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North Korea Trolls South Korea With Trash

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good Thursday morning. Pizza boxes can be tricky to get rid of once you are done with them, which is why Central Park now has a special recycling bin for them. And it will be emptied three times a day this summer -- that's how many pizza pies get carried in by visitors. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • National Zoo: Pandas returning

  • Raisi: U.S. to skip UN tribute

  • Trump trial: No verdict

  • White House: Passed on TikTok deal

  • Scheffler: Charges dropped

... and more

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Top Tips

1) DMZ disgust

North Korea is playing dirty with South Korea.

  • What happened: The North floated hundreds of garbage bags tied to balloons into the South overnight yesterday. The trash reportedly included old batteries, bottles, dirt, excrement, paper and other waste. South Koreans were told not to touch any objects and to report them to the military, which said the stunt violated international law.

  • Tit for tat: While the government discourages it, South Korean activists frequently send anti-Pyongyang leaflets and other materials, including copies of television shows and K-pop music, over the border via balloon. The North Korean regime said the trash dump was a direct response.

  • Big picture: The airlift comes on the heels of a failed military satellite launch by North Korea after a successful one last year. Some observers surmised dictator Kim Jong Un is angling to antagonize and develop bargaining chips he can use in talks if former President Donald Trump gets re-elected, a strategy his late grandfather and father used during their reigns.

2) Picking up the flag

Justice Samuel Alito told Congress he will not recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases before the Supreme Court.

  • Catch up: Democratic lawmakers have called for the conservative justice to step away after media reports revealed an upside-down American flag and an "Appeal to Heaven" flag were flown over his properties. Both flags have been tied to 2020 election deniers and Capitol rioters.

  • The decision: Alito told Congress that his wife flew the flags without his involvement and was not supporting the movement in question. He said he asked his wife to remove the upside-down flag, which reportedly was a response to a dispute with a neighbor, and she refused for several days. Alito said he has concluded the situation does not merit his recusal.

  • The cases: The high court will rule on two separate, but somewhat connected, matters ied to Jan. 6 before the end of its current term. The first deals with charges against rioters, the second is Trump's appeal that he has complete presidential immunity in his federal election interference trial. If the court rules in favor of the rioters, the decision would likely impact the government's case against Trump.

  • Big picture: Trump praised Alito's decision while Democrats panned the justice. It is the latest controversy facing the court and the ethics policy it established for itself last year. Alito pointed to the code in justifying his decision.

3) Stage fight

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is trying to force his way into next month's presidential debate.

  • The news: The independent candidate has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. He alleges CNN colluded with the campaigns of President Joe Biden and Trump to keep him out of the event. The network will host the debate on June 27 after the major candidates bypassed the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates earlier this month.

  • The argument: Kennedy says CNN's qualification criteria is effectively a prohibited corporate contribution to the campaigns. The network said candidates must be on the ballot in enough states to win 270 electoral votes and have at least 15% in four national polls that meet its standards. Kennedy said the requirements are not objective and asserted neither Biden or Trump have technically secure ballot access before their party nominating events.

  • Big picture: Kennedy wants the FEC to prevent the debate from occurring until the supposed breaches in federal law are addressed. He has until June 20 to qualify for the debate. While he already has met the polling threshold in three surveys, it will be tough for him to get to a mathematical possibility of 270 electoral votes by the deadline. No third-party candidate has made a presidential debate since the late H. Ross Perot in 1992.

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Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Pandas are coming back to the National Zoo in Washington. The Smithsonian announced two bears named Bao Li and Qinq Bao are expected to arrive from China by the end of the year (More)

  • Harvard University will no longer make statements on political and social issues that do not impact the institution's "core function." The Ivy League school has dealt with campus antisemitism allegations and protests against the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza (More)

  • Louisiana lawmakers passed legislation requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all colleges and schools receiving public funds. Gov. Jeff Landry still has to sign the bill; it will face legal challenges if made into law (More)

World News

  • The U.S. will boycott a United Nations memorial service for late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killedin a helicopter crash. It is standard practice for the UN General Assembly to meet in tribute when a sitting head of state dies; the State Department did send formal condolences (More)

  • A person died after falling into a jet engine at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Officials said they were investigating whether it was an accident or a suicide; the incident happened on a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight before it took off for Denmark (More)

  • Millions are at risk of famine in Zambia due to severe droughts. Environmental Minister Collins Nzozu said the harsh conditions have damaged the African nation's economy and led to lengthy power outages; a state of emergency was declared in February (More)

Campaign News

  • There was no verdict in former President Trump's hush money trial. Jurors deliberated for four and a half hours and sent two notes; the trial will resume this morning (More)

  • President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attempted to reset their campaign's Black voter outreach at a Philadelphia event. Biden won 92% of the Black vote in 2020; recent polls have him down over 20 points with the group (More)

  • Billionaire businessman Elon Musk and Trump are reportedly speaking several times a month. The former president is considering an advisory role for the Tesla CEO if re-elected; Musk has yet to endorse him (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed down yesterday. The Dow Jones dropped over 400 points (Dow -1.06%, Nasdaq -0.58%, S&P 500 -0.74%).

  • The Biden Administration reportedly rejected a proposal giving the U.S. government considerable control over TikTok. Chinese parent company ByteDance said federal officials could appoint board members for its American subsidiary and examine the social media app's source code (More)

  • The United Kingdom's Royal Mail has accepted a $4.6B takeover offer from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky. EP Group, the proposed new foreign owner, said it is committed to maintaining the operations and standards of the 500-year-old postal service (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • All criminal charges against professional golfer Scottie Scheffler were dropped. The world's No. 1-ranked player was arrested at the PGA Championship in Louisville after an altercation with a police officer on traffic duty (More)

  • Gabby Douglas pulled out of the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, ending her bid for the Paris Olympics after an eight-year hiatus. The gymnast is a three-time gold medal winner, winning the all-around title in 2012 at the London Games (More)

  • USC's Bronny James will remain in the NBA draft. The son of LeBron James will hold workouts for the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns; he is expected to be selected in the two-round draft (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Fun Stuff: Everyone has to start somewhere, even future presidents. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of summer jobs worked by the men who went on to lead the free world.

  • Look Back: Frank Lloyd Wright was working on one final big idea before he died. The legendary architect wanted to turn Ellis Island into a futuristic, self-sustained city.

  • Go Deep: Loneliness has become an epidemic. Here is how we all can combat it.

  • Take Note: You can have too much of a good thing when it comes to fiber intake. Our bodies will send us these signals when we have crossed that line.

  • Life Hack: Getting sucked into interpersonal drama can be exhausting and upsetting. But there are simple ways to set boundaries and stay above the fray.

  • 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.”

Want more health and wellness news? Subscribe to our brand new newsletter, Optimize Me, and start living a healthier life through diet, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness:

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George Clooney and Brad Pitt play rival fixers enlisted to work together in Wolfs; the trailer for the summer film dropped yesterday

Looking Ahead …

We still have a long way to go until the 2024 presidential election, but it's never too early to talk about 2028. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, is already beginning to generate some buzz.

Question of the Day

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Yesterday’s results:

What do you think the Trump verdict will be?

  • Hung jury and mistrial (48%)

  • Guilty on some charges (24%)

  • Not guilty (16%)

  • Guilty on all charges (12%)