Your Daily Brief

December 1, 2023

Good morning, happy Friday and welcome to December! If you are thinking about getting down on one knee and popping the question in the not-so-distant future, keep reading. If you are a cat lover, even better yet. Felix, a feline insurance company, is running a contest: If you incorporate a cat into your engagement proposal, you can win $5K toward the cost of the ring. Interested? Go sign up here. Have a great weekend!

In Today’s Brief

  • TikTok: Montana ban blocked
  • Taiwan: Doubts Chinese invasion
  • Mark Cuban: Will never run
  • Haslams: Deny bribe claims

... and more

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Israel-Hamas truce ends

Israel resumed its military operation against Hamas in Gaza early this morning, ending a seven-day truce.

  • Fighting restarts: The temporary ceasefire ended at 7 a.m. local time (midnight on the East Coast). Israel intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza about an hour before the truce window ended; it accused Hamas of violating the truce. Hamas also took responsibility for a bus stop shooting in Jerusalem that killed three and injured seven. The U.S., Egypt and Qatar worked to extend the pause a third time, but to no avail. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated a promise to eliminate Hamas following the Jerusalem attack.
  • Final counts: Hamas released 105 hostages during the period, mostly women and children and including two Americans. Israel turned over about 230 Palestinian prisoners. There are believed to be about 140 hostages left in Gaza, eight of which are believed to be American. The New York Times reported Israel had knowledge of Hamas’ war-starting Oct. 7 attack plan over a year ago, but its intelligence community doubted the militant group was capable of executing the plot.
  • U.S. appeal: Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday he told Netanyahu that Israel must take further efforts to protect civilians once its military campaign resumes. Blinken requested designated safe zones in south and central Gaza. His comments come after President Joe Biden reportedly told Netanyahu he wants Israel to change its approach when it moves into the southern part of the enclave.

Santos expulsion vote on tap

New York Rep. George Santos’ scandal-plagued tenure may be entering its final hours.

  • The vote: The House will decide whether to expel Santos today after delaying a vote yesterday. Santos faces federal charges and was the subject of a scathing House Ethics Committee report. It is believed the House has enough votes to clear the two-thirds threshold to remove Santos. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said he has reservations about expelling Santos before a conviction, but he urged the GOP conference to vote its conscience.
  • Long road: Santos, the first openly LGBT Republican elected to Congress, has been caught in a multitudes of lies about his background and past legal issues. He was charged with 23 counts of fraud related to campaign activities and other malfeasance. Santos has refused to resign.
  • If expelled: Santos said he expects to be removed and made vague threats to expose other House members if expelled. Santos would be the 21st man removed from Congress and the first since Ohio Rep. James Traficant in 2002 after a racketeering conviction. Seventeen of the previous 20 expelled lawmakers were Confederates removed during the Civil War.

Wave of cyberattacks nationwide

Various cyberattacks have impacted American businesses, hospitals and utilities in recent days.

  • Healthcare impact: Capital Health hospitals and facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were hit with ransomware attacks this week, causing system limitations. Those attacks came after Ardent Health Services dealt with ransomware attacks, forcing emergency room patients to be diverted at its locations over the Thanksgiving holiday. Ransomware hackers have consistently targeted healthcare operators since the 2020 pandemic.
  • Iran-tied hack: Aliquippa, Pennsylvania’s municipal water authority had a booster station hacked earlier this week by a cyber group with ties to Iran. There was no risk to drinking water or water supply. But the hackers were target software with ties to Israel amid its war with Gaza, and they have attacked water treatment stations in Israel as well.
  • Staples offline: A cyberattack temporarily disabled online ordering for Staples yesterday. The office retail chain said it took proactive steps to mitigate risk and protect customer data. Normal functionality was expected to resume quickly and brick-and-mortar locations were not impacted.
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U.S. News

  • Montana's attempt to ban TikTok in the state was blocked by a judge on First Amendent grounds. Gov. Greg Gianforte had signed a law prohibiting app stores from carrying it effective Jan. 1, saying the popular social media platform is a privacy and safety risk given its Chinese ownership (More)
  • A New York judge reinstated a gag order on former President Donald Trump in his civil business fraud trial. The order was briefly lifted last week; Trump is set to testify again later this month (More)
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul performed the Heimlich maneuver on Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst during a Senate Republican lunch. Ernst's office said she is OK after the choking scare (More)

World News

  • Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she believes China has too many internal challenges to consider launching an invasion. Tsai is term-limited, but her pro-democracy party is favored to hold the presidency in next year’s elections (More)
  • Russia’s Supreme Court outlawed LGBTQ activism in the country, calling it “extremist.” The United Nations called for the law to be reversed and Amnesty International condemned the ruling (More)
  • A U.S. biotechnology and genetic engineering company has launched a partnership with a wildlife foundation in Mauritius to attempt to revive the dodo bird, which has been extinct since 1681. The Dallas-based Colossal Biosciences also hopes to de-extinct the woolly mammoth (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban said he never plans to run for elected office. His decision to sell a majority share of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and leave ABC's Shark Tank sparked speculation about a presidential or Senate bid (More)
  • Shane MacGowan, the frontman of punk rock group The Pogues, died yesterday at 65. He had recently been hospitalized with encephalitis (More)
  • Buffalo Bills linebacker Von Miller was arrested and charged with assaulting a pregnant woman in Dallas. The charge is a third-degree felony; Miller posted a $5K bond and was released (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes had a mixed close yesterday. The Dow had a big day, jumping almost 1.5%, while the S&P 500 also closed higher and the Nasdaq closed lower (Dow +1.47%, Nasdaq -0.23%, S&P 500 +0.38%).
  • The billionaire Haslam family denied bribery allegations by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, calling them a "wild invention." BH claimed in a lawsuit the family tried to pay Pilot truck stop chain executives to inflate profits as BH works to acquire the final 20% of the company. (More)
  • X CEO Linda Yaccarino said the platform formerly known as Twitter “allows people to make their own decisions," attempting to prevent a larger advertiser exodus a day after owner Elon Musk told ad buyers to “go f–k yourself." Several major companies have halted ad spend after Musk sent a post construed as antisemitic, which he has since apologized for (More)

Tips & Tricks

  • Go Green: If you can choose, pay with your credit card rather than bitcoin. A researcher in the Netherlands says a single transaction involving the cryptocurrency uses enough water to fill a backyard swimming pool – or 6M times more than a typical swipe of your card. The water figure comes from what it takes to cool and power bitcoin computers worldwide.
  • Helping Hand: Dogs are not just man’s best friend; they may hold the keys to helping human beings live longer. Scientists are turning to canines as they study the aging process, finding them more genetically similar to people than typical study subjects like mice. Both creatures also tend to get similar afflictions and illnesses, like cancer, while sharing the same habitats and exposures.
  • Sneak Peek: Peacock has released a trailer for its upcoming Ted series. The series will serve as a prequel to the movies and feature the profane anthropomorphized teddy bear, voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, as a high school student in the 1990s.
  • No Noise: It is hard to find a quiet place these days. But they do exist, and a nonprofit is fighting to keep them tranquil. Quiet Parks International travels the globe to find and protect quiet spots in nature. The criteria: A place must be quiet for 15 consecutive minutes. The group estimates 90% of the world’s children will never experience natural quiet.
  • Unconventional Wisdom: You buy something, but it is not what you want or need for whatever reason. So you return it, get your money back and … hold onto it? More retailers are instituting a keep-it policy as the holiday season approaches. They may not publicize it for obvious reasons, but the logic is sound: The cost to reclaim a return is often greater than the item’s actual value.
  • Hidden Cost: Energy and food costs and mortgage rates tend to get most headlines related to the state of the economy for the average American. But a less-discussed factor has really begun to hit people in their wallet. Car and home insurance costs have also skyrocketed over the last few years. Analysts estimate those insurances will cost consumers at least $74B.
  • Deep Dive: The U.S. relationship with the Philippines faltered as former president Rodrigo Duterte sought closer ties with China and Russia. So when Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected the country’s new president, President Biden was the first world leader to make a congratulatory call – the start of an American charm offensive to regain close ties with a former colony.

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William Shatner thinks climate change will kill us all.

… and is Gwyneth Paltrow just playing us with Goop?

The Academy Awards will start an hour early next year.

Lead pipes will be gone by 2034, according to the EPA.

… while the Biden Administration battles a WFH issue.

Honeymoons, babymoons and now only child-moons.

How a Brazilian couple grew a lush forest on their own.

Maine shooting victims will receive free college tuition.

Looking Ahead …

The final four-team College Football Playoff will be selected this weekend, and it could be the most controversial field ever. Here is a rundown of what you need to know (and a look at all the potential scenarios):

  • Georgia, Michigan, Washington and Florida State enter the weekend in playoff positions Nos. 1-4, in that order. All four teams are 12-0 and will play in their respective conference championship games.
  • Even if FSU wins the ACC, will the fact star quarterback Jordan Travis suffered a season-ending injury be held against the Seminoles?
  • No. 5 Oregon, No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Alabama are each 11-1 entering their league title games. Oregon will look to avenge its loss to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Texas handed Alabama its only loss, but could the Crimson Tide jump over the Longhorns if they upset Georgia for the SEC crown, even if Texas wins the Big 12?
  • No. 6 Ohio State (11-1) is the only top-8 team that will not play this weekend. Most analysts believe the Buckeyes are all but eliminated after losing to Michigan. But what happens if complete chaos breaks out this weekend?
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