12.23.2022

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Good morning. It's Friday, Dec. 23, and we're covering a holiday deep freeze, a surprising scientific discovery, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Editor's note: The 1440 team will be off until Tuesday enjoying time with friends and family—have a great holiday break!

Need To Know
 

America on Ice

An Arctic cold front fell over much of the US yesterday, triggering dangerously cold temperatures and bringing blizzard conditions to the Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northeast. The “once in a generation” weather system brought rare subfreezing temperatures, with many areas seeing temperatures plunge into the negative double digits within only a few hours—Cheyenne, Wyoming, recorded a drop from 43 degrees to 3 degrees in just 30 minutes.

 

The expansive weather pattern managed to drop multiple inches of snow (see photos), with the storm developing into a bomb cyclone early this morning near the Great Lakes region. Additionally, the low temperatures and high winds—over 50 mph in some areas—crippled many power systems, with over 100,000 people across multiple states without power as of this morning. 

 

The weather caused the cancellation of more than 2,400 flights yesterday within, into, or out of the US. Around 7.2 million Americans were expected to travel by air ahead of the Christmas holiday.  

 

Jan. 6 Report Released

The House Jan. 6 Committee released the full version of its final report last night as the curtain closes on the committee's 18-month investigation. The release comes after the panel voted to refer criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department Monday for his alleged role in the day's events. The referrals are not binding and carry no legal weight, but act as recommendations. See key takeaways here.

 

The 845-page report is divided into eight chapters corresponding to each of the summer's prime-time hearings. It focuses on efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election as well as intelligence and security failures around Jan. 6. Although the report is not binding, special counsel Jack Smith has requested full access to the committee's documents for use in the Justice Department's criminal investigation. See a photo essay of the panel here.

 

Five Republican congressmen—the original GOP nominees to the committee who were later pulled by GOP leadership—released their own report highlighting security failures at the Capitol complex.  

 

Nature's Invisibility Cloak

The mechanism that allows some species of frogs indigenous to Central and South America to become semitransparent has been revealed, according to new research published yesterday. The discovery has implications for our understanding of the circulatory system and the role of blood cells in maintaining vital functions.  

 

A few centimeters in size, glass frogs are active at night and become translucent during the day. While sleeping, only their bones and internal organs are visible, allowing them to effectively blend in with the foliage. Using a radar-like imaging technology utilizing sound waves, scientists discovered the frogs are able to store red blood cells—which scatter light, making the animal opaque—in their livers. 

 

How the animals survive the sequestration of red blood cells is unclear—the adaptation should both deprive the animals of oxygen while running the risk of blood clotting in the liver. See video of translucent glass frogs here

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> NFL and YouTube reach seven-year agreement to broadcast "NFL Sunday Ticket" package on YouTube TV; deal is reportedly worth more than $2B a year (More) | Ronnie Hillman, Super Bowl champ with the Denver Broncos, dies of cancer at 31 (More)

> Jury deliberations begin in trial for rapper Tory Lanez, who faces three felonies for allegedly shooting hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion; Lanez faces 23 years if convicted (More)

> House of Representatives passes Equal Pay for Team USA Act, requiring equal pay for American women competing in international sports competitions (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Twitter to roll out new feature displaying how many users read individual tweets; estimates suggest more than 90% of users consume content but don't post or otherwise engage (More)

> Archaeologists discover sprawling, 2,000-old Mayan community in northern Guatemala; complexes were discovered by air using laser-based imaging, or lidar (More) | How does lidar work? (More)

> Brain stimulation boosts hearing in rats with hearing aids; study may explain why some cochlear implant recipients have hearing improved immediately, while others take years (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower: S&P 500 -1.5%, Dow -1.1%, Nasdaq -2.2% (More)

> FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried released on $250M bond, ordered to detention in home of his parents in Palo Alto, California (More)

> Tesla shares fall 9% as company increases discounts on Model 3 and Model Y vehicles delivered this month (More) | Shares of theater giant AMC fall 7% after announcing $110M capital raise and proposing a reverse stock split (More

From our partners: Can you guess the top five bonus cards? 2023 is almost here, and experts at The Ascent have sorted through hundreds of credit cards. These five are among the best bonus cards they’ve ever seen.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Senate passes $1.7T spending package to fund government operations through fiscal year 2023 on a vote of 68-29; package heads to House and includes $858B for defense spending, up 10% over last year (More)

> US life expectancy fell for the second consecutive year in 2021 from 77 to 76.4 years, according to latest government data; factors include increases in COVID-19 and drug overdose deaths (More) | See data breakdown (More

> Japan adopts plan to extend life span of nuclear reactors, replace old ones, and build new ones; plan is a shift from country's previous stance to phase out nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima plant disaster (More)

 

In-Depth

> Christmas in Kyiv

Guardian | Michael Safi, Isobel Koshiw. (Podcast) As families prepare to celebrate Christmas in Ukraine, the 10-month war rages on. (Listen)

> Cheating with ChatGPT

WSJ | Joanna Stern. A reporter tests if she can use the new deep-learning chatbot to fool an AP Lit teacher. (Watch)

 

> Defining Death

Popular Mechanics | Esther Landhuis. If researchers can revive a pig brain that has been dead for hours, what does that mean for our standard definition of death? (Read, paywall)

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Etcetera
 

NORAD's annual Santa tracker.

 

The year's best long reads

 

Meet the king of gingerbread houses

 

The medieval roots of Christmas markets

 

Old Saint Nick was a little creepier in past centuries

 

Mistletoe, a parasitic plant with a rich history.

 

The funniest Christmas-related local news bloopers. (via YouTube)

 

The beauty of Antarctica captured in photos.

 

Clickbait: Runaway llama drama caught on infrared camera

 

Historybook: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founder Joseph Smith born (1805); Businesswoman Madam CJ Walker born (1867); Vincent van Gogh cuts off his ear (1888); Voyager aircraft is first to fly around the world without refueling (1986).

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