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Russia's Latest Move To Poke At U.S.

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Friday. The final episode of Pat Sajak's 41-year run as Wheel of Fortune host will air tonight; the 77-year-old is stepping down after hosting over 8K shows. Ryan Seacrest will be Sajak's replacement with letter-turner Vanna White staying on. Have a great weekend!

In Today’s Brief

  • Hunter Biden: Pardon off table

  • Netanyahu: Date with Congress set

  • Bannon: Must serve jail time

  • Markets: Await payroll numbers

  • Cricket: Team USA stunner

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Nyet chill

Russia is visiting the neighborhood next week.

  • What's happening: The Kremlin is sending combat vessels into the Caribbean next week. Cuba has already announced four ships, including a nuclear-powered submarine, will be in Havana from June 12-17. There is speculation the convoy may also have a port call in Venezuela and some Russian aircraft may be present. Cuba said the Russian presence will not threaten the region.

  • The purpose: A U.S. official said Russia is trying to demonstrate it remains capable of global power projection. It will be the first time Russian ships have entered the region in several years, but similar missions were carried out from 2013-20.

  • Big picture: The White House will monitor the Russian ships being so close to American soil, but it is not overly concerned. While it is the latest provocative move by the Kremlin amid the war in Ukraine, it appears to be adhering to acceptable naval exercises. Russia may start making more of these excursions, although they stretch its limited resources.

2) Touchy subject

President Joe Biden's team had to take an awkward phone call from one of his biggest boosters.

  • The news: Hollywood star George Clooney reportedly reached out to a top White House aide to defend his wife, Amal Clooney, after she participated in the International Criminal Court's request for arrest warrants against Israeli and Hamas officials on war crimes allegations. The actor reached out after Biden blasted the decision; he was also reportedly concerned any U.S. sanctions against the ICC could impact his wife.

  • Catch up: Amal Clooney is a human rights lawyer. She advised the ICC before it moved forward with the claims against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Yoav Gallant. Clooney said the evidence accumulated by ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan supported the move.

  • Big picture: It is a complicated situation for Biden on more than one political front. His support for Israel in the Gaza war has caused significant friction with parts of his Democratic base. George Clooney is also a key re-election campaign supporter. He is scheduled to headline a star-studded Los Angeles fundraiser later this year alongside former President Barack Obama and actress Julia Roberts (Clooney is still on board). And Clooney spearheaded a 2020 event that raised Biden over $7M.

3) Risky business

The NFL is facing a tough matchup in the courtroom.

  • What happened: A class-action lawsuit challenging the legality of the league's Sunday Ticket game broadcast package began yesterday in Los Angeles federal court. The plaintiffs argue the league's practice of restricting some game telecasts to local markets creates a monopoly and forces consumers to pay more.

  • How it works: Some NFL games are broadcast nationally, but others are shown in limited markets. Fans who want to watch games not shown where they live must buy the Sunday Ticket package, carried by YouTube TV for almost $500 a season. The plaintiffs argue the NFL's approach to broadcast deals is anticompetitive. The league says the current arrangement gives fans broad access to games at good value.

  • Big picture: The NFL tends to settle significant lawsuits, but the potential impact on its business model has led to trial. Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones are among the potential witnesses. The plaintiffs are seeking $7B in damages, which triple in antitrust cases. So the NFL is threatened with a $21B verdict. 

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • President Biden said he will not pardon Hunter Biden if he is convicted on federal gun charges. His son also faces tax evasion charges; the president said he will accept the verdict in the ongoing gun trial (More)

  • California officials confirmed the state's first fatal black bear attack on a human. An autopsy review concluded a woman was killed by a bear in her home last year; it was initially believed she died before encountering the animal (More)

  • The Food and Drug Administration rescinded a marketing ban for Juul e-cigarettes. The agency said it is reviewing the products and they may receive federal clearance (More)

World News

  • Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress on July 24. He received a formal invitation last week; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer previously called for early Israeli elections to replace Netanyahu (More)

  • Prince Harry can appeal a United Kingdom High Court ruling regarding his police protection. The Duke of Sussex's challenge against the Home Office was thrown out in February (More)

  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's African National Congress party will seek to form a unity government. The ANC was recently voted out of a parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid (More)

Campaign News

  • A federal judge said Steve Bannon must report to prison on July 1 to serve a four-month sentence for contempt of Congress. The ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump defied subpoenas related to the Jan. 6 probe (More)

  • President Biden's re-election campaign has hired a National Republican Engagement Director to pursue GOP voters. Austin Weatherford was chief of staff for Trump critic and former Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger (More)

  • Biden and Trump are tied at 48% in Virginia, according to a Fox News poll. Biden won the state by 10 points in 2020; a GOP candidate has not won Virginia since former President George W. Bush in 2004 (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed mixed. Wall Street is awaiting May's payroll report, which will come out today (Dow +0.20%, Nasdaq -0.09%, S&P 500 -0.02%).

  • The Federal Trade Commission will launch antitrust probes into Microsoft and OpenAI regarding the companies' influence on the artificial intelligence industry. The Department of Justice is expected to investigate Nvidia as well (More)

  • Stock influencer Keith "Roaring Kitty" Gill is expected to go live on YouTube today for the first time in three years. GameStop stock jumped almost 50% on the announcement (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Team USA scored an upset victory over Pakistan in the T20 Cricket World Cup. Analysts said the result was one of the most stunning in the sport's international history (More)

  • Netflix faces a defamation lawsuit over Baby Reindeer. A California woman alleges she is the inspiration for the stalker character in the film and false statements were made about her (More)

  • The Stanley Cup Finals begin tomorrow night. The Florida Panthers will host the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1; Florida is seeking its first-ever championship while Edmonton last won a title in 1990 (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Fun Stuff: Have you ever seen a small dog ride a pony? If not, you will by clicking this link.

  • New Idea: Newcastle United will provide deaf fans with "sound shirts" next season. Microphones around the Premier League's stadium will convert arena noise to digital sound and relay it to haptic technology in the garments so supporters can feel the crowd.

  • Deep Dive: Animal testing is a highly controversial practice, but it may soon be a thing of the past thanks to AI. Experts believe the technology may be a reliable alternative to ensure drugs and other substances are safe for humans.

  • Go Figure: Many of us have been to a Best Buy store. Few of us likely knew the consumer electronics retailer's name and concept were the accidental result of a devastating tornado.

  • Life Hack: Actually, make that life hacks. Here are eight pieces of wisdom to help make your daily life easier, including the simple tip to read the instructions.

  • 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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If you need a pick-me-up, watch this.

Looking Ahead …

We are about to experience something that hasn't happened since George Washington was President. The summer solstice -- when Earth's tilt toward the sun is at its maximum -- will be June 20 at around 4:50 p.m. ET. It will be the earliest such occurrence since 1796.

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