12.12.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Dec. 12, and we're covering disciplinary action against US Air Force personnel, a former New York mayor's defamation trial, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Discord Leaks Probe

The US Air Force announced disciplinary measures against 15 personnel yesterday, spanning ranks from staff sergeant to colonel, due to their failure to address questionable intelligence-related activities by accused leaker Jack Teixeira.

 

Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, is accused of leaking a wide range of highly classified military secrets to other Discord users—a gamer communication app—in the largest intelligence leak in years. He pleaded not guilty to willful retention and transmission of classified information in federal court in June. See background on the case here.

 

The report showed a lack of oversight by officials at Teixeira's base and found the individuals intentionally failed to report documented concerns about Teixeira's behavior before the leaks, allegedly allowing him to gather and share the information without detection. The report also showed his immediate superiors were unaware of his online distribution of the classified intelligence. The disciplinary actions range from relieving personnel from their positions, including command positions, to minor penalties.

 

Giuliani Defamation Trial

A federal civil trial began yesterday in Washington, DC, to determine punitive damages former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) must pay two election workers for defamation. Eight jurors were selected for the four-day trial, which could require Giuliani to pay up to $43M to the two women.

 

The lawsuit alleged Giuliani—as attorney for former President Donald Trump—falsely claimed Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss committed ballot fraud, citing surveillance video showing the two moving cases of ballots into an election center. The claims—debunked by Georgia election officials—led to threats of violence against the two, eventually forcing them to relocate temporarily (read details). A US district judge ruled in August that Giuliani was liable for defamation, ordering him to pay $230K in legal fees to the pair. Giuliani maintained yesterday Freeman and Moss had changed votes.

 

In related news, special counsel Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court yesterday to quickly decide whether Trump—who leads Republicans by a margin of 40% in presidential polls—can claim presidential immunity in a separate federal election interference case. Track Trump's four criminal cases here.

 

Navalny Whereabouts Unknown

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who has been serving time in a penal colony east of Moscow on an array of charges, is reportedly missing. The 47-year-old was due to appear via video for a court hearing yesterday but failed to show up. His attorneys said they have been unable to get in touch with him for six days, while two penal colonies where Navalny was believed to be claimed he was not listed as an inmate.

 

Navalny, who has been in prison since January 2021 (see overview), was scheduled to transfer to a higher-security penal colony after being sentenced in August to 19 years in prison on extremism charges. He had already been serving a nearly 12-year prison term for other charges, including fraud. Navalny's disappearance comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin begins his presidential campaign for a fifth term.

 

Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Washington, DC, yesterday to meet with President Joe Biden and leaders from Congress this week as he appeals for more aid. US lawmakers remain at an impasse over a multibillion-dollar national security spending package, which includes roughly $60B in aid for Ukraine. 

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> "Barbie," "Oppenheimer," and "Succession" lead film and television nominees for 2024 Golden Globe Awards (Jan. 7); see full list of nominations (More)

> Shohei Ohtani to defer $680M of his record-breaking $700M contract until 2034, allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers to sign other star players due to a lowered payroll (More)

> Brenda Lee’s "Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree" tops Billboard's Hot 100 for second straight week, more than 65 years after its original release (More) | Members of K-pop group BTS begin mandatory South Korean military service (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with Autonomix

> Jury rules against Google in antitrust case brought by Epic Games, maker of the popular video game Fortnite, finding the Google Play app store and its billing requirements constitute an illegal monopoly (More

> BAE Systems receives first funding award made under last year's CHIPS Act, will be used to increase production of computer chips used in F-15 and F-35 jets (More) | New York to establish a $10B chip research center at the University of Albany (More)

> Paleontologists discover a well-preserved, 6-foot-long pliosaur skull in seaside cliffs along England's Jurassic Coast (More) | Research suggests ancient Egyptians kept baboons in captivity, mummified their remains upon death; the animals were viewed as representatives of the moon god Thoth (More)

From our partners: A potential healthcare revolution. Autonomix is creating a first-in-class diagnostic tool that can fit on the head of a pin. This microchip technology is aimed to read the nervous system and could result in up to 3000X more precision than today’s tech–presenting a $100B market opportunity. Invest in Autonomix before their planned Nasdaq listing.* 

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.4%, Dow +0.4%, Nasdaq +0.2%) as investors look ahead to Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting, which begins today (More

> Macy's shares up 20% after $5.8B buyout offer from Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital Management (More) | Occidental Petroleum to buy Permian oil producer CrownRock for $12B, including debt; deal expected to close in 2024 (More)

> Hasbro to lay off 1,100 people, or 20% of its workforce, amid weak toy sales during holiday season (More) | SmileDirectClub, provider of telehealth dentistry services and once valued at $8.9B, ceases operations after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Report claims Israel used US-supplied white phosphorus munitions in an October attack in southern Lebanon that injured at least nine civilians (More) | What is white phosphorous? (More) | Roughly 1.9 million Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war, UN says; see more war updates (More)

> Texas Supreme Court reverses lower court order, rules against Dallas-area woman who sought an emergency abortion despite new Texas law limiting access to the procedure; Kate Cox leaves the state to seek the procedure elsewhere (More) | See our previous write-up (More)

> Centrist Donald Tusk elected prime minister in Poland, marking the end of eight years of rule from the nationalist-populist Law and Justice party (More

 

In-Depth

> The Power of Rituals

MIT Press Reader | Editors. An interview with psychological anthropologist Bradd Shore on the significance of rituals and their power to influence our lives despite life's many uncontrollable forces. (Read)

 

> Catching Catfish

New Statesman | Stuart McGurk. How one detective confronted a global network of romance scammers, tackling a rising trend of online fraud where a connection is made for the purpose of financial extraction. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Google reveals the top searches in 2023.

 

Sun serpent, yeast snowflakes among 2023's best science images.

 

Meet the 17-year-old who passed California's bar exam

 

Breaking down social media use among teens.

 

Why do people have wisdom teeth

 

Buckingham Palace unveils this year's Christmas card.

 

1956 menu signed by Mao Zedong sells for $275K

 

Missing $800K ring found in Paris hotel vacuum cleaner.

 

Clickbait: Daredevil cat leaps from utility pole. (w/video) 

 

Historybook: US Founding Father John Jay born (1745); First transatlantic radio signal sent by Guglielmo Marconi (1901); Frank Sinatra born (1915); Singer Dionne Warwick born (1940); Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore certifies George W. Bush as president (2000).

"My self-imposed mandate is to be the voice for the voiceless."

- Dionne Warwick

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