3.14.2024

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Good morning. It's Thursday, March 14, and we're covering momentum around the movement to ban TikTok, a whale of a discovery regarding menopause, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

TikTok Ban Heads to Senate

The US House of Representatives voted 352-65 yesterday to ban TikTok in the US unless its Chinese-based parent company, Bytedance, divests the popular social video network's US operations within six months. The bill's prospects in the Senate are unclear, though President Joe Biden has said he would sign the bill should it pass.

 

The legislation is rooted in long-standing concerns from US officials that China could access the personal data of American users of the app—like browsing history, location, or biometrics. Fueling this worry is China's 2017 National Intelligence Law, which requires Chinese businesses to cooperate with national intelligence efforts. A ban would significantly disrupt TikTok's 170 million US monthly active users and 5 million businesses, likely pushing them and advertisers to competitors Meta, Google, and Snap.

 

A federal judge blocked a Montana state ban on TikTok in November over concerns it infringed on First Amendment speech rights. The ban proposal comes on the heels of TikTok's worst quarter for annual user growth in company history. 

 

The Key to a Long (Whale) Life

Menopause may play a key role in significantly extending the life span of certain species of whales, according to new research published yesterday. The work also sheds light on the evolutionary origins of the biological process, a question that has vexed scientists for years.

 

Most mammals remain fertile throughout their life span, allowing them to maximize their number of offspring. Only humans, chimpanzees, and five species of whales are known to experience menopause—the physiological process marking the end of a mammal's ability to reproduce (watch 101). The study revealed female whales that experience menopause outlive similar-sized, nonmenopausal whale species by as much as 40 years, sometimes reaching into their 80s.    

 

Observations suggest the process allows post-reproductive females to protect and care for younger and midlife relatives without producing new offspring to compete for resources. Researchers speculated the phenomenon confers evolutionary advantages in species living within complex social structures—behaviors exhibited by both chimps and humans.  

 

Nigeria Kidnappings

Nigerian kidnappers have demanded over $600K for the release of over 280 students taken hostage last week. At least 500 people have been kidnapped over the past two weeks in a crisis that has become increasingly common since the 2014 kidnapping by Boko Haram.

 

Last week, armed men stormed a school in Kuriga, a town in northern Nigeria, kidnapping over 280 students aged 8-15 (read one student's story). The attack was followed by the kidnapping of 15 schoolboys in northwestern Sokoto, and after more than 200 people were kidnapped in northeastern Borno.

 

The kidnappings may not be related; Islamist militant groups are active in the northeast, while rogue gangs have adopted hostage-for-ransom tactics across the north. It’s a criminal enterprise believed to yield upward of $5M to militants and gangs in recent years as Nigeria's military fails to cement control. An estimated 4,000 people were reportedly kidnapped last year.

 

Next month will mark 10 years since Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in northeastern Chibok, sparking the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Today, almost 100 remain unaccounted for. Read an overview.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Actress Olivia Munn reveals she underwent double mastectomy following breast cancer diagnosis (More) | Michael Culver, actor known for role in "Star Wars," dies at 85 (More)

> Film director Roman Polanski's civil trial over sexual assault allegations set for August 2025; Polanski is accused of sexual battery against a minor in 1973 (More)

> NFL free agency period officially begins; see tracker of all signings and transactions (More) | Dallas Seavey wins a record sixth Iditarod sled dog race (More)

From our partners: 2024 is The Year of the One-Card Wallet. If you’ve been dreaming of a “one-card wallet,” it’s time to wake up and get your hands on this credit card. Not only does it offer 0% APR well into 2025, but cardholders can also earn up to an industry-crushing 5% cash back, with no annual fee to boot.

 

Science & Technology

> Japan's Space One rocket launch fails shortly after takeoff; mission aimed to be the country's first private-sector-led effort to put a satellite into orbit (More, w/video)

> New 3D printing technique allows mass production of microscale components for medicine, manufacturing, and other applications; high-throughput technique can fabricate up to 1 million components per day (More)

> Scientists sequence genome from malaria-causing parasite found in the remains of an ancient Roman skeleton; results expected to shed light on the disease's evolution in Europe (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.2%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq -0.5%) as shares of Nvidia and tech giants fall (More)

> Dollar Tree to shutter 600 Family Dollar stores this year, and 370 Family Dollar stores and 30 Dollar Tree stores in coming years, after posting fourth quarter loss (More) | Adidas reports first annual loss since 1992, warns North American sales will fall by roughly 5% this year due to lower demand and overstocked stores (More)

> Athletic wear giant Under Armour to bring back founder and former CEO Kevin Plank; current CEO Stephanie Linnartz to step down April 1 after holding the role for over a year (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Georgia judge dismisses six of 41 counts in 2020 election interference case against former President Donald Trump and five codefendants; dismissed charges include soliciting state officials to violate their oaths of office (More) | Hunter Biden declines House Oversight Committee request to publicly testify as part of impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden (More

> Three men face firearm trafficking charges in connection with last month's mass shooting during Chiefs' Super Bowl parade in Kansas City that left one person dead, 22 others wounded (More

> Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russian forces will be deployed along border with Finland in response to the nation joining NATO last April (More) | Ally of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny reportedly attacked outside home (More

 

In-Depth

> Deathbed Visions

NYT Magazine | Phoebe Zerwick. One hospice physician reflects on the visions his patients may experience days or weeks before they die—and the relief it may bring. (Read)

 

> Kate Middleton and Shared Reality

Atlantic | Charlie Warzel. The Princess of Wales' Mother's Day photo points to an emerging challenge: proving authenticity in an era of Photoshop and AI. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

The wacky origins of Pi Day.

 

... and mapping the most popular pie in every state

 

Why memory is more about your future than your past

 

A sneak peek at the world’s largest museum in Egypt.

 

The history of Bigfoot, Mothman, and other popular cryptids (w/video).

 

Airline announces new seating option guaranteeing an empty middle seat

 

Savannah to celebrate 200th anniversary of its famed St. Patrick's Day parade.

 

Faking foxes care for an orphaned kit.

 

Clickbait: Even birthdays are powerless against Chuck Norris.

 

Historybook: Eli Whitney patents cotton gin (1794); Albert Einstein born (1879); Stephen Curry born (1988); Seven-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles born (1997); Stephen Hawking dies (2018). 

"If you're having fun, that's when the best memories are built."

- Simone Biles

Why 1440? The printing press was invented around the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history. More facts: In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. We’re here to make each one count.

 

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