9.15.2023

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Good morning. It's Friday, Sept. 15, and we're covering federal charges against the president's son, a sweeping cyberattack against two casino giants, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Hunter Biden Indicted

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, was indicted yesterday on three federal firearm charges relating to a 2018 gun purchase. The move comes after a plea deal, which would have averted a criminal trial, fell apart in July. 

 

Prosecutors allege Hunter Biden lied twice when filling out paperwork when buying a Colt Cobra revolver, checking two boxes asserting he was not an active drug user (he later admitted habitually using crack cocaine during the time period). He faces a third charge for possessing a firearm as an active drug user. The first two counts each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, while the third carries a maximum of five.

 

Under the previous deal, Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax violations while dropping the firearm charges if he avoided trouble for two years. The agreement unraveled under questioning by the presiding judge over the provisions. 

 

The case is separate from allegations by House Republicans that Joe Biden engaged in improper business dealings with his son, which is now the subject of an impeachment probe (see previous write-up).

 

NASA Releases UAP Report

NASA released its first report yesterday on unidentified anomalous phenomena, commonly known as UFOs, finding no evidence that suggests UAPs have an extraterrestrial origin. The 36-page report was conducted by an independent team of experts who relied on unclassified data for their research.

 

The study was initiated by NASA last year to examine how the agency could contribute to the scientific understanding of UAPs, which numerous military and commercial pilots have reported. The report noted many UAPs could be explained by known sources, including balloons, drones, weather balloons, and more, while also emphasizing the lack of data around UAPs and the need for improved data acquisition methods, such as leveraging Earth observation satellites.

 

Additionally, NASA announced the appointment of a director of UAP research. The report comes after allegations by a former intelligence officer of a government program to retrieve and reverse engineer UAP craft, which the Defense Department has denied.

 

See the full report here, including images of alleged UAPs.

 

Hackers Target Casinos

Outages at a number of hotels and casinos owned by hospitality giant MGM Resorts stretched into their fourth day following a ransomware attack earlier this week that forced it to shut down large parts of its internal network. Guests reported hourlong waits at front desks, inoperable slot machines, and more, with issues impacting locations from Las Vegas to New York. 

 

Officials linked the hack to a group known as Scattered Spider, a US- and UK-based collective said to be made up of 19- to 22-year-olds. Reports suggest a fairly nontechnical approach was used to gain system entry—hackers called the company's help desk and imitated an employee found on LinkedIn, requesting assistance in accessing their employee account. 

 

Also yesterday, reports surfaced that the same group successfully hacked Caesars Entertainment, with the company paying $15M in cyber ransom.  

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> NSYNC to release their first new single in 22 years as part of the "Trolls Band Together" soundtrack (More)

> Disney taps Donald Glover to star in new "Star Wars" film, playing the lead character of Lando (More) | "Real Time with Bill Maher" to return Sept. 22 without writers in the midst of the writers strike (More)

> First round of the WNBA playoffs continues; see latest schedule and bracket (More) | ... and see schedule and predictions for NFL Week 2 (More)

From our partners: Can you guess the top 5 travel cards? Holiday travel is coming up, and experts at The Ascent have done the research for you to make the most of your points—so your travel is more rewarding. These 5 travel cards are among the best they've ever seen. Check out the list for free today.

 

Science & Technology

> Pig kidney transplanted into a brain-dead human patient remains fully functioning for two months; doctors end experiment after reaching milestone (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> MDMA found to be safe and effective in treating PTSD in a Phase 3 clinical trial; researchers plan to submit for Food and Drug Administration approval in the coming months (More)

> Researchers identify protein that acts as a key switch in triggering cytokine storms, a runaway inflammatory response that can lead to severe symptoms and death; results may lead to new drugs to halt the condition (More)

 

Business & Markets

> United Auto Workers union formally strikes at targeted locations after failing to reach agreement with the Big Three: General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) (More) | See previous writeup (More)

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.8%, Dow +1.0%, Nasdaq +0.8%); Dow posts best day since Aug. 7 (More)

> Arm trades up 25% on first day as a public company, following initial public offering that valued the chip giant at approximately $56B (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Hurricane Lee, now a Category 1 storm, expected to make landfall between Maine and Nova Scotia, Canada, as a tropical storm tomorrow (More)

> Georgia judge says lawyers Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro will begin trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the state's 2020 election results in October; President Donald Trump, 16 others to be tried separately (More)

> Officials say death toll from severe flooding in eastern Libya could rise as high as 20,000 as search and rescue efforts continue; current toll above 11,000 victims (More) | See footage from the city of Derna (More)

 

In-Depth

> How 9/11 Transformed The New York Times

Air Mail | Adam Nagourney. An excerpt from an upcoming book chronicling the Times' history reveals intimate details from the paper's newsroom on that fateful day. (Read)

 

> Luddite Lessons

99% Invisible | Brian Merchant. (Podcast) A historical look at the 19th-century English textile workers who fought the adoption of automation by destroying the new machines. (Listen)

> Millennials in Mongolia

New York Times | Lauren Jackson. As tourists look for lesser-known destinations to avoid crowds, remote Mongolia is pitching its vast steppes to young travelers. (Read)

 

> You’re (Maybe) a Dream of the Universe

Kurzgesagt | Staff. A fun thought experiment tests three fundamental principles of physics and leads to the mind-bending assertion that we all are brains floating in a dead cosmos. (Watch)

In partnership with Timeline

Science Reveals New Path to Healthy Aging

 

In clinical studies testing skeletal muscle in middle-aged and older adults, a healthy-aging molecule called Urolithin A increased strength and endurance by improving cellular energy–with no change in the participants’ exercise routine. Maintaining muscle function is a pillar of healthy aging. 

 

Mitopure®, the only highly pure Urolithin A supplement, is supported by 15 years of research, 11 clinical studies, and 56 patents. Don’t wait, try today … 1440 readers can get 20% off their first month of Timeline, while supplies last, with code 20for1440.

Please support our sponsors!

Etcetera
 

Painting of Picasso's mistress expected to auction for $120M.

 

The year's best street photography.

 

... and awe-inspiring shots of the UK's Northern Lights.

 

Americans have mixed views on the future of the family.

 

Exploring the physics of saltwater taffy.

 

Visualizing the world's power sources.

 

We've moved into mutant tomato season.

 

Student-built electric vehicle hits 60 mph in under a second (w/video).

 

Clickbait: Yoga class reported as a ritual mass murder.

 

Historybook: Mystery writer Agatha Christie born (1890); Muhammad Ali defeats Leon Spinks to win heavyweight title for the third time (1978); Prince Harry born (1984); Google.com registered as domain name (1997).

"The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life."

- Muhammad Ali

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