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Good morning. It's Wednesday, Jan. 4, and we're covering the battle for the speaker of the House, an update to a sobering NFL injury, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

House Speaker Race

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) fell short in securing enough votes yesterday after multiple rounds of voting to become speaker of the House, leaving the chamber at a standstill. McCarthy is the first speaker nominee since 1923 to fail to win the initial vote. The longest it took the House to elect a speaker was in 1856, lasting two months and consisting of 133 ballots. 


Needing 218 votes to become speaker, McCarthy secured 202 in the third round of voting. The House then adjourned until 12 pm ET today. Democrats unanimously supported incoming Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), while Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-4) won six votes from the GOP in the first round, 19 votes in the second round, and 20 in the third. See play-by-play here.


The House cannot resume business without a speaker. Members of the 118th Congress can't be sworn in, legislation can't be considered, and committee assignments can't be created, among other duties. Voting for the speaker will continue until a candidate secures a majority; it's unclear how long the process will take (see overview). 


Damar Hamlin Update

Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. 


The 24-year-old Hamlin collapsed following a tackle on the Bengals’ Tee Higgins, where he appeared to be hit in the chest by Higgins’ shoulder (see play). Medical personnel administered CPR and an automated external defibrillator for nearly 20 minutes before transferring him to a local hospital. The second-year University of Pittsburgh alum became a starter for the Bills this season. 


It took the NFL one hour before the game was suspended indefinitely. The teams are battling for the AFC No. 1 seed before playoff week starts Jan. 14. NFL officials said yesterday the game would not be resumed this week, providing no further details. 


A community toy drive, organized by Hamlin since 2020, has surged to more than $5.5M in donations, as of this writing.


SBF Pleads Not Guilty

Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts in New York yesterday, including conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering. After extradition from the Bahamas in December, he was released on a $250M bail bond secured against his parents' California home, where he was court-ordered to stay. A trial is set for October. 


The 30-year-old is accused of secretly using billions of FTX deposits to cover losses at his separate investment firm, Alameda Research. Once valued around $32B, the exchange filed for bankruptcy in November after news it was illicitly transferring funds caused a surge in withdrawals it couldn't cover. Two of Bankman-Fried's closest former colleagues, Gary Wang and Caroline Ellison, pleaded guilty in December as they opted to cooperate with prosecutors.


The bail—reportedly one of the largest in history—was secured by Bankman-Fried's parents and two individuals whose identities the judge agreed to redact to remove them from media scrutiny. 

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Actor Jeremy Renner in intensive care unit following surgeries for blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries suffered during snowplow accident Sunday (More)

> Microsoft gets its first labor union in the US as 300 video game workers vote to join the Communications Workers of America; new union will be largest in video game industry (More)

> Frank Galati, Tony Award-winning director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter, dies at 79 (More) | Al Roker to return to "Today" show Friday after two-month absence due to health issues (More)


Science & Technology

> Heavy social media use in children aged 12 to 13 associated with increased brain activity in regions controlling reward processing (More)

> New fossil discovery reveals 120-million-year-old bird species with a dinosaur-like skull and an avian-like body (More)

> Astronomers observe largest volcanic explosion to date on Jupiter's moon Io; activity raises concerns for NASA's Juno probe, scheduled for a close Jupiter flyby in December (More) | More about Io, the solar system's most volcanic body (More)


Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.4%, Dow -0.03%, Nasdaq -0.8%) to kick off first trading day of 2023 (More)

> Sources say SpaceX is raising $750M at $137B valuation; company raised over $2B in 2022 (More)

> Southwest Airlines CEO emails apology to customers whose flights were delayed by three hours or longer, or cancelled, due to late December's travel issues and offers 25,000 frequent flier points (More)

From our partners: Say hello to a one-card wallet. The Ascent's credit card experts personally signed up for this credit card, thanks to its impressive mix of benefits. Up to 5% cash back, a big bonus, no annual fee, the list goes on.


Politics & World Affairs

> Brooklyn subway attack suspect who shot 10 passengers in April 2022 pleads guilty to federal terrorism charges (More)

> US health regulators to allow brick-and-mortar pharmacies to fill prescriptions for the abortion pill mifepristone; stores will require a special certification, option will be prohibited in states which have near-total abortion bans (More)

> Northern California prepares for second straight storm system expected to bring widespread flooding and possible power outages through Thursday; follows weekend storm that killed one and flooded San Francisco (More)

In partnership with InsideTracker 

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The world's wealthiest pets


... and the world's most peaceful countries.


A forecast of the top geopolitical risks of 2023


... and predictions from 1923 on life in 2023. (via Twitter) 


How to strengthen your willpower


Rolling Stone's 200 greatest singers of all time.


Scientists conclude the tail cannot, in fact, wag the dog.


Masters invitation goes to the wrong Scott Stallings.


Clickbait: When burglars call the police for help.


Historybook: Boxer Floyd Patterson born (1935); Biographer and journalist Doris Kearns Goodwin born (1943); Luna 1 is first spacecraft to reach vicinity of the moon (1959); Poet TS Eliot dies (1965); Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, opens in Dubai (2010). 

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

- TS Eliot

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