12.28.2022

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, Dec. 28, and we're covering the latest decision on a pandemic border policy, a nightmare for (some) air travelers, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Title 42 Remains in Place

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled 5-4 the Biden administration must keep in place pandemic-era border controls while it considers a separate legal challenge to the order. Anticipation over the possible lifting of the policy, known as Title 42, has led to a surge of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border in recent weeks. 

 

The directive, implemented in March 2020 as an emergency health order, allows the quick expulsion of migrants without the opportunity for them to claim asylum, as typically required by law. The Biden administration has sought to rescind the order, while a coalition of Republican states has sought to keep the policy in place amid a historic flow of migrants over the past year.

 

More than 2.3 million encounters were made along the Southwest border during FY2022—about 40% were expelled under Title 42 (see data), primarily single adults. Data released Friday showed the highest-ever number of encounters made during the month of November, at more than 233,000. 

 

The policy will stay in place at least until the court decides whether the states have the ability to challenge a previous ruling that Title 42 violated procedural laws.     

 

Southwest Flightmare

Last weekend's severe cold snap continued to disrupt life across the nation Tuesday, with thousands of flights canceled and the military police needed to enforce a driving ban in snow-covered Buffalo, New York. Officials say the severity of the blizzard that rocked upstate New York stemmed from its unusually long duration.

 

Separately, the Department of Transportation initiated an investigation into Southwest Airlines after the carrier canceled two-thirds of its flights Monday and Tuesday, a number the federal agency described as disproportionate. For comparison, American, Delta, and United canceled under 2% of their flights yesterday (see flight data). Southwest announced it had begun limiting new bookings on flights as many of its baggage terminals filled up with unclaimed luggage.

 

While much of the east is set to thaw under warmer temperatures later this week, the west is preparing for heavy rains as Pacific storms drop up to 4 inches in some areas. 

 

Sentence in Whitmer Plot

The co-ringleader of a pandemic-era plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was sentenced to 16 years in prison yesterday, the longest term doled out to those convicted in the scheme thus far. Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for 39-year-old Adam Fox, who was found guilty on conspiracy charges in August. 

 

Angered over what they perceived as onerous COVID-19 restrictions, Fox led the development of plans to kidnap Whitmer with the intention of trying her for treason in an undisclosed location. The plot reportedly went as far as carrying out training exercises, purchasing some weapons and equipment, and surveilling Whitmer's vacation home. See a timeline here.

 

The broader legal case against the group has faced a number of issues, including accusations that undercover agents unduly influenced the group into acting on their plans. Fox's co-conspirator, Barry Croft Jr., will be sentenced today. 

In partnership with Babbel

Get Language Right in 2023

 

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Over 10 million people are using Babbel and you can too! You'll have a 20-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the program, so what’s there to lose? Plus, they're offering their New Year's sale this week, giving you a hefty 60% off when you sign up today. Andiamo!

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Arizona Cardinals' JJ Watt, one of three NFL players to win Defensive Player of the Year three times, to retire at end of season after a 12-year career (More) | Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic notches the highest-scoring triple-double in NBA history with 60 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists (More)

> Whoopi Goldberg faces renewed backlash over recent Holocaust comments (More) | Reggae artist and DJ Jo Mersa Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, dies at 31 (More)

> "Avatar: The Way Of Water" passes $1B at global box office to become second biggest film of 2022 (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Scientists identify the likely mechanism that leads to cell death in sepsis, a potentially fatal condition where an extreme reaction by the immune system begins to harm the body (More)

> Researchers discover plankton-like microorganism capable of ingesting viruses as a food source (More)

> Brain circuitry responsible for maintaining constant body temperature in mammals identified; study sheds light on innate regulatory processes controlled by the brain (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.4%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq -1.4%) to kick off holiday-shortened trading week (More)

> US holiday season retail sales grew 7.6% over last year per Mastercard data, higher than 7.1% expected growth but lower than 8.5% growth last year (More)

> Tesla shares fall 11% after reports company will continue halt at its Shanghai, China, facility; stock is down over 40% in December (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

> Russian President Vladimir Putin bans Russian oil exports to countries imposing price caps on the commodity (More) | The US and allies previously unveiled rules meant to cap the price of Russian oil at $60 per barrel; see overview (More)

> Serbia puts military on high alert, stations troops near Serbia-Kosovo border, as tensions between Serbs and ethnic Albanians rise in northern Kosovo (More)

> New York City's subway system tops 1 billion passenger trips in 2022, reaching the figure for the first time since 2019; ridership fell to 640 million trips in 2020 (More)

In partnership with Babbel

Year in Review

 

As we look back on 2022, we celebrate our biggest wins of the year, especially the challenges we've overcome. And few challenges are bigger than learning a completely new language. Seemingly impossible at first, but the reward of confidently speaking a new language makes it all worth it.

Next year, make a new language your priority with Babbel. Users of Babbel’s subscription-based language-learning curriculum report that after just three weeks of daily practice, they can have basic conversations in one of the 14 languages Babbel teaches. Even better, every user gets a 20-day money-back guarantee if they’re not satisfied—so it costs nothing to explore. Sign up today for their New Year's sale of 60% off when you join Babbel’s 10M-strong community.

Please support our sponsors!

Etcetera
 

⭐ 1440 Original: Learn about the origins and lore behind 12 US holidays.

The 2022 news cycle in a single chart.

 

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Visualizing the world's 100 biggest companies.

 

A Texas car wash freezes from the inside out. (via YouTube)

 

The world's first 11-bladed propeller plane takes a test flight.

 

The science behind mud volcanoes

 

Social media prevents profound boredom—and that's a bad thing.

 

Clickbait: When you really, really hate that one Christmas song.

 

Historybook: President Woodrow Wilson born (1856); Comic book writer Stan Lee born (1922); British actress Dame Maggie Smith born (1934); Denzel Washington born (1954); Indonesia AirAsia flight crashes, killing 162 (2014).

"Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it."

- Denzel Washington

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