3.23.2023

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Good morning. It's Thursday, March 23, and we're covering an expected social media grilling on Capitol Hill, a life-saving overhaul to an outdated system, and much more.

 

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Need To Know
 

Fed Stays Course

The Federal Reserve said yesterday it would raise interest rates by a quarter point to a range of 4.75%-5.0%. Officials said the move was necessary to fight inflation, with consumer prices having increased more than 6% on a year-over-year basis every month since October 2021. The historical inflation target is around 2%. 

 

It marks the central bank's ninth rate hike over the past year and is the highest rate since 2007 (see historical rates). The increase comes amid a string of recent bank failures, the most high-profile of which was Silicon Valley Bank. Among other drivers, the institution purchased large amounts of US government bonds that traded at a discount as interest rates rose, leading to a liquidity crunch and, ultimately, a bank run. 

 

The benchmark rate set by the Fed has a significant impact on the cost of borrowing for consumers, affecting everything from purchasing cars and homes to starting new businesses. See how the federal funds rate affects the broader economy here

 

TikTok Testimony

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is testifying for the first time before a House committee today on how the Chinese-owned video platform plans to address US national security concerns. Chew's pledges (see prepared remarks, click "view agenda") include TikTok building a firewall to safeguard US user data from unauthorized foreign access and establishing a new entity to oversee that data. Watch the hearing here (10 am ET).

 

Officials say TikTok, which has over 150 million monthly active American users, could be used by Beijing to collect individual private data, and have warned its owner, ByteDance, to give up its stake in the US operations or face a ban on the app. A similar call to ban TikTok came in 2020 from then-President Donald Trump, ultimately fizzling after he left office. 

 

More than a dozen countries have introduced full, partial, or public sector bans on TikTok. In the US, federal and even some state agencies have been directed to remove the app from government devices. Analysts say a full national ban on TikTok could mean a forced removal from the Google and Apple app stores, barring new users and limiting access to current ones. 

 

Organ Transplant Overhaul

The US Health department announced plans yesterday to modernize the country's four-decade-old congressionally enacted Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. The system is solely responsible for tens of thousands of life-saving organ transplants in the US every year, where over 100,000 people are currently on its waitlist

 

The private nonprofit United Network of Organ Services has managed the network since 1986. UNOS has come under fire for its elevated kidney discard rate of roughly 20%, while a 2021 audit by the US Digital Service called for a broad restructuring of the network's information technology stack, reporting it had crashed for 17 days since 1999. Due to UNOS' effective monopoly over US organ services, critics argue there's insufficient accountability for poor performance.

 

The multiyear modernization effort aims to update technology, increase competition by soliciting bids, double federal funding, and update the nearly 40-year-old law, specifically to abolish appropriations caps. A new data dashboard shows recent trends in procurement here.

In partnership with Upway

E-Biking Made E-asy

 

Whether it’s to get some exercise, spice up your commute, or add a little adventure to your weekend, the reasons to get an electric bike go on and on. But they tend to be … well, pricy.

 

That’s where the #1 certified preowned e-bike retailer Upway comes in. Recently launching in the US, Upway sets the handlebars high on quality. All of their e-bikes go through a rigorous refurbishing and inspection process, ensuring each one is as close to new as possible (some have <5 miles on them). Once certified, Upway extends a one-year warranty for each bike, with the major components also guaranteed. Plus, Upway ships to anywhere in the continental US in less than a week, and they have a free 14-day return policy.

 

It’s never been easier or more affordable to buy an electric bike from top brands like Specialized, Aventon, and Tern. Don’t overpay for a high-quality e-bike! Score up to 60% off retail and use code 1440 for an additional $100 off (purchases of $500+).

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul, and Akon among group of celebrities charged with violating securities laws due to cryptocurrency endorsements (More) | Writers Guild of America proposal would allow artificial intelligence apps to assist in script writing process (More)

> Russia and Belarus banned through 2024 from women's and men's hockey world championships over Russia's invasion of Ukraine (More)

> NCAA men's basketball tournament Sweet 16 begins today; see previews for all eight matchups (More) | ... and latest bracket (More)

From our partners: Now may be a good time to transfer your balance. This leading balance transfer card offers 0% intro APR for 21 months. With no annual fee. Find us a card that offers longer than 21 months. We'll wait. Apply today.

 

Science & Technology

> Annual Turing prize, referred to as the "Nobel Prize of computing," goes to Bob Metcalfe for coinventing the ethernet (More) | Mozilla, parent company of the web browser Firefox, launches open source startup focused on trustworthy AI (More)

> Genetic analysis made from the hair of famed composer Ludwig van Beethoven finds evidence of liver disease and hepatitis b that supports contemporary accounts he died of cirrhosis (More)

> Researchers develop water treatment approach that eliminates 99% of all PFAS molecules—commonly known as forever chemicals—in drinking supplies (More) | What are forever chemicals? (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.7%, Dow -1.6%, Nasdaq -1.6%) as Federal Reserve raises rates 0.25% to curb inflation; Regional Banking ETF falls 6% (More)

> Job listings giant Indeed to lay off 2,200 employees, roughly 15% of workforce (More)

> Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase receives Wells Notice from Securities and Exchange Commission warning it potentially violated securities laws (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> New York grand jury vote postponed to as early as today on indicting former President Donald Trump over allegedly using campaign funds as hush money payments to an adult film star in 2016 (More)

> Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits besieged eastern city of Bakhmut as the southern city of Zaporizhzhia is hit with deadly missile strikes (More) | World Bank estimates Ukraine will need $411B over the next decade for reconstruction (More)

> Uganda parliament passes law expanding restrictions against the LGBTQ community, including criminalizing the act of identifying as LGBTQ (More

 

In-Depth

> Not All Giants Grew Alike

Quanta Magazine | Anna Gibbs. New research suggests theropod dinosaurs, which included some of the largest predators on Earth, didn't achieve their enormous sizes in the same way, offering insights into their biology and behavior. (Read)

 

> Odd Caliber 

Truly*Adventurous | Kenneth R. Rosen. How a hobbyist in debt turned into an international arms dealer, flooding the UK with untraceable antique guns and ammunition, and leaving the police perplexed. (Read)

In partnership with Upway

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Upway has already refurbished and certified more than 10,000 electric bikes since 2021. Every bike sold is restored to near-new condition, includes a one-year warranty, and free two-week returns. Learn about e-bikes and shop top brands, plus save up to 60% and get an extra $100 off with code 1440.

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Etcetera
 

The best and worst cities for seasonal allergies.

 

The top 10 moments from the World Baseball Classic.

 

Artist recreates Monet’s "Water Lilies" with Lego bricks.

 

… and another creates art with items from his fridge.

 

See Utah’s new state flag.

 

Company develops toilet made from wood chips.

 

The unexpected true story behind “Bambi.”

 

Dutch railways halted due to too many tunnels.

 

Clickbait: "Wheel of Fortune" host channels WWE.

 

Historybook: Patrick Henry delivers "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech (1775); Sir Roger Bannister, first person to run a sub-four-minute mile, born (1929); Elizabeth Taylor dies (2011); Suez Canal blocked for six days by container ship Ever Given (2021); US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright dies (2022). 

"There is no deodorant like success."

- Elizabeth Taylor

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