12.19.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Dec. 19, and we're covering a deadly earthquake in northwestern China, the sale of an iconic American company, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Breaking news: At least 111 people were killed and more than 200 injured after a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck northwestern China midnight local time Monday; see updates here. Separately, a volcano eruption has begun in southwestern Iceland, near the town of Grindavik, which evacuated last month; see updates here

East Coast Storm 

An intense storm system battered the northeast coast of the US yesterday with high winds, heavy rain, and flooding, leaving 59 million people from Virginia to Maine under flood watches and knocking out power for more than 700,000 people. At least four people were killed in the storm.

 

More than 500 flights were canceled across the region, particularly to and from airports in New York City and Boston, with Boston Logan International Airport seeing winds as high as 68 mph. The storm also dumped between 2 to 5 inches of rain across the Northeast. See photos from the storm here.

 

Yesterday's heavy rains are part of the same storm system that pummeled Florida and the Carolinas over the weekend, bringing record-setting rainfall in some areas. Charleston saw its fourth-highest tide on record at 9.86 feet and set a daily record Sunday with 3.86 inches of rain. 

 

Separately, remnants of a tropical cyclone brought 30 to 40 inches of rain to Australia's northeast coast, leading to crocodile sightings and submerging an airport. 

 

US Steel Deal

US Steel Corp. agreed to be purchased by Nippon Steel yesterday in an all-cash $14.9B deal, marking a significant move for the Japanese steel giant in the US. The acquisition is set at $55 per share and will assume US Steel’s debt. The merger, if approved, would retain the US headquarters in Pittsburgh.

 

Founded in 1901 by Andrew Carnegie, Elbert Gary, Charles Schwab, and JP Morgan through the merger of several steel companies (see history), US Steel was once the world's largest company and the first to be valued at over $1B. It fueled America's construction boom, including iconic buildings like Chicago's Willis Tower and the UN building in New York City, but later faced industrial decline.

 

The acquisition would position Nippon as the world’s third-largest steelmaker, after China Baowu Group and Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal. US Steel rejected a bid earlier this year by rival Cleveland-Cliffs that would have purchased the company at $35 per share.

 

The merger is pending shareholder and regulatory approval and will likely face opposition from the United Steelworkers union, who have cited contractual demands for new labor agreements before the sale is final.

 

Jimmy Lai Trial

Jailed media magnate and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai began his long-delayed trial in Hong Kong yesterday for charges under China's 2020 National Security Law. The founder of the city's long-running "Apple Daily" newspaper—which shut down in 2021—has long criticized Chinese policies and faces a life sentence if found guilty.

 

Hong Kong, the special administrative region of China and international financial hub (see background), has enjoyed unusual independence from Communist Party control since the UK ceded it back to China in 1997. In recent years, China has asserted greater control, culminating in mass protests in 2019. In response, China promulgated the antidissent National Security Law the next year, under which nearly 300 protestors have been arrested; dozens await verdicts in a separate trial under the law. 

 

Prosecutors charged Lai with breaching national security and sedition for his activism in news outlets and on social media. The trial is expected to last three months.

In partnership with EnergyX

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Actor Jonathan Majors found guilty of assault and harassment, faces up to a year in prison at Feb. 6 sentencing (More) | Majors dropped by Marvel Studios in wake of guilty verdict (More)

> UEFA Champions League round of 16 set; see complete schedule and matchups for the knockout stage (More) | Eric Montross, eight-year NBA veteran and former University of North Carolina star, dies of cancer at 52 (More)

> Dress worn by Princess Diana fetches record-breaking $1.1M at auction (More) | James McCaffrey, longtime voice actor known for "Max Payne," dies of cancer at 65 (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Apple to halt sales of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models in the US this week due to trade commission rule in a patent dispute over the devices' blood oxygen sensor technology (More)

> Researchers discover new method Ebola uses to spread inside the body; the deadly virus creates tunnels between cells, evading treatments that may be outside the cell wall (More)

> James Webb Space Telescope captures high-resolution image of Uranus, revealing 13 rings and nine moons (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close up (S&P 500 +0.5%, Dow +0.0%, Nasdaq +0.6%); Nasdaq closes higher for eighth day (More

> Adobe scraps $20B deal to buy design-software maker Figma, citing regulatory challenges in Europe and the UK; Adobe to pay $1B termination fee to Figma (More) | Yogurt maker Chobani acquires coffee shop chain La Colombe for $900M (More

> Southwest Airlines to pay record $140M to settle federal investigation into 2022 holiday service disruptions (More) | Founder and former CEO of electric vehicle startup Nikola sentenced to four years in prison for making fraudulent statements to increase stock price (More)

From our partners: Big bonus for a big year. This card is offering a rare $300 welcome bonus. Bonuses like this don't come around that often. That's why thousands are lining up for this card. Learn more now.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> US defense secretary arrives in Israel for talks, including concerns over civilian death toll in Gaza (More) | BP suspends shipments of oil through the Red Sea amid attacks from Iran-backed Houthi rebels (More) | See updates on Israel-Hamas war (More)

> Appeals court rejects former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' bid to move his Georgia election interference case to federal court (More) | Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signs law allowing state law enforcement to arrest migrants who cross the border from Mexico illegally (More) | Judge temporarily halts removal of Confederate monument in Arlington National Cemetery (More

> Pope Francis formally signs off on allowing Roman Catholic priests to administer blessings to same-sex couples, provided the rituals don't resemble the sacrament of marriage (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Rock Island

Robb Report | Mark Ellwood. The Caribbean island of Montserrat served as a muse for some of the biggest rockstars of the 1980s before disasters struck the island. More than 25 years later, it is ready for a comeback. (Read)

 

> Confessions of a Mafia Boss

Air Mail | Jake Adelstein. A writer navigates how to write about the yakuza, or Japanese mafia, balancing the pursuit of truth with protecting the identities of his informants. (Read)

In partnership with EnergyX

How GM Is Securing Its Lithium Supply

 

The world will need to produce 3.8 million tons of lithium per year by 2035 to meet

the demand for electric vehicles. General Motors is turning to one startup to unlock US-based lithium supply: EnergyX. EnergyX’s patented LiTASTM technology can

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GM led a $50 million funding round in EnergyX earlier this year, and EnergyX is now

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Etcetera
 

The year's biggest moments in photos, via USA Today.

 

Visualizing how different languages laugh online

 

Pakistan uses artificial rain to battle smog

 

A 90-year-old earns a master's degree.

 

How hard candy flavors are made. (w/video) 

 

Generate your own digital plant.

 

London to open a 2024 exhibition all about cuteness.

 

Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly building a bunker in Hawaii.  

 

Clickbait: When your Christmas tree comes with a free owl.

 

Historybook: First edition of "The American Crisis" published by Thomas Paine (1776); French entertainer Édith Piaf born (1915); First National Hockey League game played (1917); President Eisenhower’s Christmas message is first radio broadcast from space (1958); President Clinton is impeached (1998).

"Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Why 1440? The printing press was invented around the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history. More facts: In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. We’re here to make each one count.

 

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*Disclosure: This is a paid advertisement for EnergyX's Regulation A+ Offering. Please read the offering circular at invest.energyx.com/

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