9.25.2023

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Good morning. It's Monday, Sept. 25, and we're covering the looming potential of a government shutdown, a mass exodus from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Spending Showdown

House Republicans will begin debate this week on four separate funding bills ahead of a looming Sept. 30 deadline to avert a federal government shutdown. The bills, only a part of the 12 annual appropriations bills, cover the Defense, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and State Departments. 

 

Negotiations to date have almost entirely been held within the House GOP conference. With a slim 221-212 seat advantage in the chamber—and needing a simple majority to pass a bill—at least seven conservative lawmakers have told Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) they will oppose any short-term stopgap funding measure. 

 

The bloc has instead pushed for consideration of each individual spending bill, a promise McCarthy made during his run for speaker, along with deeper spending cuts and other provisions. Any bills would require approval from the Democratic-controlled Senate.

 

See a history of shutdowns over the past five decades here.

 

Armenian Evacuation

Roughly 120,000 ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a contested enclave in southwestern Azerbaijan, are likely to evacuate and move to Armenia. The announcement follows Azerbaijan's decisive, daylong takeover of the roughly 2,000 square mile mountainous territory last week.

 

The tensions stem from territorial divisions since at least 1923 when the nascent Soviet Union established Christian Nagorno-Karabakh as an oblast within the mostly Muslim Azerbaijan Soviet Republic. In 1991, Armenian separatists declared independence and increased their territory amid the Soviet Union's collapse, but the region—called the Republic of Artsakh by Armenians—failed to gain international recognition. Short but deadly flare-ups in 2016 and 2020 strengthened Azerbaijan's position, while Armenia's major ally, Russia, has had limited resources to contribute to the region's defense amid its foray into Ukraine.

 

Long-blockaded humanitarian aid has begun to arrive in the region. Azerbaijan announced it would guarantee protection for ethnic Armenians in the enclave, but Armenians have expressed concerns over ethnic cleansing. 

 

Pig Heart Transplant (Part II)

Surgeons successfully transplanted a modified pig heart into a human patient Friday, the second time in history the groundbreaking procedure has been performed. The recipient, 58-year-old Lawrence Faucette, was said to be awake and recovering, with the organ fully functioning absent any supportive devices. 

 

Known as xenotransplantation, the approach relies on pigs genetically engineered to not possess a specific sugar molecule, whose presence leads to organ rejection by the human body (see history). Doctors successfully carried out the first such procedure last January. The patient died two months after the surgery—not due to organ rejection but because of a number of factors, including the presence of a latent animal virus in the heart. The news follows the successful transplants of pig kidneys into brain-dead patients

 

Researchers hope such surgeries will eventually provide a source of viable organs for those awaiting transplants. More than 6,000 patients die each year while waiting for donors.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Usher tapped to headline 2024 Super Bowl halftime show in Las Vegas Feb. 11 (More) | Miami Dolphins beat Denver Broncos 70-20, scoring the most single game points by an NFL team since 1966 (More) | Taylor Swift spotted in luxury box at Kansas City game (More)

> WNBA playoffs semifinals kicks off; see full preview and schedule (More) | Europe draws against Team USA to retain Solheim Cup, golf's top women's international team competition, for third straight time (More)

Ethiopia's Tigist Assefa breaks women's marathon world record by more than two minutes at Berlin Marathon; Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge wins record fifth Berlin men's title (More)

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Science & Technology

> NASA's Osiris-Rex mission successfully returns samples taken from the asteroid Bennu, dropping the payload in the Utah desert (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Researchers link unique brain signals with recovery from severe depression in patients treated with deep brain stimulation; findings may lead to new therapies for the condition (More)

> Archaeologists find traces of syphilis-causing bacteria in a skeleton buried in seventh-century France; findings challenge theory the disease returned with Christopher Columbus after traveling to the Americas (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower Friday (S&P 500 -0.2%, Dow -0.3%, Nasdaq -0.1%); S&P 500 and Nasdaq see worst weekly performance since March (More)

> President Joe Biden to travel to Michigan tomorrow to picket with United Auto Workers union; historians believe it would be the first time a sitting US president has visited a picket line during a strike (More) | Former President Donald Trump to visit Detroit Wednesday (More)

> McDonald’s to increase new restaurant franchise fees from 4% to 5% next year, first increase in nearly three decades; approximately 95% of roughly 13,400 restaurants are franchisee-run (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> US officials say intelligence from "Five Eyes" nations—the US, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada—helped link India to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil (More) | Explaining the fallout between Canada and India (More)

> France recalls ambassador, military from Niger as junta closes airspace to French aircraft; President Mohamed Bazoum remains jailed since July 26 coup (More) | Clash at monastery complex between armed Serbian group and Kosovo police ends with four dead Sunday (More

> Tropical Storm Ophelia downgraded to depression Sunday as system brings heavy rains, coastal flooding along the mid-Atlantic; tens of thousands without power (More)

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Etcetera
 

Half of US adults support prenuptial agreements

 

Ranking the best pumpkin beers

 

Wisconsin records its first flamingo sighting

 

Deep sea cam captures rare "Dumbo" octopus.

 

Airport worker steals—and then swallows—cash from passenger.

 

Live groundhog found wedged in car's wheel well

 

Somber photos of wandering icebergs.

 

Mexico's "aliens" are now claimed to have been pregnant.

 

Clickbait: Race winner gives very powerful kiss

 

Historybook: US Congress passes the Bill of Rights (1789); "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve born (1952); The Little Rock Nine integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas (1957); Will Smith born (1968); Catherine Zeta-Jones born (1969).

"At first, dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable."

- Christopher Reeve

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