NATO, R. Kelly Sentence, and the Barkley Marathons Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, June 30, and we're covering a big move by NATO, the sentencing of a former R&B star, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



NATO Makes Formal Invitation

NATO leaders formally invited Finland and Sweden to join its military alliance yesterday during a summit in Madrid in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The news comes one day after Turkey agreed to reverse its opposition to the countries' prospective memberships. Turkey had initially opposed the invitation due to the countries' support for Kurdish militant organizations it considers terrorist threats; Finland and Sweden agreed to drop future support of the organizations to reach the compromise. 


The NATO collective defense principle maintains that if one ally is attacked, then all allies must respond. The obligation has been invoked only once in NATO history in the aftermath of 9/11. The Biden administration also announced yesterday the US will station its first permanent troops in Poland and maintain troops in Romania.


The next step in the process requires formal approval from the legislatures of all 30 member countries, which could take several months. See an overview of the process here.

R. Kelly Sentenced to 30 Years 

Former R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison yesterday after jurors concluded he had used his fame to prey on vulnerable women and minors for decades.


The 55-year-old three-time Grammy winner, whose hits include "Ignition (Remix)" and "I Believe I Can Fly," was convicted in September in a New York federal court on nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking, following a trial featuring testimony from 45 witnesses, including 11 accusers. The racketeering charge—typically used to prosecute mob bosses—was linked to Kelly's oversight of a sex ring that targeted and exploited women and minors. 


Kelly was first accused in 1996 of having sex with an underage girl in 1991, married then-15-year-old singer Aaliyah in 1994, and was acquitted on similar charges in 2008. He faces criminal trials in Illinois and Minnesota, with an upcoming trial in August in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction charges. See a timeline here.

Paris Terror Conviction

The lone surviving attacker from a group of Islamic State extremists responsible for a 2015 terrorist attack in Paris that left 130 people dead and more than 400 people injured was sentenced to life in prison yesterday. Judges also handed down verdicts for 19 others—six in absentia—with sentences ranging from two years to life in prison. 


The attack was the deadliest in France since World War II. Ten gunmen, split across three groups, carried out attacks on the night of Nov. 13, 2015 (see timeline). Targets included the Bataclan concert hall, where more than 1,500 attendees had gathered. The surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, escaped and led authorities on a four-month search across Europe before being apprehended, while the attack triggered a two-year-long state of emergency in the country. 


The case was one of the most extensive in modern French history, involving hundreds of witnesses and nearly 1 million documents. 

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Margaret Keane, painter and subject of Tim Burton's biopic "Big Eyes," dies at 94 (More) | Two-time Oscar-nominated model maker Gregory Jein dies at 76 (More)


> Carson Pickett becomes first person with limb difference to play for the US women's national soccer team (More) | Steph Curry tapped to host 2022 ESPY Awards (More)


> Snapchat launches $3.99 per month subscription plan with exclusive and early access to new features in the US and eight other countries (More)

Science & Technology

> MIT Tech Review releases its annual list of the top 35 innovators in the science and tech space under 35 years old (More)


> Scientists discover molecular signaling mechanism in the brain linked to controlling food intake; findings may lead to targeted therapies for overeating and obesity-related diseases (More)


> Analysis of wolf genomes from samples reaching back 100,000 years reveals modern dogs are derived from two separate ancient wolf populations (More)

Business & Markets

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> US stock markets end mixed (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq -0.03%) in volatile session (More)


> Bed Bath & Beyond shares down 24% after announcing departure of CEO as same-store sales dropped 24% over same period last year (More) | Cryptocurrency hedge fund Three Arrows Capital is ordered by British Virgin Islands court to liquidate its holdings (More)


> Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business unit; the company stopped selling its products in the occupied territories last year (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Ketanji Brown Jackson will be sworn in as first Black female Supreme Court Justice following Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement today (More) | Last World War II Medal of Honor recipient Hershel Williams dies at 98 (More)


> Secret Service to respond to witness testimony from Tuesday's House Jan. 6 Committee hearing, possibly disputing incident in which former President Donald Trump reportedly "lunged" at an agent (More) | Alleged incident came after Trump was told he would not be transported to the Capitol (More)


> FBI opens investigation into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans; probe is latest in a series of scandals at archdioceses (More



The Skeptic

I Spy | Margo Martindale. (Podcast) Joe Weisberg, creator of the award-winning television show "The Americans," on his brief stint with the CIA and his view on the usefulness of espionage. (Listen) | (Apple) | (Google)

The Barkley Marathons

Guardian | Sophie Ranson. One hundred miles, 50,000 feet of ascent, and unforgiving Tennessee wilderness—tag along on one of the world's most challenging endurance races. (Read)



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Visualizing the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.


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Japanese food artist creates crystal clear desserts.


Catch a ride on a flying ferry


Mansion with Millennium Falcon theater hits market for $15M.


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Clickbait: When you bring home the wrong cat.


Historybook: Aztec emperor Moctezuma II dies in battle with Spanish conquistadors (1520); Famous Oxford debate on evolution takes place (1860); Singer and civil rights activist Lena Horne born (1917); HBD Olympic legend Michael Phelps (1985). 


"Don't be afraid to feel as angry or as loving as you can, because when you feel nothing, it's just death."

- Lena Horne

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