MGM Resorts will pay up to $800M to the families of victims killed in a 2017 massacre in Las Vegas, ending litigation over the company's culpability in the worst mass shooting in US history. The announcement comes nearly two years to the day that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock blew out the window of his 32-second floor room in the Mandalay Bay hotel - owned by MGM - spraying over 1,100 bullets indiscriminately into an outdoor concert across the street. Police ultimately closed the investigation into the attack, which killed 58 and injured 851, without determining a clear motive. Paddock, who committed suicide before police arrived, was found with 24 guns - critics argued hotel management was negligent in allowing the stockpiling of weapons and ammunition in the suite.
Banksy Makes Bank
A strikingly detailed painting from secretive British street artist Banksy sold for $12M, almost ten times its assessed value heading into yesterday's auction. The 14-foot work, titled Devolved Parliament, depicts chimpanzees holding court in the British House of Commons. The price tag is a personal best for the artist at auction, passing the $1.2M garnered for an original print of the well-known Girl with Balloon, which famously self-destructed just moments after bidding closed last October (the winning bidder went through with the purchase). Banksy has been operating in stealth since as early as 1990 and is known for satirical and politically-themed graffiti art, often taking a guerrilla-style approach to working on and displaying pieces. You can see some of Banksy's best works here.
President Trump doubled down on his call for foreign countries to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden yesterday, telling reporters China should consider opening a corruption investigation. The comments mirror a controversial July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which generated a whistleblower complaint and is the current focus of a House impeachment inquiry. Also yesterday, former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, testified before staff from three House committees, releasing 60 pages of text messages between various State Department officials (read here). Part of the texts show officials aiming to launch investigations prior to a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Zelensky. Volker also reportedly warned Giuliani to be wary of Ukrainian sources supplying information about Biden's activities in the country.
Separately, the President traveled to Florida to announce improvements to private Medicare plans.
>Sesame Street creators and HBO developing new talk show featuring Elmo as the host as part of a larger production deal for HBO Max (More)
> New York state court rejects Harvey Weinstein's bid to move sexual assault trial away from New York City; Weinstein's lawyers had argued that he wouldn't get a fair trial in NYC (More)
> Actor James Franco is being sued by two former students from his acting school for alleged sexual exploitation and fraud (More)
Science & Technology
> Scientists pinpoint genetic mutations that allow butterflies to eat toxic milkweed without falling sick, then use CRISPR to reproduce the trait in fruit flies (More)
> European Union court rules that Facebook must remove illegal content if requested by an EU member country, even if content was posted by someone outside the EU (More)
> Study finds malaria-carrying mosquitoes can be carried by the wind hundreds of miles, rapidly reintroducing the disease in desert areas following the dry seasons (More)
Business & Markets
> United States and allies pushing Facebook not to encrypt messages, claiming it hinders the battle against terrorism & other crimes (More) | Facebook launches Instagram Threads which has many features similar to Snapchat – Snap shares fall ~7% on the news (More)
> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +0.8%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +1.1%) after US services-sector fall to 3-year low fuels expectations of further Fed interest rate cuts (More)
> Electric scooter giant Bird raises $275M at $2.5B valuation as scooter wars continue (More)
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Politics & World Affairs
> Reports say Secretary of Energy Rick Perry expected to announce resignation next month (More)
> Hong Kong enacts emergency laws to ban masks at protests, with punishment of up to a year in prison and fine of $3,000 (More)
> North Korea reports successful test of submarine-launched ballistic missile, the first such test in three years (More)
Joaquin Phoenix on His Joker
Vanity Fair | Joe Hagan. Riding the hype (and controversy) around his new movie Joker,out this weekend, Phoenix discusses his complicated journey through acting and how he's learned to leave dark characters on the set. (Read)
"We're Not Going Anywhere"
ESPN | Greg Wyshynski. Stepping into the aftermath of the Canadian League's collapse and trying to put a player boycott behind them, the National Women's Hockey League begins its fifth season tomorrow, trying to manage expansion and expectations. (Read)
Everything That You’re Feeling is Okay
The Trace | Ann Givens. In the wake of mass shootings, who looks after the investigators and coroners that must get hands-on with humanity's ugliest side? (Read)
Africa's Carbon Time Bomb
National Geographic | Ann Givens. Inside the search for a shockingly large, incredibly carbon-rich peatland hidden deep inside the Congo. (Read)
Historybook: RIP Rembrandt (1669); Orient Express makes first run from Paris to Romania (1883); Hollywood star Charlton Heston born (1923); Sputnik 1 is first satellite to orbit Earth (1957); RIP Janis Joplin (1970).
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