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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Feb. 20, and we're covering Israel's warning to Hamas, the most luminous object in space, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know

Rafah Ground Operation 

Israel is expected to expand its ground operation in Gaza's southern city of Rafah by the start of Ramadan if Hamas does not return the remaining hostages held in the enclave by then, Israel's war minister warned. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, will begin around March 10 this year based on the sighting of a new crescent moon.


The warning is the first indication of a timeline for Israel's looming offensive in Rafah, where roughly 1.5 million Palestinians (about 65% of Gaza's population) are sheltering near Egypt's border. More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. At least 100 hostages abducted from Israel Oct. 7 remain in Hamas' captivity. 


Separately, the UN's International Court of Justice began a week of public hearings yesterday over the legality of Israel's role in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and annexed East Jerusalem. The hearings relate to a 2022 request from the UN General Assembly for a nonbinding advisory opinion into Israel's policies and practices in the territories. 


See more updates on the war here.


Assange Extradition Battle

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will make what could be his final court appearance today in his long-running appeal against extradition to the US, where he is accused of leaking thousands of classified military documents. Assange has been held in London's high-security Belmarsh prison since his arrest in 2019; the British government approved an order to extradite him in 2022.


Assange, 52, faces 17 counts brought under the Espionage Act and one charge of computer misuse. The allegations stem from a 2010 document dump of classified information, exposing abuses and civilian casualties during the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the documents were provided by former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was allegedly assisted by Assange in hacking a military computer. Assange has argued the leak should be protected under the First Amendment because he was acting as a journalist at the time. The US says the release put lives in danger.


The Australian national faces up to 175 years in prison and up to five years for computer misuse. The Australian parliament is calling on the US and the UK to release Assange.


Brightest Object in the Cosmos

Astronomers have identified what is believed to be the most luminous object in the universe, roughly 12 billion light-years away, according to a study released yesterday. The 7-light-year wide quasar, which is also powered by the fastest-growing black hole observed to date, is said to be 500 trillion times brighter than the sun.


Quasars—an abbreviation of "quasi-stellar radio source"—are a type of highly active, extremely bright galaxy core produced by the powerful effects of supermassive black holes (watch 101). Over 1 million have been observed in the universe, with the nearest roughly 600 million light-years away. 


The J0529-4351 quasar, first spotted in 1980, was initially misclassified as a star due to its extreme brightness and was only confirmed to be a quasar last year. The Australian-led team claims the quasar's black hole consumes the equivalent of 370 suns each year and has a mass roughly 18 billion times that of our sun. Zoom in on the quasar here.

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Good Sleep: What Dreams Are Made Of


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Beam Dream Powder is a delicious nighttime hot cocoa full of ingredients designed to make you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It’s a lofty promise, but they’ve done their research: a clinical study revealed Dream helped 93% of users get a more restful night's sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed. Packed with five natural sleep-promoting ingredients (CBD, reishi, magnesium, L-theanine, and melatonin), zero added sugar, and only 15 calories, Beam has what you need to avoid sleepy side effects. Simply sip a half-hour before bed, then drift into your deepest night's sleep.


Even better? Beam just released their newest Brownie Batter Dream flavor. Enjoy a guilt-free dessert and a solid night’s rest. For 24 hours only, 1440 readers get an exclusive offer—up to 40% off with code 1440 + free mystery gift ($35 value) using our exclusive link.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> William Byron edges teammate Alex Bowman to win 2024 Daytona 500; race was postponed due to heavy rains over the weekend (More)

> UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma picks up 1,203rd win to pass former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski for second-most NCAA Division I college basketball coaching wins; Auriemma is now six wins behind Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer (More)

> "Bob Marley: One Love" biopic film hauls in $80M to lead all films at global box office (More) | "Home Improvement" star Zachery Ty Bryan arrested for DUI (More


Science & Technology

In partnership with hear.com

> James Webb Space Telescope finds evidence suggesting Eris and Makemake, a pair of dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt in the outer solar system, are geologically active (More) | What is the Kuiper Belt? (More)

> Historians discover use of the decimal point can be traced to the mid-15th century, roughly 150 years earlier than previously believed; concept found initial use in real-world business transactions (More)

> Large-scale genomic survey reveals an estimated 275 million previously unknown genetic variants; "All of Us" National Institutes for Health initiative aims to build an expansive database for precision medicine (More)

From our partners: Soccer cleats, fast cars, and now superhuman hearing. Yep, German engineering has nailed it again—and this time, it’s the folks at hear.com who are shaking things up. Their new IX hearing aids are the world’s first devices with multi-stream processing, allowing the hard-of-hearing to navigate multiple people, conversations, and background noise. Try your own pair for 45-days no-risk right here.


Business & Markets

> Capital One to acquire Discover Financial Services in $35.3B all-stock deal; Capital One shareholders will own roughly 60% of the combined company when the deal closes, while Discover shareholders will own roughly 40% (More)

> French auto parts giant Forvia to cut up to 10,000 jobs over the next five years amid global shift to electric vehicles; Forvia expects to save roughly $540M annually starting in 2028 (More

> Microsoft-backed OpenAI reportedly completes deal valuing the company at more than $80B (More) | European Union opens formal investigation into TikTok for possibly breaching the bloc's new digital rules concerning safety of minors (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> California braces for another round of heavy rain, flooding, and mountain snow through tomorrow due to an atmospheric river; comes two weeks after a previous storm hit Southern California with record daily rain (More) | Atmospheric rivers 101 (More)

> Haitian judge indicts 51 people in 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, including Moïse's widow, a former prime minister, and a former police chief (More) | A 25-year-old suspect arrested in murder of two people found in dorm at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (More)

> Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) approves new legislative maps after state's Supreme Court in December found previous maps favored Republicans and were unconstitutional (More



> Dr. Death: Bad Magic

Wondery | Laura Beil. (Podcast) The fourth season of the hit podcast explores the story of Serhat Gumrukcu, an amateur magic enthusiast who conned his way to the top of a biotech startup on the hunt for a cure for AIDS. (Listen)


> The Start of ESPN

Air Mail | Bill Keenan. Bill Rasmussen and his son Scott changed the face of sports when they launched the first all-sports cable TV network, ESPN. So, what happened? (Read)

In partnership with Beam

Hit Snooze On Bad Sleep


We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping … or attempting to sleep. But when you’re spending more time counting sheep than you are dreaming, the effects are anything but enjoyable: grogginess, moodiness, an inability to focus.


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Please support our sponsors!


The keeper of the Vatican's secrets is retiring


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A micronation with a real-world purpose: Westarctica.


Abraham Lincoln pardoned President Joe Biden's great-great-grandfather.


Former President Donald Trump's $400 sneaker line sells out.


Meet Cupid, a calf with a heart-shaped mark on its forehead.


Clickbait: Ship carrying 19,000 cattle stinks up Cape Town.


Historybook: Frederick Douglass dies (1895); Sidney Poitier born (1927); John Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth (1962); Kurt Cobain born (1967); Rihanna born (1988); Olivia Rodrigo born (2003). 

"If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I've accomplished something."

- John Glenn

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