Good morning and happy Friday! Researchers believe the world's largest forest is located in upstate New York, of all places. Scientists says trees and root systems at the bottom of a quarry in Cairo, about 45 minutes south of Albany and two hours outside of Manhattan, could be 385M years old. The Amazon rainforest is only 55M years old, for comparison. Have a great weekend!
In Today’s Brief
Hunter Biden: Deal with House GOP
Gaza: Bibi rejects two-state solution
New Hampshire: Trump up big in polls
Interest rates: Fed leader’s forecast
World Cup: Dallas to host 2026 final
1) Train like it's 1989
NATO will conduct its biggest military exercise since the end of the Cold War as Russia's invasion of Ukraine heads toward a third year.
The plan: The Steadfast Defender 2024 drills will begin next week and run through May at sites across Europe. All 31 alliance members and pending member Sweden will participate in the wargames; about 90K troops will be involved.
Unspoken purpose: While not announced, the exercise is clearly a rehearsal for -- and a deterrent against -- a direct Kremlin attack on alliance territory. Drills will be conducted in Poland, which borders Russian client state Belarus, and eastern member countries considered most susceptible to Russian aggression.
Show of force: The U.S. has not said how many troops it will send, but the United Kingdom has committed to 20K. The alliance will deploy over 500 fighting vehicles, over 100 tanks, almost 100 fighter jets and over 50 warships in the exercise.
2) Election interference?
No Labels has alleged a criminal conspiracy to prevent it from mounting a third-party presidential ticket.
What happened: The nonpartisan group asked the Department of Justice to launch an investigation. It claims major party officials and others are subverting voting rights, intimidating prospective candidates and attempting to deny ballot access.
To that point ... Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge and other groups are openly working to prevent third-party candidates from complicating President Joe Biden's re-election effort. No Labels is arguing actions such as scrutinizing state ballot law compliance could be racketeering.
Big picture: Democrats are fearful a No Labels candidate or independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could swing the general election to former President Donald Trump, the presumed Republican nominee. The GOP has also expressed qualms about third-party bids.
3) DOJ’s scathing Uvalde report
The DOJ found "cascading failures" by law enforcement regarding a 2022 school shooting in Texas.
What happened: A gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022. The killer was then neutralized by police over an hour after an initial 911 call was made.
The findings: Attorney General Merrick Garland said victims and survivors "deserved better" in a statement accompanying a 600-page report. The DOJ found lapses in safety, training and school policies, as well as communication, leadership and tactical failures by cops. The DOJ concluded lives could have been saved if not for glaring mistakes.
The response: Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke called on the DOJ to file criminal charges against the involved officers. Experts say the report and DOJ best practice suggestions will likely impact law enforcement and school district policymaking.
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Hunter Biden and House Republicans have reached a testimony deal after he defied a subpoena last month. The president's son will sit for a closed-door deposition on Feb. 28 (More)
Congress voted to avert a partial government shutdown yesterday, passing a continuing resolution through early March. President Biden will sign the bill today (More)
The LA Innocence Project has taken up the case of Scott Peterson, who was convicted of killing his wife and unborn child in a 2004 trial that drew national attention. Peterson maintains his innocence and has alleged jury misconduct (More)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. The U.S. and Arab nations have said that is their strategy once Israel's war with Hamas ends (More)
Pakistan and Iran have conducted cross-border airstrikes this week, claiming they are attacking militants in the other country. Both nations have issued condemnations, but escalation is considered unlikely (More)
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak implored the unelected House of Lords to pass a bill sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. The controversial proposal passed the House of Commons amid fears it could collapse Sunak's government (More)
Donald Trump has a 14-point lead on former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in a pair of fresh New Hampshire GOP primary polls. The surveys were done by The Boston Globe and Saint Anselm College; an American Research Group poll has Haley tied with Trump in the state (More)
Trump has filed a brief to the Supreme Court appealing his Colorado ballot ban on 14th Amendment grounds. He argued he was not an officer of the United States and did not participate in insurrection (More)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis conceded his campaign erred by avoiding major media outlets at its start. DeSantis finished a distant second to Trump in the Iowa caucus and is now focused on next month's South Carolina primary (More)
Business & Markets
Major indexes closed up yesterday as the Dow Jones broke out of a three-day funk. Both it and the Nasdaq enjoyed 200-point gains (Dow +0.54%, Nasdaq +1.35%, S&P 500 +0.88%).
Raphael Bostic expects the Federal Reserve to begin interest rate cuts in Q3. The central bank's Atlanta president is a voting member on the Fed's rate-setting committee (More)
Reddit is planning to launch an initial public offering in March. It would be the first IPO by a social media company since Pinterest in 2019; Reddit was valued at $10B in 2021 (More)
Entertainment & Sports
The 2026 World Cup final will reportedly be played at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington. MetLife Stadium in New Jersey was the runner-up; Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium previously dropped out of consideration (More)
Reba McIntire will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl LVIII next month in Las Vegas. Post Malone will perform America the Beautiful prior to kickoff (More)
Madonna and Live Nation face a lawsuit after several New York concerts started two hours late. The filing alleges false advertising and seeks damages for two fans (More)
Feel Good: Jordan Love will bring positive karma into the Green Bay Packers' playoff game tomorrow at the San Francisco 49ers. The quarterback recently helped a college student during a snowstorm.
Go Deep: Ultraviolet light can kill almost every virus upon exposure. Why isn't it everywhere, then? Efforts to make the technology more prevalent have begun, but there are many unanswered questions about the impact on humans.
Chow Down: A group of foragers in the United Kingdom lived on wild food for 1-3 months last year as part of a research study. The result? Going truly organic may have many benefits. Among them: improved gut health and body sugar levels.
Life Hack: You know that little compartment for dishwasher detergent capsules? Stop using it. No, really -- an expert explains why you can just throw the soap in, among other tips.
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.*
Should the U.S. Treasury get rid of the penny? There is a good argument to do so, as this Kite & Key Media explainer video outlines.
Looking Ahead …
The band No Doubt will reunite at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April. The event will also be headlined by Ice Spice and Lana Del Rey, among others. The full lineup for the two-weekend event can be found here.
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