Your Daily Brief

January 24th, 2023

Good morning, and happy Tuesday! If you’ve ever read any fiction by the author Jules Verne, you’re likely familiar with giant squids…but could you imagine coming across one in real life? That’s exactly what happened to two divers off the coast of Japan, and they captured the encounter on video. You’ve got to check out the footage to see for yourself!

In Today’s Brief

  • China: Covid cases top 1B
  • Australian Open: Djokovic in quarterfinals
  • Citadel: Posts record hedge fund profit
  • M&M’s: Retiring long-time mascots

...and more

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Top Tips

Alex Murdaugh trial kicks off

The murder trial of former South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh began yesterday with jury selection proceedings.

On June 7, 2021, Murdaugh’s wife and his youngest son were found shot on the family’s hunting property in Colleton County. After a 13-month investigation, state agents charged Murdaugh with two counts of murder, and a judge has set aside three weeks for the trial. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty but said they will ask for life without parole if Murdaugh is convicted. The minimum sentence is 30 years.

The murder charges are two of over 90 different criminal counts Murdaugh faces. He also is on trial on two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Other state charges against him include stealing funds from clients, diverting a wrongful death settlement for the family’s maid from her family to himself, running a drug ring, tax evasion, and more.

Machu Picchu closes

Peru has closed the tourist site Machu Picchu indefinitely amid ongoing protests in the country against President Dina Boluarte.

Train service to and from the site had been closed since last Thursday due to damage to the tracks leading back to the nearby city of Cusco. Peru’s Culture Ministry said it closed Machu Picchu as well as the Inca Trail leading up to it “to protect the safety of tourists and the population in general.” According to Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero, there were 418 visitors at the site who were left without a way to leave when it was closed, though all visitors were later safely evacuated on trains and buses.

The closing of the 15th-century Incan citadel comes amid protests that began last month after then-President Pedro Castillo was impeached and imprisoned for attempting to dissolve Congress. Since then, protestors have demanded his release and called for better living conditions. At least 55 individuals have lost their lives in the ensuing violence.

A breaking point for Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the country is on the brink of not being able to function as a society due to its falling birth rate and must act “now or never” to address the issue.

Official estimates show that Japan saw a record low number of births in 2021, dropping below 800K for the first time. The moment came eight years earlier than Japan’s government had expected. In his policy speech yesterday, Kishida said that a new Children and Families government agency to oversee the issue would be set up in April, and that he would submit plans to double the budget for child-related policies by June.

As of January 1st, Japan's population was estimated at 124.77M. 29% of the country is aged 65 years old or over, while 11.6% were aged 0-14. According to World Bank data, Japan has the world's second-highest proportion of people aged 65 and over, behind Monaco.

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Quick Tips

Around the Globe

  • Brazil and Argentina are exploring developing a common currency as part of “greater economic integration” between the two countries, per a joint article from Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentinian leader Alberto Fernandez (More)
  • Total Covid cases in China have topped 1B since lockdown measures were lifted last year and the death toll reportedly surpassed 12.6K in the week before the Lunar New Year, per a statement from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (More)
  • Pakistan suffered a nationwide power outage due to a technical fault that left nearly 220M people without electricity yesterday beginning around 7:30 AM local time (More)

On the Homefront

  • Two related shootings near Half Moon Bay in Northern California left at least seven people dead; a suspect identified as 67-year-old Chunli Zhao was in police custody as of last night, per local authorities (More)
  • Four members of the Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy in connection to events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 (More)
  • Shooting at a charter school in Des Moines, Iowa, leaves two students dead and a school employee in critical condition (More)

Glitz & Games

  • Netflix purchases global rights to ‘Fair Play’ for $20M after the film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (More)
  • Novak Djokovic advances to quarterfinals of the Australian Open after defeating Alex de Minaur in straight sets; the world No. 5-ranked Djokovic will face Andrey Rublev for a spot in the semifinals (More)
  • Maya Rudolph will become the spokesperson for M&M’s and will replace the company’s cast of “spokescandies” effective immediately, per an announcement from the brand on Twitter (More)

Business & Markets

  • Stocks rose ahead of several companies’ earnings reports this week, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading gains for the second straight day (Dow +0.76%, Nasdaq +2.01%, S&P 500 +1.19%)
  • Hedge fund Citadel saw a record $16B in profit last year, reporting a 38.1% return on its main hedge fund; the Miami-based firm’s 2022 gains mark the largest-ever annual return for a hedge fund (More)
  • Spotify will cut 6% of its staff based on the music streaming company’s latest earnings report; the figure amounts to roughly 600 employees (More)

Tips & Tricks

  • Feel Good: Meet the man who was given a bag full of bills instead of the sausage McMuffin he ordered from McDonald’s…and went back to return it because he felt it was the right thing to do (be honest…what would you do in that situation?)
  • Sneak Peek: The new trailer for upcoming fantasy film Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves just dropped and features some new faces, including a very portly dragon and a silk-robed Hugh Grant (this guy is in everything these days, geez)
  • Bump This: Fall Out Boy throws another hat in the ring for the Great Emo Comeback with their new single “Love From The Other Side” - listen on Apple Music and Spotify
  • Nerd Out: Learn about the atmospheric conditions that led to the formation of last week’s flying saucer-like cloud above Turkey
  • Go Deep: Read up on recent studies that show how the Earth’s inner core may be starting to move in reverse and what it means for the future of the planet
  • Hot Goss: Netflix’s Blonde biopic of Marilyn Monroe starring Ana de Armas leads this year’s Razzies nominations, including worst picture, worst director, and worst screenplay (yikes)
  • Life Hack: Remaining calm in stressful day-to-day situations is the key to maintaining a balanced mental state - here are five ways to be calm and how you can use music, art, and meditation to your advantage


An all-time ranking of the 50 best Disney movies.

Inspiring architecture of modern Japan’s minimalist homes.

The weirdly complex science of snow removal.

Drone footage of a bull moose shedding both antlers at once.

A sunrise over a creek at Zion National Park.

…and fresh snowfall blanketing the Mesa Arch.

Debunking the myth that Twinkies never expire.

Mapping out the world’s use of dating apps.

Looking Back…

On January 24th: Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh computer (1984); the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is officially established (2003); the film adaptation of John Steinback’s The Grapes of Wrath has its world premiere (1940); American writer Edith Wharton is born (1862).

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Question of the Day

Which historic site would you rather visit?

Machu Picchu in Peru

Petra in Jordan

Yesterday's Results

Would you rather spend a day surfing or skydiving?

Surfing (69%)

Skydiving (31%)

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