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'Mob Movie' Juror Bribe In Federal Trial

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Tuesday. New Zealand's huia bird has been extinct for over 100 years. But one of its feathers still exists, and it just sold at auction for almost $30K. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • Biden: Executive action on border

  • Harris: Will attend Ukraine summit

  • Trump: Massive fundraising haul

  • GameStop: Another wild day

  • American Gladiators: Revival coming

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Indecent proposal

A juror was dismissed from a federal trial after receiving a colossal bribe offer.

  • What happened: A woman serving on a charitable fraud case jury in Minnesota was offered $120K to vote to acquit. A woman left a bag of cash at the juror's home and told the juror’s father-in-law even more would come if the juror voted to acquit. U.S. Assistant Attorney Joe Thompson called the scheme "outrageous behavior" and "the stuff that happens in mob movies."

  • The case: The bribe is tied to a trial in which seven defendants are accused of using the Feeding Our Future non-profit to steal $41M. It is part of a galaxy of cases in which 70 defendants are charged with making off with $250M that was supposed to go toward feeding hungry children during the COVID-19 pandemic; 18 have already pleaded guilty.

  • Next steps: The former juror immediately reported the bribe to the police, so the bag of cash is now in the FBI's hands. U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel has ordered the jury be sequestered for deliberations; U.S. Marshals will collect their cell phones while the government seeks a search warrant for the defendants' devices.

2) Down south

Mexico's first female president faces a slew of challenges.

  • History made: Claudia Sheinbaum and her Morena Party -- Mexico's left-wing, populist ruling party since 2018 -- was on pace to post a 30-point electoral victory as vote counting continued. She is the former Mexico City Mayor and the protege of outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Sheinbaum, 61, is also a scientist and the country's first Jewish head of state.

  • The issues: Sheinbaum will lead a nation racked by violence come October. Over 200 people were killed in election-related violence this cycle, including dozens of candidates. More people were murdered during AMLO's recent six-year term than any other in national history. Drug trafficking and human smuggling are spiking domestically.

  • U.S. impact: Mexico is America's biggest trade partner, and the USMCA free-trade deal will be renewed with Sheinbaum in office. Cooperation will also be sought, regardless of who inhabits the White House next year, on border security and drugs. Many think Sheinbaum will be a pragmatic leader the U.S. can work with, but her mentor has clashed with both former President Donald Trump and sitting President Joe Biden.

3) Crime reporting

A controversial news outlet's chief financial officer allegedly laundered tens of millions over several years.

  • The news: Weidong "Bill" Guan is charged with leading a scheme to launder almost $70M. Guan is the CFO of The Epoch Times. Federal prosecutors allege the plot involved cryptocurrency, prepaid debit cards, unemployment fraud and stolen personal information, with funds being funneled into the media company's coffers.

  • Added context: The Department of Justice said while The Epoch Times benefitted from the ill-gotten money, the charges against Guan do not relate to its newsgathering activity. The Epoch Times was founded by members of China's Falun Gong religious movement; it began as a strident opponent of the Chinese Communist Party and has evolved into a far-right booster of Trump and other conservative politicians; it has been criticized for promoting conspiracy theories.

  • Next steps: Guan, 61, faces one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of bank fraud. He has pleaded not guilty and was released on a $3M personal recognizance bond with travel and other restrictions. His charges carry maximum sentences of 20-30 years.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • President Biden is expected to sign an executive order on border security today. The measure will effectively shut the U.S.-Mexico border to illegal migrants seeking asylum when daily thresholds are hit (More)

  • A bison gored a Yellowstone National Park visitor, lifting them a foot off the ground. The person attacked was an 83-year-old woman; she was being treated at a local hospital with serious injuries (More)

  • Hawaii's Kīlauea volcano erupted yesterday. The event was limited in a remote area and posed no threat to Big Island communities (More)

World News

  • Vice President Kamala Harris will represent the U.S. at Ukraine's peace summit in Switzerland. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will also attend; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had publicly implored President Biden to attend (More)

  • Some Canadian lawmakers provide "witting or semi-witting" assistance to foreign meddling in the country. A government report alleges China and India are the most active in trying to influence domestic politics (More)

  • Nigel Farage will stand in the United Kingdom's general election after a surprise reversal. The Brexiteer initially said he would focus on helping former President Trump's re-election bid; he has agreed to lead the Reform UK party for five years (More)

Campaign News

  • Former President Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $141M in May. His campaign says $53M of the fundraising haul came after he was convicted in his felony hush money trial (More)

  • New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has formally filed to seek re-election as an independent. The three-term Democratic lawmaker's federal corruption trial is ongoing; he has vowed to run after being exonerated; he can still remove his name from the ballot if convicted (More)

  • Trump's Georgia election interference trial is unlikely to occur before Election Day. The former president's appeal hearing to disqualify the lead prosecutor has been scheduled for October (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed mixed yesterday. The Dow Jones was down over 100 points to start June while the Nasdaq was up close to 100 (Dow -0.30%, Nasdaq +0.56%, S&P 500 +0.11%).

  • GameStop stock jumped over 20% after Keith "Roaring Kitty" Gill appeared to reveal he holds 5M shares of the video game retailer along with 120K $20 call options; E*Trade may bounce the stock influencer from its platform for manipulation (More)

  • Paramount and Skydance Media have reportedly reached a merger agreement. The deal between the entertainment companies may be announced this week; controlling Paramount shareholder Shari Redstone will receive $2B if she signs off (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • American Gladiators is on the comeback trail. Amazon Prime has ordered a reboot of the 1980s and 90s program, which pitted contestants against gladiators in physical competitions (More)

  • Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Allen died suddenly at 52. The former Dallas Cowboys star passed away while on vacation with his family in Mexico; the offensive tackle made 11 Pro Bowls (More)

  • San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano faces a lifetime gambling ban. Major League Baseball has reportedly received information showing he bet on the sport last season while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates (More

Quick Hitters

  • Fun Stuff: We recently shared a photo of a hilariously grumpy-looking cat. This feline may have the biggest smile in the world.

  • Take Note: Everyone has dreams. They often reflect what is going on while we are awake living our lives.

  • Go Deep: Milk is prevalent in American schools. Centuries of marketing and promotion by the dairy industry have given the drink its immense clout.

  • True Crime: A Tennessee high school teacher gave his sociology students an assignment. They ended up helping to solve six cold-case murders.

  • Life Hack: Feeling stressed? Start an art project; the process of being creative can bring a sense of calm and reduce anxiety.

  • 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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