President Trump travels to London today to participate in a two-day meeting with partners from the North American Treaty Organization, or NATO. The gathering marks the alliance’s 70th anniversary and is expected to focus on Middle East issues, particularly NATO-member Turkey’s recent incursion into Syria. Trump has butted heads with other NATO leaders, previously refusing to formally endorse the body’s foundational principle of mutual defense. The president has also consistently criticized the spending levels of NATO’s European countries. Members of the organization, meant to provide collective defense among the partners, are expected to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, but only eight of the 29 countries meet those requirements (see numbers here). Trump has been credited with helping drive an uptick in spending - just four countries met the commitment as of early last year.
Kind of know what NATO does, but not really? Start here.
A Royal Reckoning
The scandal surrounding Britain's Prince Andrew deepened yesterday as Virginia Giuffre, who has long claimed she was forced to have sex with the prince as a minor, gave her first major television interview. Giuffre says she was introduced to the Duke of York via the now-deceased Jeffrey Epstein and his underage sex trafficking ring in 2001 when she was 17 years old, charges Prince Andrew has vigorously denied. The appearance comes on the heels of a interview by Andrew in which he defended his ties with Epstein and appeared to lack empathy for the victims. The resulting backlash forced Andrew to step back from public duties and has driven Prince Charles, next in line to assume the throne, to assert control over the family. In particular, Charles will reportedly limit the number of public-facing royal family members to his sons, William and Harry, and their families.
The government of Samoa said it would close for two days in an effort to combat an outbreak of measles that has ripped across the island nation over the past month. The epidemic is responsible for more than 3,700 illnesses and 53 deaths, 48 of which have come in children under 4 years old. The all-hands-on-deck effort will have all government employees assisting in a mass vaccination campaign for its population of nearly 200,000 people. Early reports suggest the virus was brought to the island by a traveler from New Zealand ($$, WashPo), spreading like wildfire in the country with a startlingly low vaccination rate hovering just above 30%. Experts say the contagious nature of the disease, which can live for two hours in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, requires close to 95% to achieve herd immunity.
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In The Know
Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> “Marriage Story” is big winner at 2019 Gotham Awards, winning Best Feature and three other awards; Netflix pulled in six wins at the awards show honoring independent films (More)
> Lionel Messi, Megan Rapinoe win Ballon d’Or, given to world’s best men's and women's soccer players; win is Messi’s sixth, breaking tie with Cristiano Ronaldo (More)
> Producer Jason Blum, Oscar-winning writer Charles Randolph tapped for WeWork film about the rise of the commercial real estate startup (More)
Science & Technology
> China passes law requiring any new mobile phone users, including those purchasing new phones, to have their faces scanned (More) | Embattled Chinese telecom Huawei says its new phones are "America-free" (More)
> Researchers demonstrate control over microbial metabolism, allowing bacteria to switch between growth and producing useful byproducts; approach increases yield in select cases up to tenfold (More)
> Paleontologists make unlikely find, recover 75-million-year-old insect trapped in amber, stuck to hadrosaur jawbone (More)
Business & Markets
> Cyber Monday sales surge to record $9.2B, up 17% over last year; first day US consumers spent more than $3B using their smartphones in a 24-hour period (More) > President Trump announces tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina (More) | US may also add tariffs on $2.4B of French imports after concluding France’s digital tax would hamper US tech firms (More)
> US stock markets down (S&P 500 -0.9%, Dow -1.0%, Nasdaq -1.1%) as US manufacturing index falls for fourth consecutive month and continued trade war concerns worry investors (More)
Transferring your balance to a 21-month 0% APR is ingenious. This card offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for a lengthy 21 months (More) #Ad
Politics & World Affairs
> Rep. Duncan Hunter (R, CA-50) to plead guilty in corruption case (More) | Election 2020: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock drops bid for Democratic presidential nomination, won't run for Senate (More)
> Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to reportedly choose businesswoman and political newcomer Kelly Loeffler to replace retiring Senator Johnny Isakson (More)
> Estimates say new sex abuse lawsuits could cost the Catholic Church more than $4B in damages; rules in 15 states extend or suspend statute of limitations (More)
NYT | Jamie Lauren Keiles. Actor and comedian Adam Sandler has settled comfortably into his role as America's best-known man-child, pumping out goofy and youthful comedies year after year. However Sandler's newest role in the thriller "Uncut Gems" has him tapping into his less-used - and underappreciated - repertoire of acting skills. (Read, $$)
Can Bee Stings Treat Lyme Disease?
Texas Monthly | Katy Vine. With a complicated pathology, Lyme disease is frequently misdiagnosed and has left doctors and patients searching for answers. In the face of debilitating chronic pain, some are turning toward ages-old alternatives, like periodic bee stings. (Read)
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Historybook: RIP novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (1894); HBD rock star Ozzy Osbourne (1948); HBD actress Julianne Moore (1960); First human heart transplant carried out (1967); Mikhail Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush declare end to Cold War (1989).
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