Weight-Loss Researchers Make a Breakthrough

Happy Thursday! Did you know the Library of Congress has a “free to use and reuse” section featuring millions of photos, books, films, and sound recordings that are either in the public domain, have no known copyright, or have been cleared by the copyright owner for public use?

Did you know one of the most popular items in said section is a picture of a cat dressed as Brünnhilde from Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Members-elect failed once again to elect a Speaker of the House on Wednesday, as no candidate for the position received the requisite majority support in the fourth, fifth, or sixth round of voting before the chamber adjourned for the evening just after 8 p.m. ET. Despite another endorsement from former President Donald Trump, Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy faced 21 Republican defections on all three rounds of balloting, with 20 lawmakers throwing their support behind Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida and one voting “present.” But after another round of concessions—which included promises not to back candidates in certain Republican primaries, spots for additional Freedom Caucus members on the powerful Rules Committee, and a lower threshold to oust the speaker—McCarthy and his allies remain hopeful he can break the logjam when the House reconvenes today at noon. It’s far from certain, however, that he’s converted enough opponents to secure the gavel.
  • Despite the Federal Reserve’s best efforts, the U.S. labor market remains incredibly tight, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Job openings in the United States remained essentially unchanged month-over-month in November at a near-record 10.5 million, down from the measure’s peak of 11.9 million in March. The quits rate—the percentage of workers who quit their job during the month—ticked up from 2.6 to 2.7 percent, while the number of layoffs and discharges held steady at 1.4 million.
  • U.S. Central Command announced Wednesday that two rockets had targeted Mission Support Site Conoco, a base housing U.S. and coalition troops in northeast Syria. Though no individuals or entities claimed responsibility for the attack, it came shortly after the third anniversary of the United States’ killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani. No injuries or damage were reported.
  • Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 technical lead, told reporters Wednesday the latest Omicron strain—confirmed to be in at least 29 countries, including the United States—is the “most transmissible subvariant that has been detected yet,” though she added there’s no reason to think it causes more severe illness than previous iterations of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the variant in question—XBB.1.5—has gone from accounting for less than 3 percent of new infections in the United States a month ago to about 40 percent last week.
  • With a new Senate sworn in, President Joe Biden announced dozens of nominations this week for various posts within the federal government, from circuit court judges to members of the Amtrak board of directors to the ambassador to Cabo Verde. Biden also re-nominated several people who had not been confirmed during the previous Congress—like Gigi Sohn at the Federal Communications Commission—in the hopes they’ll now have enough support in a 51-49 Democratic Senate. The FCC has been deadlocked—with two Republican-appointed commissioners and two Democratic-appointed commissioners—for Biden’s entire term.

A New Era for Obesity Treatments

A man shows weight-loss by holding his blue jeans in front of him.

No offense to the doctors in the room, but the average medical research conference presentation—often held in a stuffy hotel ballroom, maybe just after lunch—is more likely to put its audience to sleep than get them on their feet cheering. 

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