Your Daily Brief

January 5th, 2023

Good morning, and happy Thursday! Did you know there’s a bone rush in New York City right now? According to Alaskan gold miner-turned-mammoth expert John Reeves, about 50 tons of woolly mammoth tusks valued at $1B were bound for the American Museum of Natural History in 1940 when they were dumped in the East River…and they’re still in there somewhere. Please excuse us while we grab our scuba diving gear!

In Today’s Brief

  • Somalia: Twin car detonations
  • Dave & Busters: 2nd co-founder dies
  • Damar Hamlin: Signs of improvement
  • Salesforce: Laying off 10% of staff

...and more

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Top Tips

Deadlock in the House

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California failed after yesterday’s additional three rounds of voting to become speaker of the House of Representatives.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth votes came one day after the House adjourned without a speaker following three rounds on Tuesday, in which McCarthy fell short of the 218 needed to be elected to the post. In each of yesterday’s votes, 20 Republican representatives voted for candidates other than McCarthy. After failing to elect a speaker for a fourth and fifth time, the House adjourned until 8 PM ET, and then adjourned again until today.

Without a speaker, the House cannot resume business. Members of the 118th Congress can't be officially sworn in, committees can’t be created, and no bills can be considered, among other responsibilities. Voting will resume today to elect a speaker, though it’s unclear how long the process will take.

Combination storm in California

California officials declared a state of emergency and issued evacuation orders as the state was hit by a combination of an atmospheric river and a bomb cyclone yesterday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasted that some coastal mountain regions of the state may see up to 10 inches of rain between yesterday and today. In its forecasts, the NWS called the storm a “multi-hazard event” due to high winds and the “Pineapple Express” atmospheric river, which originated in Hawaii and reached the California coast yesterday. Before the storm hit, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said the state's emergency operations center was at its highest emergency level in preparation for flooding and landslides.

Atmospheric rivers describe long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that can carry moisture across large areas. Yesterday’s combination of a bomb cyclone and atmospheric river came three days after record-breaking rainfall that dropped in similar parts of California over the weekend.

Funeral home owner sentenced

A federal judge sentenced a Colorado funeral home operator to 20 years in prison for dissecting corpses and selling body parts without permission.

46-year-old Megan Hess–who ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in the town of Montrose–allegedly charged families up to $1K for cremations that never occurred and presented them with fake ashes. According to prosecutors, Hess and her mother, Shirley Koch, dissected around 560 corpses between 2010 and 2018 and sold body parts to medical training companies that didn’t know they were fraudulently acquired. Hess and her mother were arrested in 2020, and on top of Hess’ sentence, Koch received a sentence of 15 years.

While the U.S. allows for organs such as hearts and kidneys to be donated, selling them isn’t permitted. However, there are no federal regulations for the sale of body parts such as heads, arms, and spines for use in education, which is what Hess allegedly took part in.

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Quick Tips

Around the Globe

  • Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti is released on bail after being arrested last month for making a post on Instagram expressing solidarity with the first man executed for crimes allegedly committed during the months-long nationwide protests, according to Iran’s ISNA news agency (More)
  • Two car bombs detonated in the Hiraan region of central Somalia, leaving at least 35 people dead; the Islamic militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack (More)
  • World Health Organization warns that China is underrepresenting the impact of Covid-19 in the country due to the nation’s definition of what constitutes a Covid-related death (More)

On the Homefront

  • Head of college admissions bribery scandal “Operation Varsity Blues” Rick Singer is sentenced to three and a half years in prison and ordered to pay over $19M in restitution (More)
  • Retail pharmacies can sell abortion pills in the U.S. provided they complete a certification process and a patient presents a prescription from a certified prescriber, per a statement from the FDA (More
  • Dave & Buster’s co-founder James “Buster” Corley passed away at age 72 reportedly from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Dallas Police Department (More)

Glitz & Games

  • Damar Hamlin’s condition is showing “signs of improvement” while he remains hospitalized in critical condition, according to a statement from the Buffalo Bills released yesterday (More)
  • Bryon Cranston to reprise Walter White role for upcoming Super Bowl commercial from Frito-Lay snack brand PopCorners (More)
  • The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” becomes the most-streamed song in Spotify history with over 3.3B streams, passing Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes in the stock market closed higher yesterday, with the S&P 500 leading gains (Dow +0.40%, Nasdaq +0.69%, S&P 500 +0.75%)
  • Software company Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) said yesterday that it would cut 10% of jobs, execute select real estate exits, and reduce office space to cut costs; the layoffs would amount to more than 7K employees (More)
  • Video-sharing platform Vimeo (NASDAQ: VMEO) announced it is laying off 11% of its workforce, per a company-wide letter from CEO Anjali Sud; the company previously laid off 6% of its workforce in July 2022 (More)

Tips & Tricks

  • Sneak Peek: Watch the first official trailer (and an officially creepy trailer, at that) for the upcoming film Evil Dead Rise from horror master extraordinaire Sam Raimi
  • Bump This: Relax to some acoustic guitar and introspective lyrics with indie singer-songwriter Meg Smith’s single “Cautiously Optimistic” - listen on Apple Music and Spotify
  • Cash Grab: Streaming device company Roku announced that it will begin building its own line of TVs with sizes that range between 24 to 75 inches (it’s about time, guys!)
  • Nerd Out: Read up on how SpaceX already launched its first mission of 2023 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, sending 114 satellites into orbit
  • Jaw Drop: Check out this video of a two-legged fox foraging for food and doing handstands in the middle of someone’s lawn
  • Hot Goss: Fight Club and Glass Onion actor Edward Norton learned that his 12th-great-grandmother is Pocahontas during Tuesday’s season premiere of Finding Your Roots on PBS
  • Life Hack: Our eating habits should focus not only on how much we consume, but also on how long we spend eating during meals - here’s why 20 minutes is the ideal time you should consider devoting to each meal


See a Los Angeles skyline without smog during Covid quarantines.

Embracing life’s imperfections with Japanese Wabi-Sabi philosophy.

1996 prices of video games aren’t too different from today.

…and predictions about 2023 made in the year 1923.

How to cut Michelin star onions (and a couple of other not-so-fancy options).

Meet the new face of Armani Beauty.

From horror revivals to suit-wearing gunslingers, the year’s most anticipated movies.

..and the fate of Ezra Miller in the DC Universe as The Flash.

Looking Back…

On January 5th: Construction begins on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge (1933); Nellie Tayloe Ross becomes the first female governor in the U.S. when she assumes office in Wyoming (1925); Bruce Springsteen releases his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (1973); American actress Diane Keaton is born (1946).

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3 out of 4 U.S. households have contaminants in their tap water that exceed safe limits, according to the Environmental Working Group. Arsenic, PFAS, fluoride, and more are commonly found in the water supply of most Americans and have known harmful effects to our health.

Having clean, healthy water at home is one less thing to worry about.

Save up to $100 today and purify your own water at home with a countertop reverse osmosis filtration system that gives you an unlimited supply of pure, delicious water.

Please support our sponsors!

Question of the day

Would you rather be buried or cremated?



Yesterday's Results

Which animated TV show do you prefer?

The Simpsons (66%)

South Park (34%)

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