Budget Deal, Facebook's New Name, and Scary Stories for Halloween Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Friday, Oct. 29, and we're covering a renegotiated social spending package, a big change at Facebook, and more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Budget Framework Released

The Biden administration yesterday released an updated version of its sweeping social spending package, a proposal that follows months of negotiations with centrist Democrats. The price tag for the plan is estimated at $1.75T.


The final top-line spending level is significantly below the initially proposed $3.5T, with a number of provisions cut out or trimmed down (see list). The framework includes more than $550B for climate change-related investments, $400B for universal prekindergarten and child care provisions, $200B for the child tax and earned income tax credits for one year, and more. 


Excluded are provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, a controversial tax on the unrealized gains of billionaires, paid family leave, and more. Much of the proposal would be paid for by a 5% extra tax on incomes over $10M and a further 3% tax on incomes over $25M, among other items. 


The tentative agreement may unlock consideration of a parallel $1T bipartisan infrastructure bill, which progressive House Democrats have thus far refused to back until the social spending package was agreed to.

Facebook Goes Meta

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday the company would rebrand itself under the name Meta, an umbrella company under which a number of platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others would be situated. The move is similar to Google's creation of Alphabet in 2015, the parent company for Google and a number of related companies. 


The rebrand also reflects the company's attempt to shift from Facebook, the web-based social network, to what it has deemed the Metaverse (see 101)—a vision of an immersive virtual reality world with millions of real-time users. Technologists have suggested that such digital worlds may be used for work, concerts, family gatherings, and more. Experts said it may take a decade or more to fully develop the platform at a large scale. 


The change comes as the company faces an onslaught of criticism following the leak of documents revealing internal research and decision-making.

Charleston Church Settlement

The Justice Department announced yesterday it had reached an $88M settlement with the victims and their families of a mass shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. 


Then 21-year-old Dylann Roof killed nine parishioners at the predominantly Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. An avowed white supremacist, Roof was found guilty on 33 counts and became the first person sentenced to death for federal hate crimes. The victims' families sued the federal government after it was revealed a breakdown in the FBI's background check system, which would have flagged a previous felony drug charge, allowed Roof to purchase the gun used in the attack.


Families of the victims will be allotted $63M in the settlement, with $23M reserved for survivors of the attack. 

Have a spooky (and safe) Halloween weekend!

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

Brought to you by Mizzen+Main

> The Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros face off tonight (8 pm ET, Fox) in Game 3 of World Series with series tied 1-1 (More) | NAACP calls on pro athletes to not sign with Texas teams due to state's abortion and voting laws (More)


> Joel Quenneville resigns as head coach of NHL's Florida Panthers over his involvement in Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal (More)


> Olivia Rodrigo (7) and The Weeknd (6) lead for most nominations for 2021 American Music Awards (Nov. 21, 8 pm ET, ABC) (More)

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Science & Technology

> New gene-editing technique allows researchers to switch on enzymes responsible for DNA mutations (More)


> Scientists recreate the classic Miller-Urey experiment demonstrating the building blocks of organic life could be created from inorganic precursors; study finds minerals in borosilicate glass speed up the rate at which compounds form (More)


> Apple joins Belgian-based international consortium focused on reducing the environmental impact of producing computer chips (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.0%, Dow +0.7%, Nasdaq +1.4%); S&P 500 and Nasdaq close at fresh record highs (More)


> US gross domestic product grows at lower-than-expected 2% annualized rate in third quarter, the slowest growth rate since the pandemic-induced plunge in Q2 2020 (More)


> Shares of Apple fall in after-hours trading as company misses revenue expectations due to supply chain shortages (More) | Amazon shares fall in after-hours trading after missing Q3 revenue and earnings expectations and lowering Q4 guidance (More

Politics & World Affairs

> Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) faces a misdemeanor charge relating to numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault (More)


> Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirms reports that a small number of US troops have been stationed on the disputed island in the East China Sea for training purposes since at least last year (More)


> State Department calls on the United Nations to probe reports of torture by the Myanmar military; the country underwent a military coup in February (More)



The Demon at the Window

Truly*Adventurous | Travis Brown. The tale of Cape Cod's Devil of the Dunes, who allegedly prowled Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the height of World War II. (Read)

The Nuisance

Human Parts | Alexander Chee. What happens when you try and ignore a relatively chilled-out ghost? (Read)

My Mother, the Ghost Hunter

Texas Monthly | Cat Cardenas. Inside the world of TikTok star Brittany Broski and her mother Heather Long, lead investigator of the Texas Ghost Gals. (Read)

The Exorcisms of Latoya Ammons

IndyStar | Marisa Kwiatkowski. (From 2014) This look at Indiana's "hell house"—investigated by police in the city of Gary—is one of our favorite scary reads. (Read)



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A brief history of the Halloween costume.


An interactive map of each state's favorite Halloween candy.


... and the ultimate candy power rankings.


The best of three decades of the Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror."


The candy calculator.


New York school district bans "Squid Game" costumes.


Ranking the 50 best horror flicks of all time.


Trick-or-treat has no age limit, experts say.


Clickbait: Satanists are influencing school dress codes.


Historybook: Sir Walter Raleigh is executed (1618); International Red Cross is formed (1863); "Joy of Painting" host Bob Ross born (1942); HBD Gabrielle Union (1972); John Glenn becomes the oldest NASA astronaut in space at age 77 (1998).


"We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves."

- John Glenn

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