Happy Monday. Have you ever exceeded even your own wildest expectations? Hopefully, your experience was something like 17-year-old Wolf Cukier, who landed a two-month internship with NASA and discovered a planet 6.9 times larger than Earth during his third day of work.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.”
– Helen Keller
This Week at a Glance
Monday: LSU & Clemson face off in the CFB national championship, Oscar nominees announced
Tuesday: Democratic presidential debate
Wednesday: US & China sign ‘phase one’ trade deal
Thursday: Religious Freedom Day
Friday: Former Rep. Chris Collins receives sentence in insider-trading case
Expected this week: House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate
It’s 2020: Are Things Really That Bad?
The start of 2020 has seen mammoth bushfires in Australia, heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, and a series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico including the worst in over a century. In the face of seemingly constant bad news, it can be hard to recognize all the good things occurring in the world – but that’s what we’re here for.
According to a 2014 research paper published in Justice Quarterly, the number of homicides per 100 people worldwide has decreased by 46 percent since 1990.
A 2018 University of Maryland study found that new global tree growth had offset tree loss by approximately 2.24 million square kilometers (an area nearly the size of Alaska and Texas combined) over the previous 35 years.
According to data gathered by the U.N., the world youth mortality rate – the share of children who die before the age of 15 – has decreased from 10.7 percent in 1990 to just 4.6 percent in 2017.
What do people think? A 2017 Pew Research survey of nearly 43,000 people across 38 countries found that 43 percent of the world thought that life in their country was better than it was 50 years ago, compared to 38 percent who say it has gotten worse. A 2017 Best Countries survey of more than 21,000 people across 36 countries found that about 60 percent of people thought the world had become worse over the past year.
Iran on Saturday acknowledged that it shot down Ukranian Flight 752 by accident, killing all 176 people aboard.
Despite a heavy police presence, anti-government demonstrations broke out in Iran Sunday night.
Also on Sunday, four people were wounded in a rocket strike on a northern Iraqi airbase that houses U.S. personnel – there were no reports of any Americans among the casualties.
Winter Storms Hit U.S.
At least 11 people have died as severe winter storms continue to sweep across parts of the southern U.S., causing widespread power outages and flight cancellations. Several tornado warnings were also in effect over the weekend, with Alabama forecasted as the state most at risk.
On Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 struck the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. There were no reported injuries from the quake, which is the most recent in hundreds of earthquakes that have struck the U.S. territory since Dec. 28.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its December Jobs Report on Friday, detailing how the economy created 145,000 new jobs in the last month of 2019 (down from 266,000 in November). Included in the report were statistics showing that women held a majority (50.4 percent) of the 152.3 million non-farm payroll jobs in December, just the second time that has happened in recorded history.
General Motors has announced plans to revive the Hummer brand with a surprise twist – according to the WSJ ($), the name will be attached to an all-electric pickup expected to go on sale by early 2022. The vehicle will reportedly be unveiled in a commercial starring NBA superstar LeBron James at next month’s Super Bowl.
Over the holiday online shopping season, Amazon warned some users that the browser extension Honey – which finds and applies online discounts – could be a “security issue” and both recommended and provided a link to uninstall the extension. Amazon has a discount browser extension that competes with Honey, which was bought last month for $4 billion by PayPal (whom Amazon does not accept as a payment option).
What is Dead May Never Die
Eva Gordon always made wise decisions about spending, but the greatest investment she made was after her death in 2018. Eva became wealthy not through inheritance or the lottery, but by investing wisely and making smart financial decisions. When she passed away ten years at the ripe old age of 105, she left careful instructions on how to dole out her money – all $10 million.
At Eva’s request, her money was bequeathed to community colleges across her home state of Washington, amounting to nearly half of the state’s colleges being awarded $550,000. The funds will be used by the schools to award scholarships to deserving students, a gift that Eva would no doubt be proud to bestow.
Even though they were 5,000 miles apart, 17-year-old Aidan Jackson was recently saved from a dire situation by a good friend. Aidan is a gamer from England who loves to play with people from all over the world – on the day in question, he was lucky enough to be gaming with a quick-thinking friend, Dia Lathora, who was playing with Aidan from her home in Texas when he suffered a seizure alone in his bedroom.
Noticing something was amiss, Dia asked Aidan if he was ok. After getting no response, she tried the emergency number for the EU… no luck. She then noticed the option to talk to a real person on the non-emergency line – “I can’t tell you how quickly I pressed that button,” Dia later told the Liverpool Echo. Thanks to her quick action, Dia was able to alert first responders before Aidan’s parents downstairs even realized there was a problem! Thanks to modern technology and Dia’s rapid response, Aidan is alive and well, showing that distance means nothing between two close friends – especially in times of great need.
Weekend Warriors… the NFL playoffs continued with the divisional round this weekend – check out a recap of all four games here. Next weekend, the NFC conference championship game will feature the 49ers and the Packers, and the AFC championship game pits the Titans against the Chiefs.
Science, B*tch… watch as BBC’s Brian Cox visits the world’s biggest vacuum chamber in Ohio and demonstrates dropping a bowling ball and some feathers simultaneously (video).
Rated J… Jeopardy: Greatest of All Time is averaging nearly 15 million viewers in same-day ratings, higher than the 2019 NBA Finals and the MLB World Series.
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A smartphone with 16 gigabytes of memory has about ______ times the memory of NASA’s Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft.