12.2.2022

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Dec. 2, and we're covering a looming hearing in student loan debt forgiveness, a surprising dinosaur discovery, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

SCOTUS to Decide Loan Forgiveness

The Supreme Court announced yesterday it would hear challenges to the Biden administration's student loan forgiveness plan. The order left in place a lower court's decision to pause the program's implementation while the legal process unfolds, leaving its fate undecided until at least after February when the high court will hear the case. 

 

The initial plan canceled up to $10K in federal student loan debt for borrowers under certain income thresholds ($20K for Pell Grant recipients) while extending a freeze on repayments (see details). Opponents of the proposal argue the government exceeded its authority and circumvented Congress in using the 2003 HEROES Act to justify the program. Analysts suggest the effort may cost $300B, or around 18% of the $1.6T in outstanding student loan debt. 

 

Close to 75% of those with federal student loan debt owe more than $10K, while almost two-thirds of borrowers owe less than $40K (see data).

 

New Dino Species Discovered

Scientists revealed the discovery of the first known nonavian theropod—a two-legged carnivorous dinosaur—in a study published yesterday.

 

Named Natovenator polydontus, meaning “many-toothed swimming hunter,” the dinosaur is believed to have had a streamlined body like current diving birds (such as penguins) and a long neck like modern water birds (such as geese). These characteristics, along with a jaw filled with teeth, hint that it may have swum and dove to capture prey—likely fish or insects.

 

The 2008 discovery in Mongolia's Gobi Desert included the fossilized remains of a nearly complete skeleton. The duck-sized species is believed to have lived in the late Cretaceous period around 71 million years ago, and belongs to the same group of dinosaurs as the Velociraptor. The dinosaur shares traits with another species, Halszkaraptor escuilliei, discovered in 2017 and thought to be aquatic.

 

Twelve-Team Playoff

The College Football Playoff will expand to 12 teams in 2024, tripling its current size two years earlier than previously announced. The change came after officials representing the Rose Bowl—the oldest bowl contest still being played—agreed to the accelerated schedule in exchange for prioritization for a slot on New Year's Day. 

 

During the 2021-22 season, the current four-team playoff format generated $74M apiece for the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, and SEC), with $95M split among the Group of Five conferences (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MW, and SBC). Some projections estimate a twelve-team format could generate total revenue above $2B while increasing competition—only one Group of Five team, Cincinnati in 2021, has ever made the four-team playoff. 

 

The four teams selected for this year's playoff will be announced Sunday, along with all bowl matchups. See the schedule for this weekend's conference championships here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Kettle & Fire

> The US takes on the Netherlands tomorrow (10 am ET, FOX) in the World Cup Round of 16 (More) | Stéphanie Frappart becomes first female referee for a men's World Cup match (More) | See today's schedule (More)

> Gaylord Perry, Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner, dies at 84 (More) | "Green Book" actor Frank Vallelonga Jr. found dead at age 60 (More)

> Kanye West praises Hitler, Nazis during live interview on Alex Jones' "Infowars" talk show (More) | Parler calls off deal for West to buy the conservative social media app (More)

From our partners: Is healthy eating challenging? Well, it doesn't need to be. Kettle & Fire makes it easy with their line of bone broths and bone broth based soups. Simply order online, wait three to five days, heat for two minutes, and enjoy. Done. Simple. Kettle & Fire's products are Whole30 approved, Keto and Paleo friendly, delicious, incredibly convenient and perfect for cold days. They never use anything artificial and source only grass-fed and finished beef bones. The cherry on top? You can save 20% off your entire order right here.

 

Science & Technology

> Stanford University president, neuroscientist, and former biotech executive Marc Tessier-Lavigne under investigation for allegedly fabricating research results in papers published between 1999 and 2008 (More)

> OpenAI releases chatbot capable of fluid conversation with users and questioning incorrect premises; testers still report ability to mislead the software (More) | Test out ChatGPT (More, free account registration required)

> Physicists use quantum computers to simulate instantly passing information through a wormhole, or a theoretical connection between two different regions of space-time (More) | Wormholes 101 (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow -0.6%, Nasdaq +0.1%) ahead of today’s November jobs report (More)

> US personal consumption index used to measure inflation grows slower than expected; US consumer spending also up in October with highest gains since June (More)

> Average gallon of gas in the US falls to $3.47 per gallon, lowest since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Senate passes bill ratifying agreement between labor unions and rail companies, votes down provision increasing number of paid sick days to seven; approval comes ahead of a potential Dec. 9 strike (More)

> Reports suggest Russia is using nonexplosive nuclear-capable warheads in a bid to exhaust Ukrainian air defenses; analysts say move suggests Russia may have depleted conventional missile stockpiles (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

> Survivors of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, file $27B class-action suit against law enforcement, school district, and others (More)

 

In-Depth

> Surfacing Knowledge, Better

Art of Curation | Mia Quagliarello. (Podcast) The internet is awash with clickbait, misinformation, low-quality content, and worse. Can we curate our way to a more knowledgeable world? (Listen)

 

> Beware the Perfect Gentleman

Vice | RF Jurjevics. Online romance scams are a big business, and many operations use fake photos from a handful of unwitting guys with friendly faces. (Read)

> The Most 'American' American

Kite and Key | Staff. A funny reflection on all the things that made Benjamin Franklin the country's quintessential citizen. (Watch)

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Etcetera—Best of the Month
 

Editor's note: More than 8 million monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in November. Enjoy!

 

(11/18/22) Feds crack down on sassy freeway signs.

 

(11/2/22) This year's highest-paid dead celebrities

 

(11/16/22) Crack in Earth's magnetic field triggers rare pink auroras.

 

(11/22/22) American foods banned in other countries

 

(11/21/22) Two hundred passwords you shouldn't use.

 

(11/17/22) Ten thousand mink are on the loose in Ohio.

 

(11/9/22) Spectacular shots of the Blood Moon eclipse.

 

(11/3/22) Your Thanksgiving dinner menu could be in trouble.

 

(11/28/22) The average-sized home in every US state.

 

(11/15/22) Australia approves medical fecal transplants.

 

(11/10/22) Meet Pumuckel, possibly the world’s smallest pony.

 

(11/14/22) Archaeologists find 4,000-foot tunnel in Egypt.

 

(11/8/22) Facial analysis reveals our changing culture.

 

(11/4/22) Clickbait: Famous painting hung upside-down for 77 years.

 

Historybook: Abolitionist John Brown dies (1859); US Environmental Protection Agency formed (1970); Britney Spears born (1981); Benazir Bhutto becomes first female prime minister of Pakistan (1988); Colombia drug lord Pablo Escobar is killed (1993).

"To make peace, one must be an uncompromising leader. To make peace, one must also embody compromise."

- Benazir Bhutto

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