barbara while the town of Oxnard recorded over 3 inches of rain in one hour. No deaths have been reported as of this writing.

 

The latest deluge adds to an already saturated California after last winter's nine atmospheric rivers—as well as August's rare Hurricane Hilary—pushed the state's overall water reservoir storage to nearly 130% of its historical average, snapping a decade of drought (see drought monitor). Roughly three-quarters of California's annual precipitation typically falls between December and February, but forecasters predict even higher levels this year amid the return of warmer, wetter El Niño conditions

 

See photos of the floods here.  

In partnership with EnergyX

Lithium: The Next Gold Rush

 

Just like the invention of cars kicked off oil booms, the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) is launching a lithium boom. Lithium is so essential to EVs that the demand for lithium is projected to grow 20x by 2040. There’s just one problem: Producing lithium is slow, costly, and wasteful. 

 

EnergyX has the solution, and it’s creating a massive opportunity for investors. EnergyX’s patented technology can extract 300% more lithium than traditional methods. That’s why General Motors is turning to EnergyX to secure lithium for their EVs. GM was even the lead investor in EnergyX’s $50M round.

 

Now our readers can invest in EnergyX right alongside GM. Click here to learn more about becoming an EnergyX shareholder and capitalizing on the lithium boom.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani edges Novak Djokovic and Lionel Messi to win AP Male Athlete of the Year for the second time in three years (More)

> The 96th Academy Awards shortlists announced for 10 categories with "Barbie" and "Killers of the Flower Moon" leading for most shortlist mentions (More) | Actor Vin Diesel accused in lawsuit of 2010 sexual battery by former assistant (More)

> European court rules soccer governing bodies FIFA and UEFA can't ban formation of a European-wide Super League, which could replace the Champions League with a new, 64-team competition (More)

From our partners: Spend hours researching every little thing? We're guilty, too. But these experts have sorted through countless credit cards so you don't have to. And boy did they find one. It offers a big sign-up bonus, 0% intro APR until 2025, up to 5% cash back, no annual fee, and the list goes on. Learn more.

 

Science & Technology

> AI platform demonstrates ability to autonomously plan and execute a chemistry experiment after taking input prompts from researchers (More)

> Researchers develop modified plant toxin for use in neurological and antiparasite drugs; chemical is derived from seeds used by fishermen in Southeast Asia to paralyze and catch fish (More)

> First fossilized megalodon tooth found in the deep sea recovered by scientists; 3.5-million-year-old specimen recovered by submersible nearly 2 miles below the surface (More) | Meet the megalodon, the biggest shark in history (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.0, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +1.3%); S&P 500 rebounds from worst day since September (More) | Nike shares fall over 10% in after-hours trading, plans to cut costs by roughly $2B over the next three years amid softer outlook for second half of fiscal year (More)

> Southern African nation of Angola to leave the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries after 16 years of membership following dispute over 2024 oil production quotas (More) | What is OPEC? (More)

> Honda Motor recalls more than 2.5 million Acura and Honda vehicles in the US due to fuel pump failure that could cause engine issues (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Cease-fire talks stall in Israel-Hamas war; Hamas says it will no longer agree to temporary pauses to conduct prisoner swaps and allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

> US and Chinese military officials speak directly for the first time in 16 months, potentially signaling a thaw in relations (More) | Follows meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping; see previous write-up (More)

> Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani files for bankruptcy following $148M judgment in defamation lawsuit brought by Georgia poll workers (More)

 

In-Depth

> Your Brain on DMT

Science Vs. | Joel Werner. (Podcast) Dimethyltryptamine, the active ingredient in the traditional psychedelic ayahuasca plant, is known to induce a quick yet transformative 15-minute "businessman's trip." (Listen)

 

> Buried in Translation

Examination | Jason McLure, Stanley Leung. The effects of a worldwide tobacco agreement two decades ago have been limited in China. New analysis reveals the Chinese translation was altered subtly to protect the country's industry. (Watch)

> After the Sun

Quanta | Jonathan O'Callaghan. Can Earth survive the inevitable expansive decay of the sun in 5 billion years? Evidence from a nearby exoplanet suggests there's a chance. (Read)

 

> What Farm Animals Think

Science | David Grimm. New research into the long-neglected minds of livestock has revealed surprising complexity in the familiar beasts of burden. (Read)

In partnership with EnergyX

The 'White Gold' Rush Is Here

 

Demand for lithium—the essential component in EV batteries—is projected to soar 20x by 2040. Perfect timing for EnergyX. Their technology extracts up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods. 

 

That’s why General Motors led a $50m funding round in EnergyX earlier this year. Now you can join them by investing and becoming an EnergyX shareholder.*

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Etcetera
 

Eighty-four sentences that shaped the past year.

 

The most majestic landscape photos of the year.

 

Visualizing Mariah Carey's Christmas dominance

 

After six decades, Hot Wheels is still cruisin' along

 

Charting the decline of real Christmas trees.

 

The misery index recovers from the pandemic.

 

Visiting Central Park's secret holiday pet memorial. (via Instagram)

 

The endless possibilities of see-through wood.

 

Clickbait: Maury Povich settles orangutan paternity case.

 

Historybook: Beethoven’s "Fifth Symphony" premieres (1808); Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson born (1912); Maurice and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees born (1949); Colo becomes first gorilla born in captivity (1956); “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy repealed (2010).

"The bounty of nature is also one of the deep needs of man."

- Lady Bird Johnson

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