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Good morning. It's Monday, Jan. 8, and we're covering one of the country's largest lobby groups in court, a near disaster in the air, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

NRA Trial Begins

Opening arguments begin today in a long-anticipated civil trial against the National Rifle Association, the largest gun-rights lobby in the US. The trial opens after longtime NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, a subject of the lawsuit, resigned Friday citing health reasons. 


New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation into the NRA's leadership in 2019 amid allegations of corruption and financial fraud. The lawsuit alleges LaPierre and others used millions of dollars to fund personal expenses and seeks to bar the defendants from leading New York nonprofits in addition to financial penalties. One defendant agreed to pay $100K and testify against his codefendants as part of a settlement announced Saturday.


The NRA, which was founded after the Civil War as a marksmanship club, was chartered in New York (its headquarters are in Virginia) and has seen its membership decline from 6 million to just over 4 million over five years. Current leaders have committed to reform.


Midair Blowout

Federal aviation officials ordered the grounding of a popular model of Boeing's 737 MAX jets over the weekend, following a harrowing incident on a Friday Alaska Airlines flight during which a chunk of the plane's fuselage blew off midascent. No one was injured during the incident, though depressurization reportedly ripped a child's shirt off. See video here.


The blowout occurred on a late afternoon flight out of Portland, Oregon, minutes after takeoff at about 16,000 feet in the air. The failed section was said to be a panel where MAX 9 models have the option for an emergency exit; Alaska Airlines' seat configuration does not require the exit, so the panel had been "plugged" after production. Officials are currently searching for the lost panel, believed to have landed along Route 217, west of the city. 


Boeing's MAX models were involved in a pair of deadly crashes in 2018-19, which were ultimately linked to an unrelated issue with new autopilot software.


Listen to the pilot's call with air traffic control here.


Spending Deal

Congressional leaders reached an agreement on spending levels for the 2024 fiscal year, striking a roughly $1.7T deal ahead of looming deadlines to fund separate parts of the federal government. Leaders from both parties in the House and Senate approved the compromise, with individual appropriations bills sticking to the topline levels by separate committees. 


The funding level is around $100B more than a deal made between then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) and President Joe Biden. Conservative lawmakers pushed for deeper spending cuts, a sticking point that left negotiations stalled and ultimately drove McCarthy's ouster. A deal would mark a key achievement for his successor, Speaker Mike Johnson (R, LA-4).


If passed, the deal would come roughly four months into the fiscal year; federal agencies have been operating on funds doled out in two previous short-term extensions. 


Two groups of federal agencies are set to run out of funding on separate dates: Jan. 19 and Feb. 2. 

In partnership with SmartAsset

7 Mistakes When Choosing a Financial Advisor


Working with a financial advisor can be a crucial part of healthy retirement planning.


Research suggests that people who work with a financial advisor feel more at ease about their finances and could end up with about 15% more money to spend in retirement.¹ But choosing the wrong one could potentially wreak havoc. Avoid these 7 mistakes when hiring an advisor so you can work to save years of stress. See the list.


With thousands of options available, finding an advisor can seem daunting. That's why SmartAsset developed a no-cost tool to help match you with up to 3 vetted financial advisors serving your area, each legally bound to work in your best interest. It's never too late to work toward a comfortable retirement. Get your financial advisor matches today.


1. "Journal of Retirement Study Winter" (2020). The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please follow the link to see the methodologies employed in the Journal of Retirement study.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> "Oppenheimer," "Poor Things," "Succession," and "The Bear" win top prizes at 81st Golden Globe Awards; see complete list  of winners (More) | "The Last of Us" wins eight awards on Night 1 of the 2023 Creative Arts Emmy Awards (More)

> Cindy Morgan, actress known for roles in "Caddyshack" and "Tron," dies at 69 (More) | Actor Christian Oliver dies at 51 in plane crash along with two daughters and pilot (More) | Mário Zagallo, Brazilian soccer legend, dies at 92 (More)

> Michigan takes on Washington tonight (7:30 pm ET, ESPN) in the College Football Playoff National Championship (More) | South Dakota State wins its second straight FCS national championship (More) | NFL regular season wrapped last night; see playoff picture (More)


Science & Technology

> Small scale study suggests ibogaine, a potent psychedelic found in plants, reduces PTSD in veterans who've sustained traumatic brain injuries by 80% (More)

> Researchers discover fossilized bacteria capable of photosynthesis dating to 1.75 billion years old; find sheds light on the production of oxygen on the early Earth (More)

> Link between cancer immunotherapy treatments and gastrointestinal side effects revealed; gut microbiome found to spur hyperactive immune T cells in the digestive tract (More)


Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> Markets close slightly higher Friday (S&P 500 +0.2%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq +0.1%), but all three indexes end nine-week winning streak (More)

> Radio and podcast giant Audacy, the second-largest radio broadcaster in the US, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy citing long-term decline in ad sales (More)

> Court cancels trial between Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and billionaire Haslam family over accounting practices at the Pilot truck stop chain (More) |

SpaceX sues the National Labor Relations Board, arguing the agency is unconstitutional; follows a board complaint alleging SpaceX illegally fired eight employees (More)

From our partners: Big bonus for a big year. This card is offering a rare $300 welcome bonus. Bonuses like this don't come around that often. That's why thousands are lining up for this card. Learn more now.


Politics & World Affairs

> Israeli defense official says Hamas' military capacity in northern Gaza dismantled as war reached three-month mark yesterday (More) | Two Palestinian journalists killed in Israeli airstrike Sunday, raising total to 70 since start of war, according to press group (More) | See war updates (More

> US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized since Jan. 1 for undisclosed reasons, faces scrutiny for failing to alert the White House for three days; Austin is sixth in presidential line of succession (More)

> Parts of New England see close to a foot of snow amid major winter storm across Northeast over the weekend (More) | See photos (More

In partnership with SmartAsset

Vanguard vs. Fidelity vs. Schwab


Who are you partnered with? See how these popular brokerage firms stack up when it comes to fees and services, so you can decide on the right fit for you. Learn more about who should work with Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab.


Try SmartAsset's no-cost tool to get matched with up to 3 vetted financial advisors serving your area. While your advisor matches may not necessarily be associated with the above institutions, advisors on the platform are rigorously screened. Get your financial advisor matches today.

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Why the US has so many Thai restaurants: gastrodiplomacy.


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Dig uncovers ancient fossils of giant predatory worms


A doctor explains when (and why) to wash your bedsheets. (via Instagram)


Clickbait: A case for sharing your secrets.


Historybook: George Washington delivers first State of the Union address (1790); Elvis Presley born (1935); Fashion designer Carolina Herrera born (1939); Stephen Hawking born (1942); David Bowie born (1947).

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