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The Morning Rundown™

Netanyahu speaks with Senate Republicans days after Schumer’s speech

Mar 21


Days after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called him an obstacle to peace, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Senate Republicans. And Neuralink posts a video of a patient playing chess using his thoughts. These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Thursday, March 21, 2024.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to GOP lawmakers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu engaged in a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans on Wednesday, March 20, just days after Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer publicly criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza and suggested Israel should hold new elections once the conflict subsides.

Netanyahu’s discussion with the GOP lawmakers occurred during their weekly policy lunch and was conducted virtually. The meeting comes in the wake of Schumer’s remarks on the Senate floor last week, where he labeled Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans relayed to reporters that Netanyahu provided a detailed presentation and fielded questions regarding the ongoing war and the situation concerning hostages. McConnell emphasized his stance to Netanyahu, asserting that the United States should not dictate the timing of elections for a democratic ally nor the strategies of its military campaigns. He noted a concern over what he perceives as waning bipartisan support for Israel in the U.S., particularly from the political left.

Senate Republicans reported that Netanyahu assured them Schumer’s comments would not deter Israel’s objectives to defeat Hamas and proceed with its military actions.

In a move highlighting the partisan tension surrounding the discussions, Schumer declined an invitation from Netanyahu to speak with Senate Democrats at their luncheon, advocating for these conversations to remain non-partisan.

Amidst these political dynamics, House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed intentions to potentially invite Netanyahu to address Congress. This comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming travel plans to Israel this Friday, March 22, marking his sixth visit to the Middle East since the Gaza conflict began.

Bus company sued by NYC agrees to stop transporting migrants

Roadrunner Charters has agreed to halt the transport of migrants from Texas to New York, following a lawsuit filed by Mayor Eric Adams against the company and 16 others. The legal action alleges that these companies violated New York’s Social Services Law by transporting asylum seekers to the region without providing necessary support.

The city seeks approximately $708 million in damages, claiming the companies acted irresponsibly by bringing more than 33,600 migrants to New York since the spring of 2022 without ensuring their ongoing care. This action was deemed to be in “bad faith.”

As the lawsuit progresses, Roadrunner Charters will cease its operations of moving migrants to New York and its surrounding areas. Mayor Adams has voiced his criticism of Texas for what he perceives as politicizing the migration issue and commended Roadrunner’s decision to stop these transports. He also called on the other companies involved in the lawsuit to take similar action.

Court documents reveal that Texas has directed nearly 95,000 migrants to sanctuary cities, including New York, thereby straining the city’s shelter system.

Neuralink posts video of first patient moving cursor

Elon Musk’s Neuralink made headlines Wednesday, March 20, with a live video on X demonstrating its brain implant technology. The video featured 29-year-old Nolan Arbaugh, who has been paralyzed from the shoulders down for eight years following a diving accident, using the device to move a mouse cursor solely through neural signals.

During the live stream, viewers witnessed Arbaugh controlling the cursor to play chess, an activity he described as being powered “all by brain power.” He likened the experience to “using the Force,” a nod to the “Star Wars” series.

Arbaugh also mentioned that the implant has enabled him to play video games, showcasing the device’s potential to restore a level of independence to individuals with severe mobility impairments.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greenlit Neuralink for a clinical trial of its device in humans last May, marking a significant step forward for the company. While experts in the field note that the brain-computer interface (BCI) technology demonstrated by Neuralink is not entirely new—similar systems have been developed by other companies—the excitement surrounding Neuralink’s progress stems from its potential to significantly improve the lives of people who have become paralyzed.

Dodgers fire interpreter of Shohei Ohtani, accused of stealing millions

In the aftermath of a bomb threat targeting Los Angeles Dodgers’ star Shohei Ohtani before MLB’s opening regular season game in Seoul, South Korea, the focus has shifted dramatically due to allegations against Ohtani’s interpreter. The interpreter, a longtime friend and colleague of the star player, was accused by Ohtani’s legal team of a “massive theft,” reportedly to cover gambling debts.

The controversy erupted hours after the Dodgers celebrated a 5-2 victory over the San Diego Padres in Seoul, with the interpreter translating for Ohtani post-game. Allegations involve the misappropriation of millions of dollars from Ohtani, with the funds allegedly used to place bets with a bookmaker in Southern California, currently under federal scrutiny.

In response to the accusations, the interpreter, told ESPN that Ohtani had no involvement in the betting activities. Despite this assertion, the Dodgers have confirmed the interpreter’s termination, stating, “We are aware of media reports and are gathering information.”

This incident comes in the wake of a security scare involving a bomb threat aimed at Ohtani before the Dodgers’ game in Seoul, further complicating what has been a tumultuous period for the team and its celebrated player.

Reddit going public in first major social media offering since 2019

Reddit, the 19-year-old company famous for its vast network of online forums, is making headlines as it goes public today, marking Wall Street’s first significant social media offering since Pinterest in 2019.

On Wednesday, Reddit announced its initial public offering (IPO) price at $34 a share, hitting the top of its anticipated range and valuing the company at $6.5 billion. This move comes on the heels of Reddit’s recent partnership with Google, which allows the tech giant to utilize Reddit’s data for training AI models.

The company will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol RDDT, inviting investors to be a part of its journey as it transitions from a privately held entity to a public company. Reddit’s IPO is being closely watched by the market and industry analysts, given the significant role social media platforms play in the digital economy and the broader cultural landscape.

Taylor Swift fans create seismic activity at ‘Eras Tour’ concert

Taylor Swift’s fans, famously known as Swifties, have taken their fervor for the pop icon to seismic proportions—literally. A group of scientists from Caltech and UCLA discovered that Swift’s ‘Eras Tour’ concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, from August 20-23, caused actual seismic activity, now dubbed ‘Swift Quakes.’

The research team installed strong motion sensors at the stadium to measure the seismic signals generated by the dancing and jumping of the more than 70,000 attendees. By analyzing the data with spectrograms, which are graphs that track wave length frequencies, the scientists confirmed the crowd’s movements indeed created seismic activity.

Remarkably, the song that registered the highest magnitude on their scale, with a reading of 0.851, was Swift’s hit “Shake It Off.” This finding, recently published by the team, highlights the intense energy and enthusiasm of Swift’s fan base, proving that Swifties can literally move the earth with their collective celebration of their favorite artist’s music.

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