7.27.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Thursday, July 27, and we're covering a hangup in a high-profile plea deal, extraordinary claims of extraterrestrials, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Biden Plea Goes Awry

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax crimes yesterday after an original plea deal with prosecutors fell apart when a judge raised concerns about the details. The case is now on hold to give more time to the parties to submit additional information and allow the judge to review a revised deal.

 

Hunter Biden, 53, was expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay federal income taxes on more than $1.5M in income in 2017 and 2018. He was also expected to enter into an agreement to avoid prison for a felony firearm charge for falsely filling out a federal form during a 2018 gun purchase while being a drug user at the time. See our previous write-up here.

 

Prosecutors said their probe into Hunter Biden's business dealings remains ongoing, and he could face additional charges. The GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee's own investigation also continues. 

 

Separately, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) is floating an impeachment inquiry into President Biden over unverified claims of possible financial misconduct. 

 

UFO Whistleblower Testifies

A former US Air Force intelligence officer appeared before House lawmakers yesterday, alleging federal officials have concealed evidence of UFOs from the public for decades. The hearing is the latest in the increasingly public conversation about unidentified aerial phenomena—a formal term covering both terrestrial and, in principle, extraterrestrial craft. 

 

Retired Maj. David Grusch, who went public in June, served in various capacities tracking UAP events for various federal agencies from 2019-22. The most explosive of his claims—all based on secondhand reports collected during his tenure—is that the US government has retrieved numerous nonhuman craft and is in a race to reverse-engineer the technology before other nations. At least one former colleague has publicly backed Grusch's statements. 

 

Also appearing was former Navy commander David Fravor, whose 2004 encounter with a UAP made waves after being declassified three years ago.  

 

Watch highlights from the hearing here.

 

Crane Collapse in New York City

Eleven people were injured, including two firefighters, when the engine of a crane operating in Midtown Manhattan caught fire and collapsed early Wednesday morning, sending 16 tons of concrete and debris sprawling onto 10th Avenue. The surrounding area was closed for several hours as first responders extinguished the blaze, whose preliminary cause is believed to be a hydraulic fluid leak.

 

Around 7:30 am local time, a fire was reported at the construction site at 550 10th Ave., a planned 54-story mixed-use building. The crane operator managed to reach safety after attempting to put out the engine fire. Not long after, a video appears to show the top segment of the crane breaking and crashing into a neighboring apartment building (see video; warning, language).

 

Lomma, the parent company responsible for operation, has been involved in at least two other high-profile accidents over the last two decades, including a 2008 incident where two workers were killed. 

 

Spoiler alert: The US Women's World Cup results from last night are below. If you haven't seen and don't want to know the results yet, skip our Sports, Entertainment, and Culture section!

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Kevin Spacey found not guilty in London sexual assault criminal trial; Spacey was facing nine charges related to sexual assault allegations brought by four men (More)

> Sinéad O'Connor, famed Irish singer-songwriter known for "Nothing Compares 2 U," dies at 56 (More) | Entertainment world reacts to O'Connor's death (More)

> US ties Netherlands 1-1 in second World Cup group match, drawing even on a minute 62 header from Lindsey Horan (More) | See latest group standings and schedule (More)

 

Science & Technology

> New technique known as HADAR—heat-assisted detection and ranging—allows real-time imaging of the surrounding environment during nighttime, foggy conditions, and more, with daytime-like clarity (More)

> Scientists discover molecular mechanism allowing salamanders to regenerate body parts; findings may inform future rapid wound-healing treatments for humans (More)

> Analysis of DNA recovered from Machu Picchu reveals where the city's laborers originated from throughout the Inca Empire, suggesting the site hosted a highly diverse community (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.02%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq -0.1%); Dow up for 13th consecutive session, first time since 1987 (More) | Meta (Facebook) shares up in after-hours trading after beating expectations with double-digit revenue growth for the first quarter since 2021 (More

> The Federal Reserve yesterday approved a 0.25% increase in interest rates; the increase brings up the Fed's benchmark federal funds rate to a range of 5.25%-5.5%, the highest in 22 years (More)

> General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and other automakers partner to build network of electric vehicle chargers across America (More) | Volkswagen takes 5% stake in Chinese electric vehicle maker XPeng for $700M (More)

From our partners: We aren't given many 21-month grace periods. Oil checks, doctor appointments, Tax Day ... time speeds by between them. But The Ascent found a credit card offering 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months—among the longest we've seen to avoid interest charges. Learn more about this card today.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Rudy Giuliani concedes he falsely accused two Georgia election workers of mishandling ballots in case over alleged interference in the 2020 election (More) | Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) briefly escorted away from news conference after abruptly falling silent midsentence (More

> Presidential guards in Niger detain President Mohamed Bazoum, raising concerns about an attempted coup in the West African nation (More) | Israel's Supreme Court to review challenges to recently enacted law limiting its power (More

> At least six people dead after Typhoon Doksuri strikes northern Philippines, displacing thousands of others, flooding villages, and setting off landslides (More) | See photos of the aftermath (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Psychopathic Path to Success 

Knowable | David Adam. New research is reframing psychopathic tendencies, suggesting their presence in all of us to some extent while highlighting "successful psychopaths" who avoid trouble and potentially benefit from such traits. (Read)

 

> Searching for a Serial Killer

The Walrus | Eliza Robertson. An excerpt from a true crime story that pieces together the 1992 murder of 29-year-old Krystal Senyk, reopening a decades-old cold case on suspected killer Ronald Bax and his mysterious disappearance. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Parents are spending thousands of dollars to prepare daughters for sorority rush.

 

Take a sneak peek at Starbucks' new fall menu.

 

The Ohio State Fair introduces dessert deviled eggs

 

Alaska mayor proposes flying its homeless population south for the winter.

 

Time’s list of the 100 best movies in the last century.

 

Tens of thousands of cyclists are riding across Iowa.

 

Rotating Sandwiches wins the 2023 Tiny Awards.

 

A town in France tries a squiggly technique to slow drivers.

 

Clickbait: The return of King Peanut.

 

Historybook: US Department of State is established (1789); Figure skating legend Peggy Fleming born (1948); House brings impeachment charges against President Richard Nixon (1974); NBA player Reggie Lewis collapses and dies at practice (1993); Bob Hope dies (2003).

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