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TSA Expanding Controversial Program

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Tuesday. Here is a baby shark that is fascinating rather than headache-inducing. Researchers believe a wildlife photographer in California captured the first known image of an infant great white shark while using a drone last year. Scientists know little about how great whites give birth, and this footage is a clue. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • IRS: Tax return leaker sentenced

  • Venezuela: Oil sanctions may resume

  • Biden: Taylor Swift endorsement push

  • Amazon: Won’t buy Roomba maker

  • Olympics: Gold medal reversal likely

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Eyes on the sky

The Transportation Security Administration plans to expand its facial recognition program despite pushback from lawmakers.

  • The plan: TSA wants to use facial recognition scanners at more than 400 airports in the coming years. It currently uses them at about 30. The scanners take real-time photos of travelers and compare them against IDs.

  • Going deeper: TSA is working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the scanners are accurate. The agency said it is conducting limited testing with less-invasive one-to-one matching methods and the scanners retain no data.

  • Big picture: A bipartisan group of Senators proposed a bill last year that would end the program without congressional approval. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley alleged it was a step toward "a full-blown national surveillance state." But there has been no movement since.

2) Jordan attack fallout

Confusion may have led to a fatal attack on a U.S. military outpost in Jordan.

  • The report: U.S. officials believe an enemy drone was mistaken for an American drone returning to the base, leading to the strike that killed three troops and wounded over 40. The drone was said to have flown at a low altitude and may have trailed the U.S. drone.

  • Iran's denial: The Iranian government denied involvement after President Joe Biden said the attack was mounted by its proxies. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility; the group consists of militias bankrolled by Tehran.

  • Big picture: Biden pledged a military response and is planning a significant operation with his cabinet, although the White House made it clear it does not seek war with Iran. The U.S. is concerned about expanding the regional conflict while Biden faces domestic calls for aggressive action.

3) UNRWA crisis

Israel claims almost 200 employees of a United Nations aid agency in Gaza were aligned with Hamas and other militant groups.

  • The allegations: Israel has reportedly presented the U.S. with evidence and intelligence, naming a dozen UNRWA workers it said were involved with Hamas' Oct. 7 attack that sparked the ongoing war in the enclave. Workers are accused of kidnappings, distributing ammunition and assisting an attack on a kibbutz that killed almost 100, among other actions. 

  • The response: Several countries, including the U.S., have paused UNRWA funding. The UN said it had fired nine employees and pledged to hold those involved in terrorism accountable, but called on nations to resume financial support.

  • Big picture: UNRWA is the primary aid agency in Gaza; the UN said it will exhaust its funding in weeks, potentially exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the enclave. Israel has repeatedly accused the UN of working against it during the conflict.

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Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • A former IRS contractor who leaked former President Trump's tax returns was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Charles Littlejohn also leaked returns for Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and other wealthy people (More)

  • A South Carolina judge denied Alex Murdaugh's request for a retrial. The disgraced attorney was convicted of killing his wife and son last year; he claimed jury tampering in his appeal (More)

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his state will continue to send migrants to sanctuary cities. Texas has clashed with the Biden Administration on border security for months (More)

World News

  • The U.S. may renew energy sanctions on Venezuela in April after a leading opposition candidate was banned from this year's presidential election. Sanctions were eased after the country agreed to democratic reforms (More)

  • Japan's moon explorer is operating again after several days offline. The probe needs sunlight for power and it landed upside down, blocking its solar panels (More)

  • King Charles and Princess Kate were both released from a London hospital yesterday. Charles was there for three days after a procedure for an enlarged prostate; Kate returned home after a two-week stay following abdominal surgery (More)

Campaign News

  • President Biden's re-election campaign is reportedly working to secure Taylor Swift's endorsement. The campaign has identified the pop singer and other celebrities as potentially powerful surrogates (More)

  • Illinois' elections board will consider a recommendation to remove former President Trump from the state's ballot. The Supreme Court will hear an appeal on Trump's removal from Colorado's ballot on 14th Amendment grounds (More)

  • Trump could face civil penalties totaling roughly $500M after the upcoming verdict in his New York civil business fraud trial. The figure would be about 15% of his stated net worth; Trump was already ordered to pay almost $90M in two defamation judgments (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed up yesterday. The S&P 500 posted a fresh record high at the bell (Dow +0.59%, Nasdaq +1.12%, S&P 500 +0.76%).

  • Amazon's $1.4B acquisition of iRobot was scrapped over European Union regulatory issues. The Roomba vacuum maker will lay off 30% of its workforce as a result; CEO Colin Angle has resigned (More)

  • Sports Illustrated's newsroom guild has accused The Arena Group of unlawful labor practices. The NRLB filing alleges the parent company engineered a licensing dispute for union-busting purposes (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva received a four-year doping ban and had her 2022 Olympic results disqualified. The International Skating Union is expected to strip Russia of its team gold medal and award it to the U.S. (More)

  • Taylor Swift will not perform at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. The pop star will attend the event; Swift has been nominated for six awards (More)

  • Suits reruns set a record with roughly 58B viewing minutes in 2023, according to Nielsen. The Office held the previous record with just over 57B in 2020 (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Be Safe: Toyota recalled 50K older vehicles due to faulty airbags, saying owners should stop driving the cars immediately. The company is offering free mobile repairs or towing to a dealership, as the airbags could send sharp metal fragments flying if deployed (More)

  • New Idea: Dandelions could soon help build car tires. Researchers are working on methods to use the weeds to increase latex yield amid concerns about the global rubber supply chain.

  • Go Deep: Here is an inside look at click farms, operations that inflate online engagement numbers and manipulate algorithms. Among the hacks are rows of cell phones where social media posts are liked en masse.

  • Chow Down: Craving some spaghetti carbonara? You can make it happen tonight at home -- here is a 30-minute recipe to try.

  • Life Hack: Most people have a box or drawer full of random old charging cables and devices that they want to take care of, but need help figuring out how to start. These smart tips are excellent for getting the tidying project off the ground.

  • Be Well: 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.*


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The latest trailer for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is out. Among the highlights: Bill Murray suited up as Dr. Peter Venkman and the return of Slimer.

Looking Ahead …

The city of Seoul plans to build the world's tallest ferris wheel. The proposed attraction would stand almost 600 feet tall and carry 1.4K passengers across intersecting ring, almost double the capacity of the London Eye. City officials hope to begin construction next year and open in 2028.

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