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Eastern Europe's Latest Upheaval

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Thursday. Jerry Seinfeld's much anticipated Unfrosted, a film about the creation of Pop-Tarts, debuts tomorrow on Netflix. It sounds like the comedian took some creative license, but the story may be more accurate than you'd think. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • House: MTG persists

  • Sudan: Threat to major city

  • Trump: Addressing Libertarians

  • Fed: Rate hike unlikely

  • Comcast: MLB games go dark

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Controversy in the Caucasus

new law may upend Georgia's hopes to align with the West.

  • The news: Georgian lawmakers have all but finalized legislation designating Western-funded civil service groups as foreign agents. The law covers media outlets, NGOs and other organizations that get more than 20% of funds from abroad. A final vote is still needed, but is likely a formality after the latest reading passed by an 83-23 parliamentary vote spurred by the ruling Georgian Dream party.

  • The backlash: Thousands have protested the bill in the capital city of Tbilisi, alleging it is similar to measures Russian President Vladimir Putin has used to hide corruption and suppress dissent and freedom of speech. Pepper spray, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons have been used on demonstrators, with dozens arrested.

  • Big picture: Georgia was granted European Union candidate status last year. The law -- and the treatment of protesters -- could torpedo EU accession. Georgia also has NATO membership aspirations. Georgian Dream is not explicitly pro-Kremlin, but the country has remained neutral in the war in Ukraine. Putin invaded Georgia in 2008 and Russia still occupies two breakaway regions.

2) Tragedy averted

Police in Wisconsin thwarted a school shooting.

  • What happened: A 14-year-old male suspect was shot and killed outside Mount Horeb Middle School, about 20 miles outside of Madison, yesterday. The suspect was neutralized after a confrontation with law enforcement; he was reportedly carrying a long gun.

  • More details: No injuries were reported among staff and students. Officials said the alleged gunman did not breach the building. Bomb technicians searched a vehicle associated with the suspect for evidence, but Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said there was no ongoing threat to the community.

  • Big picture: The state Department of Justice will conduct an investigation. Involved cops have been placed on mandatory leave due to use-of-force protocols. Officials praised the school's staff for implementing a lockdown and alerting police, as well as the school district's proactive safety measures like locked doors and vestibules.

3) Red light

A bipartisan group of legislators has some questions for Formula 1.

  • The news: A dozen House members asked Liberty Media, the racing circuit's parent company, why a U.S.-owned race team was not allowed entrance. The team in question is led by Mario Andretti, one of two men to win the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. Andretti was on Capitol Hill yesterday.

  • Go deeper: Andretti Global was initially awarded entrance into the F1 grid. The league's governing body then backtracked, saying the team would not be sufficiently competitive. F1 has 10 teams with two drivers each; it said an 11th team alone would not add enough value to be included.

  • Big picture: The legislators are questioning whether F1 may be violating antitrust law by blocking two American-held companies -- Andretti's team is partnered with General Motors -- from the circuit. The league does have one American-owned team, Haas F1. While the circuit is a global sport, its popularity has grown exponentially in the U.S. The Miami Grand Prix is this weekend.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she will force a vote to oust Speaker of the House Mike Johnson next week. House Democrats have signaled they will block the measure and allow Johnson to hold onto the gavel (More)

  • Arizona's state senate finalized a repeal of its 19th-century abortion ban. Gov. Katie Hobbs is expected to sign the bill and make a 15-week ban the state's law; it is unclear when the reversal will take effect (More)

  • United Methodist Church overturned a 40-year ban on LGBTQ clergy during its general conference in Charlotte. The church also repealed a prohibition on its ministers officiating at same-sex weddings (More)

World News

  • A Sudanese city of 800K faces the threat of a "large scale massacre" amid an ongoing civil war in the African nation. The Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group and client militias have encircled El Fasher; the U.S. believes an offensive is imminent (More)

  • An artificial pier to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza may be operational this weekend. U.S. troops are constructing the port in the Mediterranean Sea; the Pentagon has pledged American forces will not enter the enclave (More)

  • South Korea may join the AUKUS alliance. The bloc, which currently consists of Australia, the UK and U.S., shares advanced military technology to counter China's growing presence in the Pacific; Japan is also moving toward collaboration (More)

Campaign News

  • Former President Donald Trump will speak at the Libertarian Party convention later this month. The party has moved to the right in recent years and has not yet selected a presidential nominee; President Joe Biden was also invited to speak (More)

  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. offered a long-shot "no spoiler" pact to Biden. The independent presidential candidate proposed a joint 50-state poll of at least 30K voters; the loser would drop out to facilitate a two-way race with Trump (More)

  • Democratic State Sen. Tim Kennedy won a special election in New York's 26th Congressional District. Kennedy beat Republican candidate Gary Dickson by almost 40 points; the GOP House majority will narrow to 217-213 with five vacancies when Kennedy is seated (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed mixed yesterday after the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell downplayed concerns about a rate hike (Dow +0.23%, Nasdaq -0.33%, S&P 500 -0.34%).

  • House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is probing the FTC's work with the European Commission regarding a failed Amazon acquisition. The Kentucky Republican asked for documentation on the antitrust issues on both continents that thwarted the tech giant’s $1.4B plan to buy Roomba vacuum manufacturer iRobot (More)

  • Johnson & Johnson reached a $6.5B settlement to resolve allegations its talc product caused ovarian cancer. The settlement will be paid out to former customers over 25 years and closes almost all outstanding lawsuits (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Bally Sports regional networks are blacked out for Comcast cable customers after carriage negotiations broke down. The networks carry home games for 11 Major League Baseball teams; Bally Sports operator Diamond Sports Group is under bankruptcy protection (More)

  • Harvey Weinstein will face a new rape trial in New York. The Manhattan District Attorney has elected to retry their case after the disgraced film producer's 2020 conviction was overturned last week; Weinstein remains incarcerated due to a separate rape conviction in Los Angeles (More)

  • Former Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider filed a defamation lawsuit against the creators and producers of the Quiet on Set documentary series. He alleges they implied he sexually abused child stars and made false statements (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Real Hero: When a school bus driver in Wisconsin had a medical emergency behind the wheel, an eighth-grader sprung into action. The boy managed to get the driver's foot off the gas, hit the brakes and then call 911.

  • Be Safe: The FDA and CDC said an E. coli outbreak is tied to organic walnuts. At least a dozen people have become sick in as many states; the walnuts were distributed nationwide.

  • History Lesson: Public messaging started long before the age of iMessage. Here is an in-depth look at its history, from cave drawings to the present day.

  • Fun Stuff: A remote island in Scotland is covered with garden gnomes. No one is entirely sure how they got there, or how the population keeps growing.

  • Life Hack: People are finding new ways to save money due to inflation. Some are simple, like shopping for discounts at the farmer's market. Others -- like train hopping to avoid paying rent -- are not.

  • OPTIMIZE ME: Researchers “found convincing evidence that higher intake of ultra-processed foods was associated with 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48% to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes”

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East German scientists invented heat-resistant, virtually unbreakable glass near the end of the Cold War. But it never caught on.

Looking Ahead …

You can go bold -- and weird -- on summer vacation this year. Airbnb has announced some of its more extraordinary rental options, including a night inside the Ferrari Museum and, yes, some time in the balloon house from Up.

Question of the Day — Thursday Trivia Edition

Lawn gnomes were invented in which country?

Choose one ...

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Yesterday’s results:

Have cicadas emerged near you?

  • They are not expected in my area (56%)

  • Not yet, but they are supposed to arrive (38%)

  • Yes (6%)