11.17.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Nov. 17, and we're covering the announced end to a scandal-plagued lawmaker's tenure, a sporting spectacle in the Nevada desert, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Santos Drops Reelection Bid

Rep. George Santos (R, NY-3) said he would not seek reelection in 2024, an announcement which came the same day the House Ethics Committee released a report accusing Santos of campaign fraud, misuse of campaign funds, and other federal crimes. The committee referred its evidence to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. 

 

The Santos saga started after he flipped New York's newly reconfigured 3rd Congressional District during the 2022 midterms. A few weeks after the electoral win, reports surfaced alleging Santos extensively fabricated his resume (see previous write-up), from his educational background to his Jewish ancestry. Since then, Santos has been charged with 23 federal crimes, from wire fraud to identity theft. Santos has denied the charges to date. 

 

Ethics chairman Rep. Michael Guest (R, MS-3) said he'd move to expel Santos ahead of the 2024 election. Read the committee's report here.

 

Red Cup Rebellion

Thousands of Starbucks workers from around 200 stores staged a strike yesterday on one of the company's largest promotional days of the year, marking their largest collective action yet in a two-year effort to unionize the company. Red Cup Day, when the store gives away reusable red cups, typically registers the year's highest sales—the company boasted the single highest sales day ever in 2022 despite a strike at over 100 stores.

 

Starbucks Workers United, representing over 360 stores of 16,000 US locations, was protesting understaffing and mobile ordering, which particularly overwhelms staff on promotional days. Other union demands include protections against racial harassment, a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment, and increased minimum wages. Starbucks said it is working on companywide improvements, including automating tasks and pay increases of 3%.

 

Separately, employees in New York City filed 32 complaints—in addition to 90 since February—alleging Starbucks violated the city's labor laws.

 

F1 Hits the Strip

One of the year's biggest sporting spectacles will be held this weekend, as Formula 1 racing returns to Las Vegas for the first time in four decades. The course is designed to impress—starting at a now-permanent racing garage, drivers will head down the strip, passing resorts and venues, including the Venetian, Bellagio, and the newly built Sphere. See a map of the course here.

 

While the sport has enjoyed a rapidly growing fanbase in the US—a race last year in Texas drew 440,000 attendees—the timing will be optimized for European viewers. The flag drops at 10 pm local time Saturday, with the 50-lap race finishing up in the early hours Sunday morning. The sport spent a reported $500M to plan and host the race; tickets average $2,000 to attend (though prices have softened in recent days). 

 

Superstar driver Max Verstappen is a heavy favorite to win the race. The part-Belgian, part-Dutch racer has won a record 17 of 20 contests this season, already having wrapped his third straight world title (read more).  

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

 

> Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani and Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr. both unanimously win MLB's 2023 AL and NL MVP Awards (More) | MLB owners approve Oakland Athletics' move to Las Vegas (More)

> Justin Torres' novel "Blackouts" among five winners of the National Book Awards (More) | Disney announces "Frozen 4" in the works as "Frozen 3" is still yet to be released (More)

> Australia tops South Africa in 2023 Cricket World Cup semifinal, will take on India Sunday for the World Cup title (More)

 
 

Science & Technology

In partnership with Infinity

> United Kingdom becomes first country to approve CRISPR-based gene-editing therapy for treating diseases in patients; drug targets sickle-cell anemia and β-thalassemia (More)

> SpaceX set to make second launch of its massive Starship spacecraft tomorrow morning, with launch window opening at 8 am ET; April test launch failed four minutes into flight (More)

> Study concludes gamma-ray burst detected last year generated radiation with more energy than produced by the Large Hadron Collider, significantly disrupted Earth's ionosphere for roughly 800 seconds (More)

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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 +0.1%, Dow -0.1%, Nasdaq +0.1%) as weekly jobless claims hit three-month high (More

> General Motors becomes first of Detroit Big Three automakers to receive approval from United Auto Workers on a new labor contract (More) | Hyundai becomes first automaker to begin selling new cars on Amazon.com in the second half of 2024 (More)

> US mortgage rates fall for third consecutive week, with average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 7.4%; total application volume rises 2.8% week-over-week, the highest in five weeks (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Israel Defense Forces continue sweep of al-Shifa hospital for second day, take control of Gaza City port (More) | Suspect arrested in death of Jewish protester who died from brain injuries after Nov. 5 altercation at a California protest (More)

> Russia demonstrates loading of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile; Avangard system reportedly flies at 27 times the speed of sound (More) | Ukraine says it has pushed back Russia's naval fleet in the Black Sea (More)

> Man who attacked Paul Pelosi, husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA-11), in their San Francisco home last October convicted of federal charges; sentencing to be scheduled, attacker faces up to life in prison (More)

 

In-Depth

> Synesthesia Paradigm Shift

MIT Press | Richard Cytowic. Some brains perceive blended sensations, like seeing colored words or hearing smells. This "synesthesia"—dismissed as iffy for decades—has found new currency in recent years. (Read)

 

> 'Affordable' Luxury Clothes

Hustle | Staff. The psychology behind the popularity of luxury brand t-shirts, even when those t-shirts—which are mass-produced by machines using common materials—don't meet the definition of "luxury." (Watch)

> Lethal Glass

Biographic | Ben Goldfarb. How a billion birds die each year by flying into windows, and why the effort to mitigate the dangers of glass proves difficult. (Read)

 

> The Epic History of Nutmeg

Gastropod | Cynthia Graber, Nicola Twilley. (Podcast) A prime pumpkin spice latte ingredient, ubiquitous nutmeg was once only grown in one place: the Banda Islands in the Pacific. (Listen)

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Etcetera
 

The 50 most influential people in US fine dining.

 

Walking in America has plummeted.

 

Spanish family discovers living room painting is a million-dollar masterpiece.

 

The Leonids meteor shower peaks this weekend

 

Lightning may jump-start electric eels' mating drive.

 

The strange science of squeezing things really, really hard. (via YouTube)

 

Nine of the world's most adventurous felines.

 

Book club spends 28 years on "Finnegans Wake," remains confused

 

Clickbait: Ultramarathoner gets year ban for catching a ride.

 

Historybook: Suez Canal opens (1869); Actor Danny DeVito born (1944); Former US national security adviser Susan Rice born (1964); Arnold Schwarzenegger sworn in as governor of California (2003); First known case of COVID-19 traced to man who visited Wuhan, China (2019).

"Your struggles develop your strengths."

- Arnold Schwarzenegger

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