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🚫 West Point Cheating Scandal
The U.S. Military Academy (AKA Army or West Point) accused more than 70 students of cheating on a remote calculus exam – the university’s biggest such scandal in 45 years. Fifty-eight cadets admitted to breaking the academy’s notoriously strict Honor Code by cheating on the exam, and will be enrolled in a program for rehabilitation. Four other cadets resigned, and will not face further punishment.
The remaining cadets accused of cheating will face administrative hearings to decide whether a violation occurred, and could face penalties that include expulsion.
More: One of the largest cheating scandals at a taxpayer-funded university occurred at West Point in 1976, when more than 150 cadets resigned or were expelled for cheating on an electrical engineering exam. Another cheating incident in 1951 – depicted in the ESPN film Code Breakers – led to 37 members of Army’s football team being dismissed.
🌋 Hawaiian Volcano Begins Erupting
Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano began erupting late Sunday night, forcing the state’s Big Island to issue a red alert Monday morning (the eruption is still ongoing). A 4.4-magnitude earthquake was recorded about an hour after the eruption began Sunday evening. By 1 a.m. local time, officials from the U.S. Geological Survey reported lava fountains shooting ~165 feet into the sky (video).
More: Kīlauea, the world’s most active volcano, last erupted in 2018 – a major event that lasted months, destroying more than 700 homes and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.
💉 EU Approves Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine
The European Commission approved Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine Monday afternoon, hours after the EU’s drug agency said the shot was safe and effective against COVID-19. Distribution of the vaccine to the EU’s ~448M inhabitants is expected to begin on Thursday, with the first Europeans receiving the shot on Sunday.
More: President-elect Biden and future First Lady Jill Biden publicly received the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine yesterday. (Video)
🍵 The Tea: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was hospitalized in August after being poisoned by a nerve agent, reportedly tricked a Russian agent into giving details of the attack by impersonating a security officer over the phone. The Russian asset revealed the poison was placed in a pair of Navalny’s underpants. (Full recording – 33 mins)
📉 Welcome to the Club
Tesla shares fell 6.5% yesterday as the company made its debut on the S&P 500 stock market index. The EV-maker entered trading Monday as the sixth-largest company in the index, with its market cap of ~$527B making up 1.69% of the S&P 500’s combined valuation.
🚘🔋Clash of the Titans
Per Reuters, Apple plans to develop and produce a self-driving electric vehicle featuring a breakthrough battery design by 2024, though sources warned pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond. Apple’s automotive program, Project Titan, reportedly features a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range.
More: It remains unclear who would manufacture an Apple-branded car, but the company is expected to rely on a partner to build the vehicles. According to sources, there is still a chance Apple could scale back its operations to an autonomous driving system integrated with a traditional automaker’s model.
🚀 Lockheed Blasts Off
Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the U.S., agreed to acquire rocket engine and missile manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne in an all-cash deal worth $4.4B (including assumed debt). Should the acquisition receive regulatory approval, it is expected to close in the second half of 2021.
More: Analysts say Lockheed’s acquisition is intended to position the company to better compete against Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin in the growing space industry.
🏦 SoftBankfiled to raise $525M through an initial public offering via special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
🍵 The Tea: Former Bloomberg journalist Christie Smythe went on the record for the first time about how, over the course of nine months, she quit her job, moved out, and divorced her husband to pursue a romantic relationship with the incarcerated man she was assigned to cover – disgraced pharmaceutical executive and hedge-fund investor Martin Shkreli. The Journalist and the Pharma Bro.
🎨 A Happy Little Accident
Harumichi Shibasaki, a 73-year-old painter from Chiba, Japan, had taught watercolor classes for over 40 years when he started a YouTube channel in 2016. Through the channel, Harumichi intended to provide professional art instruction to a greater number of aspiring artists.
Harumichi has since garnered more than 700,000 subscribers on YouTube. Sporting an additional 300k followers on TikTok, he is now known as the “Japanese Bob Ross.”
🎓 Graduation Day
In November 2017, Charlie Smith of Powder Springs, GA, was born at just 25-weeks – weighing only one pound. He was given a 50 percent chance of survival.
On November 1st, 2020 – a day before his third birthday – Charlie was deemed “no longer dependent on life-sustaining machines” by his pediatric medical staff, who threw the young boy an adorable graduation ceremony to celebrate the milestone.
🐶 Liddie Come Home
Last month, Kirstin Kapp of Douglas, WY, was distraught to discover her dog, Liddie, had disappeared during a bathroom break while under the care of a friend. In fact, the poor pup had gotten lost almost an hour away from home.
Kirstin searched desperately for Liddie, contacting local animal shelters, newspapers, and Facebook groups to spread the word about her missing dog. Finally – after 21 days – Liddie was returned to her owner in a tearful reunion. (Video)
Hard Water vs. Soft Water, Explained
Water is the most abundant element we have – but also one of the least understood. Especially when it comes to your home.
You always hear about “soft water” and “hard water”… what does it all mean?
Soft water is treated water in which the only ion is sodium (or salt).
Hard water is determined primarily by the amount of calcium, magnesium, and other materials it contains.
In other words, if your washing machine leaves clothes looking a little dingy, your dishes have spots and residue, your hands feel like a film is on them after washing, or your bathtub contains lots of soap scum – you probably have hard water.
But… I thought minerals were good for you?
Hard water can contain things like chlorine, which leads to the calcification of pipes (like a heart attack: the buildup restricts the pathway for water to travel).
It also eats into rubber components, among other things. Over time, this can lead to costly and unexpected repairs.
For example: You know that little rubber flap in the toilet? The one that keeps it from overflowing? It costs a few hundred dollars to fix (plus another couple hundred on your next water bill). And it’s totally preventable.
It’s always cheaper to be pro-active instead of re-active: Get in touch today for a free consultation, and ensure your home is protected for the long run.*
* For now, we can only serve the greater Austin & San Antonio metro areas.
🌐 What a Tangled Web We Weave… ProPublica published leaked documents over the weekend showing how China’s paid army of Internet trolls helped the government manipulate its domestic internet to censor news about the coronavirus.
🎩🐇 Under the Illusion… the Neural Correlate Society published the top 10 finalists for its annual Best Illusion of the Year Contest. The full list of winners.
🛰️ Eye in the Sky… San Francisco-based startup Capella Space recently launched a satellite capable of taking high-resolution images of any place in the world, and can even see inside some lightweight structures.
🕷️ Spider Insider
How old was the longest-living spider in recorded history when she died?
A) 29 years old
B) 54 years old
C) 43 years old
D) 36 years old
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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The longest-lived spider in recorded history was a wild female trapdoor spider named ‘Number 16’ that lived in Western Australia from 1974 until 2016. Researchers believe Number 16 did not die of old age, but rather due to a parasitic wasp sting.