11.30.2023

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Good morning. It's Thursday, Nov. 30, and we're covering a rare vote in Congress, an alleged assassination plot on US soil, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Santos Expulsion Vote

House lawmakers are poised to hold a third and potentially historic vote this week to expel Rep. George Santos (R, NY-3) from Congress after a House Ethics Committee report (read here) this month accused the 35-year-old of campaign fraud, misuse of campaign funds, and other federal crimes. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R, LA-4) announced yesterday that a vote on the privileged resolution for Santos' expulsion will take place tomorrow. 

 

Santos, who is in his first year in office and faces 23 federal fraud charges in New York, survived two previous expulsion attempts. The charges came after a federal probe following reports last year alleging Santos fabricated or exaggerated many parts of his resume and personal history (see timeline of events). Santos has said he will not run for reelection next year and believes he is likely to be expelled in the third vote. A two-thirds supermajority vote will be needed to remove Santos from the House. Only five members of Congress have been expelled in US history. 

 

Amid the expulsion procedures, a 15-foot inflatable balloon of Santos was spotted near the US Capitol this week. 

 

Cosmic Resonance

Astronomers have observed a rare instance of a solar system inside the Milky Way whose planets orbit in sync around their host star, according to a study published yesterday. Researchers believe the motion of the planets has remained virtually unchanged since the system's formation roughly 4 billion years ago. 

 

The four closest planets display what is known as 3:2 resonance—for every three orbits a planet makes around the host star, the next farthest planet completes two orbits. The next two planets display a similar 4:3 resonance. Typically, newborn systems are knocked out of balance by some disruptive event (for example, collisions with asteroids). Because the planets in question have maintained their original orbits, their study is expected to shed light on the early stages of star system formation. 

 

The host star is also the brightest discovered to date to have more than four planets orbiting around it. Visualize the motion of the six planets here.

 

Indian Assassination Plot in US

An Indian government employee conspired to assassinate a US citizen in June, US prosecutors charged yesterday. The foiled plot allegedly targeted a New York City-based Sikh separatist leader, a faction of the Indian religious minority group who seeks an independent state in northern India (see 101).

 

Charging documents detail the unnamed senior officer's recruitment of 52-year-old Indian national Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman in May. Gupta's efforts led him unwittingly to an FBI source, who referred Gupta to an agent undercover as an assassin. The target, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, is an attorney for the separatist group Sikhs for Justice and was designated as a terrorist in 2020 by New Delhi. Gupta was arrested upon traveling to the Czech Republic in late June.

 

The news threatens to strain ties between the US and its ally India as each looks to counter China's global influence. US officials claim the plot was connected to the killing of another Sikh separatist in Ottawa that same month, which later prompted a diplomatic spat between Canada and India.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Salt Lake City, Utah, tapped to host 2034 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games; Salt Lake City last hosted the Olympics in 2002 (More)

> Taylor Swift is Spotify's most-streamed artist of 2023, ending Bad Bunny's three-year streak atop the platform (More) | Actor Jonathan Majors' assault and harassment trial begins in New York City (More)

Mark Cuban to sell majority stake in NBA's Dallas Mavericks to casino magnate Miriam Adelson for a reported $3.5B (More) | New York Jets' Aaron Rodgers returns to practice just 11 weeks after surgery to repair a torn Achilles (More)

From our partners: Savvy savers and smart spenders, listen up. Get you a card that can do both. And The Ascent's experts landed on this one as a five-star-rated card for this holiday season. Learn more today.

 

Science & Technology

> Virgin Atlantic flies a commercial Boeing 787 from London to New York powered solely by animal fats; approach could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation industry by 70% (More)

> Researchers comprehensively map cells in the cerebellum of humans, mice, and possums; analysis provides insight into the evolution of the key brain region in mammals (More) | What does the cerebellum do? (More, w/video)

> Cellphone tracking study shows residents in large metropolitan areas are significantly less likely to interact with people outside of their socioeconomic status than those living in small cities and towns (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow +0.0%, Nasdaq -0.2%) following higher-than-expected Q3 US gross domestic product growth at annualized rate of 5.2% (More) | Salesforce beats Q3 revenue and earnings expectations (More

> Healthcare insurers Cigna and Humana reportedly in talks to merge by the end of this year (More) | Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial to sell 25% stake in London's Heathrow Airport for $3B to private equity fund Ardian (15%) and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (10%) (More

> United Auto Workers launches union campaigns at 13 automakers, including Tesla, Toyota, BMW, and Nissan (More) | General Motors cuts 2024 spending for autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise following safety concerns (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Israel, Hamas swap 16 hostages and 30 Palestinian prisoners in sixth and final day of temporary cease-fire deal amid talks over another possible extension (More) | See updates on the war (More)

> Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger passes away at age 100 (More) | US Air Force Osprey crashes off southern Japan, killing at least one of the crew members onboard (More)

> US life expectancy rose in 2022 to 77.5 years from 76.4 years in 2021, according to latest government data; rise is still below prepandemic levels and mainly due to waning COVID-19 pandemic (More) | Record high of 49,449 people died by suicide in the US in 2022, up 3% from 2021 (More)

 

In-Depth

> River of Gold

Archaeology | Ling Xin. An excavation in China's Min River reveals the life of a notorious 17th-century warlord who met a bloody fate at the dawn of the Qing dynasty. (Read)

 

> The Search for the Mystery Whale

Hakai Magazine | Andrew Chapman. Near an underwater mountain off the coast of Hawaii, researchers have spent nearly two decades searching for an elusive species of whale they've heard, but never seen. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

This year’s best new restaurants according to Yelp.

 

Meet this year's Forbes 30 under 30

 

Sheet music discovered at Auschwitz played publicly for the first time.

 

See how well you can haggle with AI to purchase real products.

 

Russian prison plays Bon Jovi and Moby on repeat.

 

Strong winds topple the National Christmas Tree

 

"Home Alone" tops poll of most rewatched Christmas movies

 

Kraft’s newest Mac & Cheese ditches the cheese.

 

Clickbait: How a 1574 painting was made "Insta-fabulous."

 

Historybook: Winston Churchill born (1874); Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" released, becomes bestselling album in history (1982); Model Chrissy Teigen born (1985); Exxon and Mobil merge to form one of the world's largest companies (1999); President George HW Bush dies (2018).

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