🌊 Hey Big Splenda 👎

WHO gives Splenda a 👎, missing girl Netflix miracle, and Patient M

US News & World Report just dropped its new rankings for the best metro areas to live in the US. Of course, the top spot went to…. Green Bay, WI. Between its low crime, affordable housing, and clean air, Green Bay beat out Hunstville, Boulder, Naples, and more. But the city’s message to Bears fans and the lactose intolerant remains the same: Stay Out.

In today's edition:

  • WHO gives Splenda a 👎

  • Missing girl Netflix miracle

  • Patient M

 🔑 Key Stories

OpenAI CEO Testifies

The CEO of OpenAI, the company that owns ChatGPT, testified before the Senate on Tuesday

  • Several senators expressed concern about AI’s ability to imitate people’s likeness, with one calling that prospect “scary.” Another compared it to social media and said it needs to be regulated

  • OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, said he “understands” why people are worried about AI; “We are, too,” he added. He advocated for a “new [government] agency” to license AI and ensure companies comply with regulations

  • He said AI will likely “automate away some jobs,” and that it’s the government’s job to figure out how to stop that

Dig Deeper

  • This March, thousands of tech, industry, and financial leaders signed an open letter calling on the government to regulate AI. It also called for a 6-month pause on new AI development, pending regulations. Numerous tech leaders, including Elon Musk, signed it, but Sam Altman did not

WHO: Splenda Ain’t It

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that artificial sweeteners aren’t effective for weight loss

  • In a report released on Monday, the WHO reviewed 283 prior studies on artificial sweeteners. It found no evidence that their use had long-term benefits for weight or body fat levels

  • It also found evidence that artificial sweeteners increase users’ risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and death. The recommendation does not apply to people with diabetes

  • Several artificial sweetener industry groups criticized the findings as unsubstantiated

Dig Deeper

  • "People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugars intake, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages,” a WHO official said

  • The International Sweeteners Association, an industry group, said it is “disappointed that the WHO’s conclusions are largely based on low certainty evidence”: the Calorie Control Council called the sweeteners a “critical tool [to] manage body weight”

US Virgin Islands Subpoena Musk

The US Virgin Islands subpoenaed Elon Musk for documents about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein

  • The US Virgin Islands – a US territory – is suing JPMorgan (JPM), the US’ largest bank, for allegedly enabling Epstein’s sexual abuse

  • Per court documents, the US Virgin Islands believes Musk may have been referred to JPMorgan – which at one point managed Tesla’s commercial assets – by Epstein. It has subpoenaed all records from Musk related to his communications with Epstein or JPM

  • Musk called Epstein a “cretin” and called the allegations “idiotic on so many levels”

Dig Deeper

  • The nature of Musk’s relationship with Epstein is unclear, but Epstein told the New York Times in 2018 that he had advised Musk on dealing with a legal issue. Tesla denied those claims. Tesla and JPMorgan have since sued and countersued each other over a related legal issue

Free, Online Tax Filing?

The IRS is testing an e-filing system that allows people to file their taxes directly with the IRS for free

  • There is currently no government-provided service to file taxes digitally and free. Some people pay accountants; many use paid e-filing services like H&R Block and TurboTax

  • The IRS has commissioned a think tank to provide proposals on how it could create its own free e-filing service, a report from which is expected later this week

  • In the meantime, the Washington Post reports that the IRS has begun piloting an e-filing prototype that will be launched as soon as January for a small group of people

Dig Deeper

  • “A direct-to-IRS e-file system is wholly redundant and is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem,” an Intuit spokesperson said. Others have expressed concern it will hurt the $14.4B-per-year e-filing industry

🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • This. Is. Pat’s Center: A blockbuster deal will send “The Pat McAfee Show” to ESPN. It will be a full-time show starting this fall, and will also reportedly still air on YouTube

  • Mega-pint of applause: Johnny Depp returned to the spotlight with the Cannes premiere of his new movie Jeanne Du Barry. The crowd gave it a 7-minute standing ovation

  • Some wiggle shroom: Marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and New York City are selling magic mushrooms despite the fact they’re still illegal, per the LA Times and sources in New York

Wildcard

  • Paws-itively guilty: A Colorado driver is accused of putting his dog in the driver’s seat when the police pulled him over for suspected drunk driving. He then proceeded to run away from the police

  • Cover band idiot: Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong surprised a cover band in a London pub and joined them on stage to perform a Green Day song

  • Make it a *Solved Mystery: A missing girl that was featured on the Netflix show “Unsolved Mysteries” was found safe and alive in North Carolina after a stranger recognized her

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

I prefer to drink my water with...🧊

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Today's Question:

What is your go-to shoe?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

In spring 1938, a 25-year-old man was left wounded on a Spanish Civil War battlefield.

A bullet had entered the back of his head, traveled 3.5 inches through his brain, and exited the top of his skull.

The man was left in a coma and eventually taken to a military hospital, where a doctor named Justo Gonzalo began treating him.

Gonzalo happened to be a neuroscientist.

He belonged to the same tradition as the Spanish neuroscientist who first identified the neuron as the fundamental unit of the nervous system, earning him a 1906 Nobel Prize.

The patient woke up after 2 weeks without needing surgery. Something was wrong, though: He was experiencing the world in reverse. The patient perceived people as walking upside down and registered sensations on the opposite side of his body from where they were actually happening.

He also saw objects in triple, and perceived colors as being detached from their objects. He said upside-down and right-side-up words appeared identical, and he could easily read both.

Gonzalo began conducting research on the man – who was only identified as ”Patient M” – alongside hundreds of other brain-injury patients. Gonzalo’s finding would help develop how we understand the brain today.

Last month, Gonzalo’s daughter published a study in the journal Neurologia that sheds more light on Patient M’s case, and how it informed modern theories of neuroscience.

At the time of Patient M’s injury in 1938, many neuroscientists believed the brain operated as a network of localized chambers. Each chamber controlled specific functions, and damage to a chamber would block its relevant functions from being performed.

That theory suggested that damage to a brain region should render the victim incapable of performing the region’s tasks. But Patient M and other trauma patients contradicted that.

Gonzalo realized brain injury symptoms depend on the injury’s location and intensity. That led Gonzalo to conclude that the brain’s “chambers” were actually a gradient. Rather than being distinct, he concluded, brain regions flowed into each other.

Gonzalo further concluded that a brain injury would change how that section of the gradient’s neurons responded to stimuli. That explained why Patient M’s brain continued to function, although in a distorted manner.

Some neuroscientists came to consider that an essential principle of brain organization, and Gonzalo became a celebrated neuroscientist before dying in 1986.

Until the end of Gonzalo’s life, he remained close to Patient M, who lived into his 80s. And according to the newly published study, Patient M often didn’t notice his condition.

Despite living in reverse, it said, he managed “his daily life without difficulties.”

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Jelly/jam flavor?

Grape: 29%

Strawberry: 71%

Yesterday's Question:

Do you agree with the saying “health is wealth”?

Alli from Oklahoma: “With this medical system, wealth is health! So many people can't be healthy because either they can't afford healthy food or don't even have the time between two minimum wage jobs to eat and exercise properly, and not to mention health insurance.”

R.E. from Wisconsin: “Yes. Being healthy means less spending on medical needs, and allows you the physical ability to pursue that which you wish to do - whether it's to try for accumulated monetary wealth, and/or to accomplish things that will bring you emotional/mental/spiritual wealth.”

Zach from Kansas: “I’m a personal trainer so definitely biased, but I do agree that health is wealth. I think most people would give up all of their wealth from their death bed if it meant they could continue living healthfully. And I doubt many people would be happy to sacrifice their health for more money. Example: would you cut off a limb for $1,000,000?”

🧠 Final Thoughts

Happy Wednesday everyone. Just a brief reminder: Big News is trying to divide and scare Americans. Roca is thrilled to have you riding the wave. Thank you for doing so!

–Max and Max