Good morning. The next time your GPS changes your route to sidestep a traffic jam, you just might be avoiding an imaginary obstacle. A German artist recently loaded 99 smartphones running the Google maps app into a handcart to wheel around Berlin, manufacturing a virtual traffic jam (turning all the green streets to red).
“To be the best, you must be able to handle the worst.”
And the ‘stat’ of the union is…
Since 2020 is an election year, let’s take a data-driven look at what voters considered the most important issues facing the country.
According to a Dec. 2019 Gallup poll, Americans considered the economy, education, and healthcare to be the most important issues in the 2020 election. All data is courtesy of USAFacts, a non-partisan, not for profit organization with the goal of making government data more accessible and understandable.
The unemployment rate is 3.5%, a 50-year low.
Median wages have increased by 1% since 2004 (adjusted for inflation).
Two-thirds of 8th graders are not proficient in reading and math, including nearly four out of five black and Hispanic students.
College tuition averaged $23,835 per year in 2016, nearly double what it cost in 1993 (adjusting for inflation).
Two out of three high school graduates go on to attend college, and those who attain a bachelor’s degree earn 64% more than those with a high school diploma.
Personal healthcare spending has more than doubled since 1997, reaching $3.1 trillion in 2018 (more than $9,400 per capita).
Spending breakdown: hospitals (39%), physicians (24%), and prescription drugs (11%).
U.S. life expectancy reached 78.7 years in 2018, up from 76.8 years in 2000 and 73.7 years in 1980.
Questions about the rating system we use? Learn more
Share Today’s Dose of Discussion
Iowa Caucus Results
The Democratic Iowa caucus took place last night, with immediate results delayed after “inconsistencies” were found by the state’s Democratic Party. For a complete recap of the final results, check out the links below.
On Monday, Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie fired his second-in-command, Deputy Secretary James Byrne, less than five months after his appointment. In September, the chairman of the House Veteran Affairs Committee demanded a nationwide review of the VA’s sexual harassment policies after an incident involving one of his staffers.
In a news conference Monday, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan said eight Turkish personnel were killed as a result of Syrian artillery shelling. Erdogan also announced retaliatory missile attacks against Syria, which reportedly killed 13 Syrian soldiers (according to an independent monitoring agency).
Google’s parent company Alphabet released its Q4 earnings report, beating analysts’ expectations in earnings but falling short on revenue, causing shares to fall 4% in after-hours trading. For the first time ever, Alphabet disclosed revenue numbers from YouTube ads ($15 billion in 2019) and Google’s cloud business ($8.92 billion in fiscal 2019).
Michael Sanchez, the brother of Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, sued the Amazon CEO for defamation, alleging his representatives spread false rumors that Mr. Sanchez provided graphic photos of Bezos to the press. A lawyer for Ms. Sanchez provided a statement accusing her brother of secretly providing her “most personal information” to the National Enquirer.
Context: Bezos’ extramarital affair with Ms. Sanchez came to light in Jan. 2019, when the National Enquirer published a story with photos of the two together in public.
More lawsuit news: the FTC is suing to block Edgewell’s $1.37 billion acquisition of shaving start-up Harry’s, citing competition concerns
Tesla shares rose nearly 20% on Monday, adding $23 billion to the company’s market cap. The share price increase comes after Panasonic announced that its battery-making partnership with Tesla was profitable over the last quarter.
Looking to cash in on Tesla’s recent success? CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter on Sunday to recruit for Tesla’s AI department.
Alex Cooper and Alex Schulze are promising young entrepreneurs changing the world for the better. The two men founded 4Ocean, a company that pulls plastic waste from the ocean and converts it into wearable, fashionable jewelry. Since 2017, 4Ocean has extracted nearly 8 million pounds of trash from the ocean and converted it into uniquely designed bracelets, sold at $20 apiece.
4Ocean has helped clean up the bodies of water near Bali, Haiti, and Florida. Now it has its sights set on Central America, where water pollution is rampant due to poor infrastructure and toxic runoff from major cities. The team in Haiti took a whopping 65,000 pounds of trash from the ocean last week, and aims to remove a million pounds from Rio Motagua and the Central American Atlantic in the next year alone. Schulze and Cooper are showing the world that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and that repurposing waste is a beautiful way to save the world.
Monica Mathis was crushed when her beloved bull terrier Hazel went missing in 2017. After weeks of searching to no avail, Monica and her family gave up hope of ever finding Hazel. Months passed, and a new job took Monica and her kids from Iowa to Minnesota. However, just last week, Monica made a miraculous discovery on social media: Hazel’s face plastered on the side of a beer can.
As we covered previously, the custom beer labels featuring Hazel and several other adorable dogs up for adoption are designed by Motorworks Brewery, as part of a fundraising campaign for a local Florida animal shelter. And apparently, it worked – Monica promptly contacted the shelter where Hazel was being cared for to arrange to pick her up. The shelter ended up covering Hazel’s transportation up north, ensuring a happy reunion between two loved ones.
Need for Speed… watch a 60-second timelapse that shows how the Chinese government constructed an entire working hospital in just 10 days.
Mr. Robot… Montreal-based construction company Pomerleau is renting two robots – named “Spot” – from Boston Dynamics to patrol construction sites and take up to 500 photos a day to accurately gauge the work site’s progress.
PhenoMeenal… Google has released a new neural-network-powered chatbot called Meena – trained on 341 gigabytes of public-social media chatter, the tech giant claims it’s the best AI chatbot in the world.
Jet Lag… the Pentagon’s latest assessment of Lockheed Martin’s $428 billion F-35 program found the fighter jet has “unacceptable” accuracy in hitting ground targets – just one of more than 800 software flaws.
The average pencil holds enough graphite to draw a line about _____ miles long.