6.21.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, June 21, and we're covering Hunter Biden's guilty plea on federal tax charges, a corruption investigation into the Paris 2024 Olympics, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Hunter Biden Plea Deal

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has agreed to plead guilty in a federal case related to his taxes, according to court documents yesterday. The proposed plea deal includes two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax and a pretrial diversion agreement—an option typically for nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems—for a felony firearm charge.

 

The agreement would likely end a federal investigation that began in 2018, focusing on whether Hunter Biden evaded taxes on money earned from overseas business ventures. Prosecutors claim he received more than $1.5M in taxable income annually in 2017 and 2018 but failed to pay the taxes owed. He is also accused of falsely filling out a federal form during a 2018 gun purchase, while being a drug user at the time.

 

The Justice Department is expected to recommend probation for the tax charges, and the diversion program will likely lead to the dismissal of the gun charge. The deal faced criticism from Republicans, who vowed to continue a separate investigation, led by the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee, into Hunter Biden's business dealings. 

 

Paris Olympics Probe

French financial investigators searched the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics yesterday, reportedly seeking documents in two separate preliminary investigations involving corruption allegations. No charges have been brought in either probe so far. 

 

Investigators with the National Financial Prosecutor's office were said to be looking into possible conflicts of interest and embezzlement at the organization and the local group responsible for Olympic infrastructure, Solideo. The unannounced arrival comes as French organizers look to hold themselves to a higher standard of transparency in light of past Olympic scandals (see list), including by signing the first-ever host city contract with language banning corruption. 

 

The city is set to host the Summer Games next July 26 to Aug. 11 at an estimated cost of nearly $10B. Organizers claim roughly 70% of the facilities to be used during the Games will be permanently repurposed afterward as part of efforts to make the event more sustainable. See more on the economics of the Olympics here

 

Gannett Sues Google

Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the US, filed a federal lawsuit against Google and its parent company, Alphabet, yesterday. Gannett claims the tech giant is violating antitrust laws by holding a monopoly over the digital advertising business and controlling how publishers buy and sell ads online, leading to less revenue for publishers and Google's ad rivals. 

 

Google has led the US digital advertising market for years, though the company appears to be losing its hold on the space due to competition from TikTok and Amazon. In 2022, Google earned $224B from its digital advertising business, making up nearly 80% of its overall revenue. Gannett's complaint alleges Google earned more than $30B in revenue from selling ads to publishers in 2022—six times more than the combined digital advertising revenue of all US news publishers. 

 

Google also faces antitrust challenges from the US Justice Department, which filed a suit in January, and the European Commission, which filed a similar case last week. 

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Taylor Swift announces new Eras Tour dates in 22 cities across Europe, Asia, and Australia in summer 2024 (More)

> Lionel Messi's MLS debut with Inter Miami CF set for July 21 against Mexican club Cruz Azul; Messi announced his departure from Paris Saint-Germain two weeks ago (More)

> Social media influencer Andrew Tate indicted in Romania on rape and human trafficking charges (More) | Actor Jonathan Majors appears in court for first time in domestic assault case; Majors' trial for assault and aggravated harassment begins Aug. 3 (More)

 

Science & Technology

> NASA's Parker Solar Probe arrives at roughly 5 million miles from the sun's surface, reveals data on solar winds; bursts of charged particles are expected to pick up as the sun's magnetic field prepares to flip (More) | Why does the sun's magnetic field reverse roughly every 11 years? (More)

> Scientists genetically engineer transparent squid, allowing the first-ever visual study of the nervous system of a living cephalopod (More)

> Researchers confirm existence of molten rock underneath the Cocos Plate off the coast of Central America; discovery reveals volcanic activity far away from tectonic plate boundaries, where it is normally found (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with LiquidPiston

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.5%, Dow -0.7%, Nasdaq -0.2%) for second consecutive session (More) | FedEx posts third consecutive quarter of revenue declines amid slowing shipping demand (More

> Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to replace CEO and chairman (More)

> Pharma giant Eli Lilly to acquire autoimmune disease drugmaker Dice Therapeutics for $2.4B (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Special Counsel John Durham to testify before Congress today on report assessing FBI's 2016 investigation into Russian election interference (More) | See overview and links to report here (More) | Trial of former President Donald Trump on mishandling classified documents could start as early as Aug. 14, judge rules (More)

> All five passengers on missing tourist submersible en route to view the Titanic wreckage identified, including British billionaire Hamish Harding; sub has a little more than a day's worth of oxygen left as of this morning (More)

> Tropical Storm Bret, the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, expected to arrive in the Caribbean by end of week (More) | See trajectory (More)

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Etcetera
 

Welcome to the first day of summer!

 

NASA captures glowing green dot on Jupiter.

 

A 3,000-year-old hand-sewn boat will be lifted from Croatia's seafloor.

 

Heat waves expose submerged church in Mexico reservoir

 

What one seventh-century European teen might have looked like

 

Michael Jordan's 1997 "Flu Game" shoe sells for $1.3M.

 

Pajama-clad Ryan Reynolds will read you bedtime stories.

 

Watch baboons navigate a bridge to dodge lions.

 

Clickbait: The United States of Saucemerica

 

Historybook: US Constitution is ratified (1788); Benazir Bhutto, first female prime minister of Pakistan, born (1953); Prince William born (1982); Frida Kahlo is first Hispanic woman honored on US postage stamp (2001).

"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?"

- Frida Kahlo

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