1.5.2023

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Good morning. It's Thursday, Jan. 5, and we're covering a congressional impasse, sentencing in a major college admissions scandal, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

House Speaker Tussle (Cont.)

Efforts to select a new speaker of the House head into their third day today after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-23) failed to secure the necessary support in a series of chamber votes yesterday. McCarthy, previously the GOP minority leader, entered as the most likely candidate to take the gavel after Republicans won a slim majority in November.

 

Needing 218 votes, McCarthy garnered 203, 203, and 202 votes Tuesday in three successive failed attempts. Despite a public appeal for support from former President Donald Trump, McCarthy remained at 201 votes after the sixth round yesterday.

 

Dissenting Republicans switched from backing Rep. Jim Jordan (R, OH-4) to Rep. Byron Donalds (R, FL-19), a 44-year-old conservative entering his second term. Democrats unanimously supported incoming minority leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D, NY-8). 

 

The minimum number of votes required to win may be lower than 218 if some members abstain or vote "present," though too many GOP abstentions may potentially allow Jeffries to be named speaker. See how the process works here.

 

Admissions Scammer Sentenced

William "Rick" Singer, the architect of a broad decadelong college admissions scam, was sentenced yesterday to 3.5 years in prison and three years of supervised release. Prosecutors had requested a six-year sentence. 

 

Known as "Operation Varsity Blues" for the scheme's reliance on false college student-athlete applications, the case gained notoriety for the involvement of celebrities Lori Loughlin of "Full House" and Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives." As the owner of a college counseling business, Singer accepted six-figure payments through a charity to help wealthy parents fraudulently admit their children into prestigious universities—including Yale, Stanford, and UCLA—by bribing coaches or helping students cheat on standardized tests. Read how the scam worked here

 

After being caught in a 2018 sting operation, Singer pleaded guilty to four felonies, including obstruction of justice and racketeering. His cooperation with investigators led to the conviction of dozens of parents, coaches, and administrators. See details on the case here.

 

 

Gadgets Debut in Vegas

One of the world's largest electronics and technology conferences returns to Las Vegas today, with 100,000 people expected to attend the four-day 2023 Consumer Electronics Show. The annual show-and-tell event, which began in 1967, allows companies to preview their latest innovations while setting the stage for the year's biggest trends in tech. 

 

About 3,000 companies, from startups to major brands, including Sony, Apple, and Samsung, are expected to exhibit their products at CES. This year's lineup includes a focus on next-generation TVs and laptops, electric vehicles, smart home appliances, and wearables to monitor health and wellness. See the latest news from the event here.

 

Among the unconventional gadgets are a handheld device from L'Oréal that uses augmented reality to draw the perfect eyebrow and an at-home hands-free toilet device to monitor metabolic and reproductive health.  

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Mizzen+Main

> Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin showing "signs of improvement" but still in critical condition two days after collapsing during game (More) | Hamlin's toy drive fundraiser tops $6M in donations (More)

> Stars of Oscar-winning 1968 "Romeo and Juliet" sue Paramount for $500M for sexual abuse over the film's nude scene that was shot when they were teenagers (More)

> US soccer star Gio Reyna's parents were source of revelation of domestic violence allegations against team coach Gregg Berhalter (More) | Anthony Hudson tapped as interim coach amid ongoing investigation into the allegations (More)

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Science & Technology

> Microsoft prepares to launch a version of its Bing search engine, powered by the recently released ChatGPT platform, in bid to better compete with Google (More) | ChatGPT explained (More) | Play with ChatGPT (More)

> CRISPR-based cell therapy eliminates glioblastoma brain tumors, provides long-term protection against recurrence in mice studies (More)

> Scientists develop new refrigeration technology that uses the flow of charged particles through a solid material, causing a phase change which can absorb (or release) heat (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.8%, Dow +0.4%, Nasdaq +0.7%) to snap two-session losing streak (More

> Meta (Facebook) fined 390M euros by European Union regulators for delivering ads based on online activities (More) | Coinbase agrees to $100M settlement with New York regulators for failing to build and maintain certain compliance programs (More)

> Salesforce to reduce staff by 10%, cutting roughly 7,000 jobs (More) | General Motors sold 2.3 million vehicles in the US in 2022, reclaiming top American vehicle seller; GM had been the leader since 1931 before falling behind Toyota in 2021 (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Russian military says unauthorized use of cellphones by Russian soldiers led to the Ukrainian rocket attack where they were stationed over the weekend, killing at least 89 Russian soldiers (More)

> The US Embassy in Cuba resumes visa services five years after it was closed due to reports of unexplained health incidents among embassy employees, which became known as "Havana Syndrome" (More)

> Myanmar's ruling military leader pardons more than 7,000 prisoners during a ceremony marking 75 years of independence from Britain; the military took over in February 2021 after ousting and imprisoning former leader Aung San Suu Kyi (More)

 

In-Depth

> Inside Damar Hamlin's Life

Go Long | Tyler Dunne. (2021) A profile of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, from his upbringing in Pennsylvania's McKees Rocks and losing his friends to crime, to a mystery injury at University of Pittsburgh and his drive to inspire others. (Read)

 

> Junkyard of Classic Cars 

Texas Highways | Ian Dille. Near Route 66 in the Panhandle, hundreds of old vehicles sit on 65 acres of shrubland, paying tribute to the heyday of the hot rod. This is the story of Bob Owens and his lifetime of fulfilling a passion. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Debunking common myths about food.

 

Princeton student builds app to combat AI-based plagiarism.

 

The typo that scandalized a continent.

 

A guide to tipping across the globe.

 

Photographer captures the quiet beauty of snow.

 

Fifty films turning 50 this year.

 

Five surprising things your GPS can do.

 

An 18-year-old pilot makes an emergency landing on a two-lane highway.

 

Clickbait: You really are a star, Star.

 

Historybook: Actress Jane Wyman born (1917); Dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey born (1931); Construction of Golden Gate Bridge begins (1933); Scientist and inventor George Washington Carver dies (1943); Singer and congressman Sonny Bono dies in skiing accident (1998).

"The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off—it's with you all the time."

- Alvin Ailey

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