Biden's Approval Nosedive

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Good morning and happy Tuesday. You have undoubtedly heard the term "military-grade" before. What exactly does it mean? It is typically nothing more than a clever marketing plot. There are established Department of Defense protocols and standards for government equipment, but manufacturers are not required to meet them. And that may not be a bad thing, given the Pentagon tends to pick the cheapest option for most contracts. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • Congress: CR on Senate floor today

  • Gaza: Hamas hostage video released

  • Iowa: Trump rolls to lopsided victory

  • Uber: Shutting down Drizly service

  • NFL: Divisional round matchups set

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Biden's bad polling

President Joe Biden is dealing with some crooked numbers two weeks into his re-election year.

  • The poll: Biden has the lowest presidential approval rating in over a decade, according to a new ABC/Ipsos poll. Biden is currently at 58% disapproval and 33% approval, the worst since George W. Bush in 2006-08. Only 57% of lean Democratic voters would be satisfied with him as the party's nominee, according to the poll.

  • Comparison game: Former President Donald Trump, Biden's anticipated Republican general election opponent, had better numbers at this juncture in 2020. Trump was at 53% disapprove and 41% approve. Biden had a 52% approval rating in 2021, but has not had a net approval rating in over two years.

  • Big picture: Trump's current numbers are similar; he had a 56% disapproval rating in the survey and a 35% approval rating. So if it is Biden and Trump in November, it will be a contest of unpopular candidates.

2) A dozen zeroes

The world may see its first trillionaire within a decade, according to Oxfam International.

  • The report: The anti-poverty group made the projection in its annual assessment of global inequalities. Oxfam timed the report’s publication with the World Economic Forum's annual conference in Davos, Switzerland.

  • For perspective: A trillionaire’s personal wealth would be roughly the same value as all of Saudi Arabia. And there are only six companies in the world currently with a market cap of at least $1T.

  • Covid consequence: Oxfam said the pandemic “supercharged” global inequalities. The world’s richest people — including Tesla’s Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos — have seen their wealth more than double since 2020, according to the report.

3) Iran in the fray

Iran has exhibited direct involvement in the Middle East recently amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

  • In Yemen: Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is reportedly on the ground and directly assisting the Houthi rebels' attacks on commercial and military ships in the Red Sea. The IRGC is advising the militants and providing intelligence and training. A Houthi missle hit a U.S.-owned shipping vessel yesterday. They also fired on a U.S. warship following U.S. and United Kingdom airstrikes. 

  • In Iraq: The Iranians claimed airstrikes on supposed Israeli facilities and other targets in Iraq, hitting close to (but not targeting) the U.S. Consulate in Erbil. Iran also claimed attacks on the Islamic State in Syria. An Israeli airstrike in Syria killed a senior Iranian military leader last month.

  • Big picture: Iran's physical presence in Yemen could complicate U.S. and allied plans for any further assaults on the Houthis. But it could also be a sign the Iranians want to reel in their regional proxies to avoid further escalation.

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Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will place a continuing resolution spending bill on the floor today. Congress must pass a CR by the end of the week to avoid a partial shutdown (More)

  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin returned home yesterday after being in the hospital for over three weeks. He will work from home after initially concealing prostate cancer surgery and a urinary tract infection (More)

  • The White House was targeted by a hoax 911 call yesterday. Emergency responders were dispatched for a non-existent fire amid a wave of high-profile swatting incidents nationwide (More)

World News

  • Hamas released a video appearing to show two dead Israeli hostages, saying they were killed in IDF airstrikes on Gaza. Israel denied the claim; there are about 130 hostages still captive in the enclave (More)

  • Ukraine said it shot down two Russian command planes yesterday over the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainians said they destroyed a long-range detection spy plane that reportedly cost $330M to build (More)

  • German farmers clogged Berlin to protest tax hikes. Over 10K people and 5K tractors poured into the city, continuing a wave of demonstrations nationwide (More)

Campaign News

  • Former President Trump posted a commanding victory in the Iowa Caucus as expected. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis edged former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for second place; businessman Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his campaign and endorsed Trump after finishing fourth (More)

  • West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said no third-party presidential candidate should declare until after the Super Tuesday primary contests in March. Manchin is touring the country amid speculation he may run (More)

  • President Biden’s re-election campaign said it has $117M in cash on hand, the most for any Democratic candidate at this point in an election year. The campaign raised close to $100M in Q4 of 2023 thanks to a Hollywood fundraising tour (More)

Business & Markets

  • Uber said it will shut down Drizly, three years after a $1.1B acquisition. The alcohol delivery service was plagued by a 2020 data breach that led to FTC restrictions (More)

  • Washington state's attorney general is suing to block the proposed merger between grocery store chains Albertsons and Kroger. The companies have over 300 combined locations in the state; the $25B deal had already hit regulatory snags (More)

  • A redesigned Apple Watch has received federal approval, overcoming an import ban. The tech giant has removed the pulse oximeter function following a patent dispute (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • The NFL playoffs are down to the final eight teams. The Ravens and Bills will host the Texans and Chiefs, respectively in the AFC next weekend; The NFC will see Buccaneers at Lions and Packers at 49ers matchups (More)

  • The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White was among the big winners at last night’s Emmy Awards, winning Best Comedy Actor. The event was delayed several months due to the Hollywood actor and writer strikes (More)

  • Shucked film adaptation has been green-lit by Mandalay Pictures. The hit Broadway musical-comedy ended its run last Sunday (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Be Safe: Almost the entire country is dealing with a cold snap, and that could mean snow in places that typically do not get it or have not in some time. It is an excellent time to brush up on these tips on safe driving in winter weather.

  • New Idea: We all lose our baby teeth and grow new ones as kids. Why can't we do it again as adults? A group of scientists in Japan believe we can. They have invented a drug that delivers an antibody that, in theory, will cue dormant tooth buds to replace lost teeth when necessary. 

  • Go Deep: The newest agricultural trend is "pee-cycling." And yes, it is exactly what you think it is. The Rich Earth Institute collects about 12K gallons of urine every year and researchers around the globe are studying urine's use as a fertilizer given how it is rich in nitrogen and minerals.

  • Life Hack: You can get much more than books at the library these days. Whether it be artwork, instruments, training course or even power tools, many libraries are diversifying their free offerings to offer more perks to members of their communities.

  • Get Healthy: Pop quiz: What’s the body’s most abundant protein? The answer: Collagen. NativePath's Certified Grass-Fed Collagen Powder is made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows and contains 18 grams of protein per suggested serving. Start incorporating it daily to support skin elasticity, joint health, bone strength, and muscle growth and maintenance.*


FX has released a trailer for FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans, the second season of an anthology series focusing on writer Truman Capote and the New York socialites in his orbit.

  • Guinness World Records is dealing with a dog-related scandal 🐶

  • These AI-powered binoculars can identify 9K types of animals 🐵

  • U.S. companies dealt with over $100B in scam returns last year 💰

  • An expert says school schedules should change to stop the flu 😷

  • People walk over a mile in snow at night to taste Swiss cheese 🧀

  • Meet the secretive car dealership billionaire compared to Batman 🚗

  • A plan to replicate the Las Vegas Sphere in London was kiboshed 🪩

  • Researchers are studying if coral transplants can save dying reefs 🪸

  • Suffer through a recap of the worst award show hosts in history 😬

  • Celebrity attorney Joe Tacopina has exited the Trump legal team ⚖️

Looking Ahead …

The Beatles did more than make music together. They also collaborated on a painting during a 1966 tour stop in Tokyo after being gifted art supplies by a fan. That work -- named Images of a Woman by a Japanese reporter -- will be auctioned by Christie's next month. Experts believe it could fetch as much as $600K.

Question of the Day

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Yesterday’s results:

What do you think about the reusable cup trend?

  • I am all for it and already use one (59%)

  • No opinion either way, I just want my coffee (23%)

  • It’s a bad idea and not as practical as shopping bags (18%)