💸 The Inflation Reduction Act passed in the U.S. Senate late last night. The House is scheduled to vote on the legislation Friday.
⚖️ Alex Jones must pay $49.3 million in damages to the parents of a child killed in the Sandy Hook massacre for his claim that the deadly shooting was a hoax. This is significantly less than the parents were seeking, but there are more cases coming.
🥵 Public spaces in Spain are now banned from setting their A/C below 80 degrees fahrenheit to combat rising energy costs. That applies to offices, restaurants, public transportation, and more. The decree also requires heating this winter to max out at 66 degrees fahrenheit.
🗳️ Indiana became the first state to pass a near-total abortion ban after the Dobbs decision. On the other side, the first state to vote on abortion rights was Kansas, which did not go for an abortion amendment that would have made abortion bans possible there.
*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 5:00am ET.
Imagine if your travel plans gave one of the biggest powers in the world an excuse to show exactly how powerful it could be? That is what U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan seems to have done.
U.S. policy on Taiwan has been questionable lately, with the country’s official position of ambiguity becoming something that looks more like official support. Pelosi has not been ambiguous about her support for the island in the past, but this is the first time that support has gone corporeal.
Ever since Pelosi visited Taiwan last Wednesday, China has been breathing fire with warplanes and ships off the coast of Taiwan, using live-fire military drills to show how it could blockade the island. China also pulled out of climate talks with the U.S. and sanctioned Pelosi and her immediate family, among other responses.
The Biden administration had reportedly tried to convince Pelosi not to take this trip for weeks because of precisely this. But once the word was out that Pelosi was considering it, either decision was going to send impactful messages to both China and Taiwan. If she hadn’t gone, would China have found another excuse to show its might? Would the country think it could intimidate the U.S. into backing down, leaving Taiwan to defend itself? But now that she did go, where will China’s fire end?
Next up on the White House’s please-don’t-do-this list: the U.S. Congress has legislation to name Taiwan a "major non-NATO ally." The administration is reportedly begging them not to move forward with that one.
Let's talk about those depression meds you've been taking
A new umbrella review of studies on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), one of the main medications used for depression, found “no clear evidence” that there is a link between low serotonin levels and depression.
Much of the conservative media in the U.S. took this as confirmation of their negative views of medication for mental illness. SSRIs don’t work!, they shouted. Big pharma is lying to you! STOP TAKING THE MEDS THAT ARE SAVING YOUR LIVES!!!
While one of the people who think life-saving meds for mental illness should disappear seems to be the lead author, the review does not make this claim. In fact, it doesn’t make any new claims. The fact that low serotonin is not the cause of depression is not news to people who actually study this stuff.
The chemical imbalance/low serotonin theory of depression caught on and stuck around because it is an easy explanation and, yes, big pharma likes to spread easy explanations. But the information has always been out there. Maybe this will encourage more studies for other medications to help those with depression survive, but nothing has actually changed here.
The fact that we don’t know exactly why SSRIs work doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be prescribed. Scientists don’t fully understand many of the drugs we take. The general public doesn’t understand even more.
The fact is, SSRIs work for many, many people, and the medication remains just as safe as it was before this review. Maybe we don’t know how or why SSRIs work, but they work.
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Zombie pigs are making researchers ask, “What is death?”
In a recent study, researchers were able to restore function to vital organs in pigs that had been dead for an hour. This follows a 2019 study that did a similar thing to hour-dead pig brains.
To be clear, the pigs didn’t walk around like nothing had happened, and the organs weren’t operating typically either. But the pigs’ hearts contracted, and the livers and kidneys woke up a bit, too.
This could eventually mean big things for preserving organs for donation, but it could also mean more. Like, if hearts and brains can be revived, then when is someone actually dead?
Oh, science. The more we know, the more questions there are. Can we just skip to the part where everyone can live forever? Or is that a horror movie waiting to happen?
A Cross Between Shark Week and Sopranos
a leaked slide showing the differences between the two networks credit: twitter
HBO Max and Discovery Plus will combine into one streaming service next summer. A lot of people are not happy about this.
The drama began last week with the news that the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery was shelving the $90 million Batgirl, a movie set to stream exclusively on HBO Max. The film had been fully shot and featured Leslie Grace and Michael Keaton RETURNING AS BATMAN.
Then there was news that the streaming service was quietly removing other streaming-only films and not renewing TV shows because it was shifting its brand.
It all came to a head last Thursday, at the first earnings report from the merged company. This is where Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed the rumors that HBO Max and Discovery Plus were combining into one blob of a streaming service.
This earnings call is also where certain slides from the financial presentation went public. While hard financials never look great when referring to art or entertainment, one of the slides defined the differences between the two streaming services with HBO Max as the “male skew” service and Discovery Plus “female skew.”
So that’s why Batgirl had to go maybe? No one knows. But one thing seems clear: changes are coming.
News By The Numbers
55%. That is how likely the polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight projects Democrats are to win the U.S. Senate in the midterms. That’s up from 40% in June.
70,000. That is how many signatures a petition to change New Zealand’s name has collected from the people in the country. The proposal to change the colonized ‘New Zealand’ to the indigenous Maori name, Aotearoa, is now being considered by a parliamentary committee.
Anne Heche is trending because the U.S. actress was in a car crash Friday. She is in stable condition.
Kevin Spacey is trending because a judge ruled the U.S. actor must pay $31 million to the producers of his Netflix series House of Cards. Spacey was fired over sexual misconduct allegations, which caused season 6 of the series to be delayed and reduced.
Abolish the IRS is trending. Senator Ted Cruz tweeted that the U.S. should do that.
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