2.6.2024

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Feb. 6, and we're covering historic rainfall in the Golden State, a royal health update, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

California Deluge

A second atmospheric river in four days has brought record rains to southern California since it pushed inland late Sunday and Monday, knocking out power to over a million households and killing at least three people from downed trees. Some areas of the state saw more rain in one day than is seen in an average year (see map).

 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency for eight counties between Santa Barbara and San Diego yesterday as flash floods and mudslides blocked roads (see photos). Many areas in the greater Los Angeles area received 4 to 6 inches yesterday—with some areas seeing over 10—and mandatory evacuations were called in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties for part of the day. The storm also disrupted ski resorts across the Sierra Nevada after dropping several feet of snow, where more precipitation is expected through midweek. 

 

Winter atmospheric rivers historically bring close to half of the West Coast's annual precipitation (see explainer). Track the storm's forecast here.

 

King Charles Cancer Diagnosis

King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer, according to a statement from Buckingham Palace yesterday. The palace has not specified the type or the stage of cancer but noted the 75-year-old king had begun regular treatments. The cancer was detected during his recent treatment for a benign enlarged prostate; however, the palace confirmed it was not prostate cancer.

 

The king will postpone public engagements during his treatment but plans to continue his constitutional role as head of state, including signing laws and other government business. If the king could not carry out official duties, counsellors of state could be appointed to stand in for the monarch, including Queen Camilla, Prince William, Princess Anne, and Prince Edward (although Prince Harry and Prince Andrew are technically counsellors of state, both have stepped back from their royal duties, so they would not qualify). 

 

It was announced William—who had also temporarily postponed public engagements while he helped his wife Catherine, the Princess of Wales, recover from abdominal surgery—would return to public duties this week.

 

Standardized Testing

Dartmouth College announced yesterday it will begin requiring next year's class of prospective students to submit standardized test scores for admission, the first Ivy League school to reverse a pandemic-era policy making tests optional.

 

Dartmouth dropped its requirement for applicants to submit their ACT or SAT scores in June 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted national testing. Nearly four years later, a study commissioned by the New Hampshire-based school's president found standardized test scores were valuable in identifying high school students considered to be high achievers and likely to thrive at Dartmouth.

 

Among the learnings, the study found some students with strong test scores in their local areas opted to not submit their scores when the results fell below Dartmouth's average range. But because their scores were still higher compared to students in their respective communities, submitting the results would have been a positive nod to their candidacy, the study said. See findings here.

 

More than 1,900 schools (see here) currently have a test-optional policy, including all of the other Ivy Leagues.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> The 66th Grammy Awards hauls in 16.9 million viewers, a 34% increase from 2023 (More) | Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" hits No. 1 on iTunes Top Songs chart after Grammys performance (More)

> The United Football League, which merged the XFL and USFL, will kick off its inaugural season March 30 (More) | Police say new evidence emerged to reopen investigation that led to five current and former NHL players being charged with sexual assault last week (More)

> New Jersey's MetLife Stadium tapped to host 2026 men's FIFA World Cup final; Team USA will kick off its group stage from Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with EnergyX

> Researchers submit plans to build the world's largest particle accelerator; the 56-mile loop would straddle the French-Swiss border, reach energies almost eight times greater than the Large Hadron Collider (More)

> Machine-learning algorithm deciphers multiple passages from charred manuscript buried by the first-century eruption of Mount Vesuvius (More) | First word was identified in October as part of a student-led competition; see previous write-up (More)

> Analysis of 300-year-old sponges suggests world has already warmed by 1.7 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times, much greater than current assessments; controversial claim implies widely used temperature baselines are incorrect (More)

From our partners: The next gold rush? The demand for lithium is projected to grow 20X by 2040, creating a massive opportunity for investors. Elon Musk described it as “like minting money.” Enter EnergyX. Their tech can extract 300% more lithium, earning them investments from GM and POSCO. Now you can invest in EnergyX before their $8/share price changes in just three days. Become an EnergyX shareholder here.*

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.3%, Dow -0.7%, Nasdaq -0.2%), S&P 500 retreats from record high; US 10-year Treasury yield rises to 4.2% in biggest two-day climb since June 2022 (More

> Novo Nordisk parent to buy drug contract manufacturer Catalent for $16.5B, including debt, to expand supply of weight-loss drug Wegovy (More) | Search engine Yandex to sell Russian operations for $5.2B, marking the largest corporate exit from Russia since the country's invasion of Ukraine (More)

> Snapchat parent Snap to cut 10% of workforce, or roughly 540 employees (More) | Samsung chairman Jay Lee acquitted of alleged financial crimes in 2015 merger case (More)  

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Death toll rises to at least 122 from weekend wildfires in Chile's central region of Valparaíso, with at least 370 people still missing (More) | See satellite imagery (More) | See photos (More

> US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, seeks to advance potential hostage deal between Israel and Hamas (More) | Iran-backed militia group claims responsibility for drone strike in eastern Syria that killed at least six US-allied Kurdish fighters (More) | See war updates (More)

> Jury deliberations begin in trial of the mother of convicted Michigan high school shooter in what is the first time a parent of a US school shooter faces charges directly in connection with an attack (More

 

In-Depth

> Shielding the Sun

NYT | Cara Buckley. A group of astronomers and physicists are proposing to send a giant sunshade, roughly the size of Argentina, into space to block a portion of solar radiation. (Read)

 

> Friday Night Lights

ESPN | Dave Wilson. How a Texas high school student with Down syndrome documented his town's journey to the state football championship, inspiring both the team and the community. (Read)

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And The Top 4 Bonus Cards Are (Cue Drumroll...)

 

2024 is here, and experts at The Ascent have sorted through hundreds of credit cards. These four are among the best bonus cards they’ve ever seen. And of course, the card mentioned above made the list.

 

In fact, multiple experts on The Ascent's credit cards team use it (and love it), and they analyze hundreds of cards every year ... so they're good people to askCheck out their top 4 bonus cards for 2024 here.

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Etcetera
 

Why do animals and people need to breathe?  

 

Posing sea lion tops nature photography contest.

 

Cosmonaut sets world record for time spent in space.

 

Visit 20 of the world's best beaches

 

Six ways to improve your mobility

 

Analysis finds dementia was rare in ancient Greece.

 

How "made in China" eyelashes are actually from North Korea.

 

Couple destroys $20K shoe collection to walk barefoot.

 

Clickbait: China is in the market for robotic James Bonds.

 

Historybook: Babe Ruth born (1895); Former President Ronald Reagan born (1911); Bob Marley born (1945); King George VI dies, Elizabeth II becomes Queen (1952); Singer Rick Astley born (1966); Tennis legend and activist Arthur Ashe dies (1993).

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