11.22.2019

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Need To Know
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Netanyahu Indicted
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on multiple charges including bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, the country's attorney general announced yesterday. The charges stem from three long-running cases: Netanyahu is alleged to have taken improper gifts from a number of businessmen; he is accused of pushing legislation that would weaken a competitor of Israel's largest paper, Yediot Aharonot, in exchange for favorable coverage; and in the most serious case, he is accused of providing political favors benefiting a personal friend and telecom executive to the tune of nearly $500M. The announcement comes amid severe political paralysis in the country, which has had two national elections this year in which neither Netanyahu or opposition leader Benny Gantz successfully formed coalition government.
 
The decision puts the country in uncharted territory and it remains to be seen whether Netanyahu will step down - voluntarily or otherwise. 
Hong Kong Elections
Hong Kong appears set to hold district council elections this weekend despite ongoing pro-democracy protests that have threatened to boil over in recent weeks. District councils are the most localized offices in the city's government (similar to city or neighborhood councils in the US) and have little policymaking power. Despite the low-level ballot, the elections have taken on special significance in light of the demonstrations. Expected to be a stinging rebuke to Beijing and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Chinese officials reportedly considered canceling the elections but feared the resulting backlash. In the background, Congress sent a bill to President Trump's desk requiring an annual assessment of Hong Kong's autonomy - a prospect that has left Beijing fuming

Read about the "one country, two systems" approach Hong Kongers live under.
Public Hearings Wrap
Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council expert on Russia and Europe, and David Holmes, a senior official at the US embassy in Kyiv, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday in the last of a series of public hearings examining the White House's relationship with Ukraine. Hill, who held positions in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, sparred with lawmakers over the theory that Ukraine - not Russia - was behind a substantial amount of meddling in the 2016 US election (see 101). Though more witnesses could be called, Hill and Holmes appear to conclude the public portion of the impeachment inquiry. 

So what's next? The Intelligence Committee will produce a summary report, after which the Judiciary Committee will consider articles of impeachment. Likely to be approved by the Democrat-controlled House, the case will be tried in the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds vote would be needed for removal from office. The proceedings are expected to last into early 2020. 
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In The Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Victoria's Secret cancels annual fashion show, citing declining TV ratings; viewership dropped by two-thirds since 2013 (More)
> MLB expands probe into Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, will investigate past three seasons (More) | Derek Jeter sells Players' Tribune, a website he founded in 2014 featuring athlete-written content (More)
> Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, country star Alison Krauss among those honored with National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medals at White House ceremony (More)
Science & Technology
> Astronomers measure the most intense gamma ray bursts ever recorded; energetic bursts can release more energy than the Sun in its entire lifetime in under a second (More)
> Scientists discover specific brain circuitry that mediates and predicts the development of compulsive drinking (More)
> Tesla unveils electric pickup truck; CEO Elon Musk pitches "cybertruck" as revolutionary design ready to take on industry-leading Ford F-150 (More)
Business & Markets
> Sources say Charles Schwab seeking to acquire fellow brokerage TD Ameritrade for $25B to create $5T asset management; shares of TD up 17%, Schwab shares up 7% (More)
> Coworking giant WeWork lays off 2,400 employees, ~19% of workforce, in latest cost-cutting measure (More)
> Marijuana stocks soar as decriminalization bill passes House Judiciary Committee; bill still needs to be approved by House and US Senate (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Report says Chilean security forces intentionally using violence to squash anti-government protests; 22 people have been killed, more than 2,300 injured (More)
> Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially enters Democratic presidential primary, will spend $15-$20M in voter registration efforts in five states (More)
> California Supreme Court blocks law requiring President Trump release tax returns to appear on 2020 primary ballot (More) | Stopgap funding measure approved, pushing budget fight to Dec. 20 (More)
Weekend Reads
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Avocado Wars
LA Times | Kate Linthicum. A bloody new front in the cartel wars is opening up in Mexico, this time over the country's multibillion-dollar avocado industry. (Read)
Inside the Fall of WeWork
Vanity Fair | Gabriel Sherman. Behind the company's very public failed IPO sat former CEO Adam Neumann, the charismatic and mercurial executive with a penchant for snake charming investors. (Read)
Podcast
Jonestown
CQ Roll Call | Staff. Relying on newly released documents, this podcast sheds light on the corruption and international intrigue behind the 1978 mass suicide that killed 918 people. (Listen)
On the Ground With the Yang Gang
Medium | Drew Magary. Andrew Yang, the former tech exec who has never held public office, is an enigma to both parties and has carved a unique band of followers. (Read)
 
 
Etcetera
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Walking through the 25 National Book Award finalists.
Experts imagine what the world will look like in 50 years ($$, Quartz).
Survey finds wealthy investors are pretty charitable
...and see America's top 50 philanthropists
The best pizzerias across America (via Thrillist). 
South Atlantic humpback whales have rebounded from the brink of extinction.
The best inventions of 2019
Piglet the tiny pink dog is teaching children about acceptance
Clickbait: When in doubt, talk about horses
Historybook: RIP author Jack London (1917); HBD tennis star and social activist Billie Jean King (1943); President John F. Kennedy assassinated (1963); RIP author C.S. Lewis (1963); British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announces resignation (1990).
You made it. Have a great weekend.
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"The proper function of man is to live, not to exist"
- Jack London
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