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Elite Collegiate 'Cartel' Pays Up

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Thursday. There is a new proposal to build America’s tallest building in an unexpected place. A real estate group wants to place a 1,907-foot skyscraper in Oklahoma City, surpassing New York’s One World Trade Center by over 100 feet. The project will need an exception from city zoning restrictions, however, so it is not quite a go just yet. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • Alabama: Unproven execution today

  • Israel: Denied UN attack claim

  • Biden: Big union endorsement

  • Microsoft: Hits $3T market cap

  • Jon Stewart: Daily Show return

... and more

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Top Tips

1) College cash

Several elite universities agreed to cough up over $100M to settle an antitrust lawsuit.

  • The case: Plaintiffs alleged 17 institutions colluded to operate a "price-fixing cartel" and restrict financial aid by sharing information through a now-defunct consortium. The lawsuit accuses the schools of considering student finances in admissions decisions to favor wealthy candidates.

  • The settlements: Brown, Duke, Columbia, Emory and Yale settled for a combined $105M yesterday, according to court filings. The University of Chicago, Rice and Vanderbilt had previously settled; those other payouts are believed to be north of $50M combined.

  • Next steps: Cornell, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame are among the remaining active defendants. All involved universities have denied wrongdoing.

2) AI and 2024

fake robocall impersonating President Joe Biden has renewed fears of political mayhem and mischief caused by artificial intelligence.

  • What happened: New Hampshire voters received a recorded call imitating Biden's voice and urging them to sit out the state's Democratic primary. The New Hampshire attorney general office is investigating.

  • The fallout: Biden easily won the race as a write-in candidate after the national party deemphasized the state's primary. But the call served as a reminder of the need to guard and protect against deepfakes and other AI-generated deception in the coming months.

  • Keep in mind: The fake Biden call is one of several AI kerfuffles so far with varying levels of the political arena impacted. OpenAI shut down a bot pretending to be longshot Democratic candidate and Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips. There is also a fake audio controversy involving local politicians in New York City.

3) Drink up

Saudi Arabia will open its first liquor store in at least 70 years.

  • The scoop: The store will in the diplomatic district of Riyadh, the country's largest city and capital. It will only be open to non-Muslim diplomats and will operate with many restrictions and rules.

  • The context: Alcohol consumption is forbidden in Islam and has been banned in the kingdom since 1952. But booze has long been sold on the black market and smuggled into embassies through diplomatic delivery. The move allows Saudi Arabia to follow the lead of other Muslim countries that have restricted alcohol sales.

  • Big picture: It is the latest step toward liberalization by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he seeks to diversify the economy and make it less reliant on oil. There have been reports tourists could be allowed to drink at a planned resort.

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Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Alabama may conduct the first-ever execution with nitrogen gas today. A federal appeals court denied Kenneth Eugene Smith's appeal yesterday; his attorneys will likely seek a last-minute reprieve from the Supreme Court to halt the unproven method (More)

  • House Republicans will vote on articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in committee next week. A full chamber vote could occur early next month (More)

  • Florida's state house passed a bill banning social media use by children under 16. The proposed legislation does not outline what platforms would be restricted; the state senate has not yet considered the bill (More)

World News

  • Israel denied responsibility for an attack on a United Nations shelter in Gaza that killed at least nine people and wounded 75. A UN official blamed Israel, but the Israelis suggested Hamas was responsible (More)

  • Russia claimed Ukraine shot down a military plane, killing 65 Ukrainian POWs and nine others. The claims were not confirmed by Ukraine or independently verified; the Ukrainians accused Russia of not asking for airspace clearance (More)

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he will urge his country's parliament to approve Sweden's addition to NATO. Hungary's legislative signoff is the last remaining hurdle to finalize Swedish entry into the alliance (More)

Campaign News

  • The United Auto Workers endorsed President Biden after he addressed the union's political convention. The support comes amid concerns about Biden's polling in Michigan and other auto-making states (More)

  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu criticized calls for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to drop out of the Republican presidential race. Sununu, who supports Haley, called RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniels' request "nonsense" (More)

  • Arizona state GOP chairman Jeff DeWit resigned after a leaked recording where he appeared to attempt to bribe Kari Lake to abandon her Senate campaign. DeWit accused Lake of blackmail and setting him up (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed mixed yesterday. The Dow Jones had its second straight losing day (Dow -0.26%, Nasdaq +0.36%, S&P 500 +0.08%).

  • Microsoft hit a $3T market cap, joining rival Apple as the second company in history to achieve the milestone. The tech giant closed the day under the mark, but its stock price finished trading up about 1% (More)

  • Amazon's Ring will no longer permit law enforcement to request users' doorbell video footage through its public app. Police can still obtain video with a search warrent or subpoena (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Jon Stewart will return to The Daily Show and host the program every Monday through November's presidential election. Stewart begins Feb. 12; the comedian will serve as an executive producer for all episodes through 2025 (More)

  • Jim Harbaugh will be the Los Angeles Chargers' new head coach. He returns to the NFL after leading Michigan to a national championship last season (More)

  • Five members of the 2018 Canadian junior hockey team are expected to face sexual assault charges in London, Ontario. The alleged incident happened that year; four NHL players who were on that team have taken leaves of absence in recent days (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Be Safe: Ford has recalled close to 2M Explorer vehicles due to a windshield defect. A faulty metal connection could fall off and become a hazard. Cars released from 2011-19 are impacted. 

  • Other Worldly: NASA has finally opened a canister containing dust and rock collected from an asteroid after it took four months to repair broken latches. The samples will be distributed to scientists worldwide for examination.

  • Chow Down: Want to make incredibly fluffy scrambled eggs this weekend? The secret ingredient is a simple one -- a splash of water. We'd throw in some chives, too.

  • Life Hack: If you have too much stuff, stress tends to follow. So here are some helpful tips to clear the clutter in your home and bring some added peace to your life.

  • 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.*


Netflix released a trailer for Mea Culpa. The upcoming legal thriller is directed by Tyler Perry and stars Kelly Rowland; it is about a criminal defense attorney who defends an artist accused of murder.

Looking Ahead …

George Washington's dentures -- no, they're not made of wood -- are found in museums. But if you have the cash, you can soon own Winston Churchill's false teeth. The Cotswold Auction Company is placing the late British Prime Minister's fake chompers on the block next month; they are expected to fetch as much as $10K.

Question of the Day

Would you get an impromptu tattoo at a party?

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Yesterday’s results:

Should known or suspected PED users be in the Hall of Fame?

  • No (84%)

  • Yes (16%)