Good morning and happy Thursday. If you are having a bad day, remember that it could always be worse. Ask Richard Plaud. The Frenchman built a 23-foot tall replica of the Eiffel Tower using matches, only to be told he did not use the right ones to earn entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. So that would be eight years, 50 pounds of glue and 707K matches all for nothing. Talk about a bad break. Have a great day.
In Today’s Brief
FDA: Lead-tainted applesauce traced
Gaza: Bibi rejects Hamas’ latest offer
Supreme Court: Trump appeal hearing
Uber: Turns first annual profit after IPO
Taylor Swift: Flight tracker legal threat
1) Striking back
A U.S. drone attack in Iraq killed a senior leader of the Iranian-backed militia tied to the recent death of three troops in Jordan.
The operation: A vehicle carrying Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Baqir al-Saadi and two guards was targeted in Baghdad. All three men were killed in the precision strike. The Pentagon said al-Saadi helped plan attacks against U.S. troops in the region.
The context: Kataib Hezbollah is believed to have carried out a drone strike on a U.S. outpost in Jordan last week. Three service members were killed and almost 50 were injured.
Big picture: The drone strike continues the U.S. response campaign after the Jordan attack. But the previous strikes have been in the Iraq-Syria border region, not populated areas like a busy street.
2) Train probe on track
The NTSB has set a timeline to determine the cause of last year's fiery train derailment in Ohio.
What happened: A Norfolk Southern freight train had 38 cars derail just over a year ago in East Palestine, near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. The cars were carrying hazardous materials; some burned for over two days. Residents within a mile radius were evacuated.
The findings: Federal investigators say they will approve their conclusion report at a June 25 meeting at East Palestine High. Cleanup is still ongoing, but the EPA believes it could wrap up this summer if no new contamination is discovered.
Big picture: A bipartisan Railway Safety Act was presented in the Senate shortly after the derailment, but it has gone nowhere. Train derailments were up 13% last year as impacted community members continue to express concerns about the government response and long-term health issues.
3) Big Mac-onomics
Working on it: McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski pledged the fast food chain will focus on affordability during an earnings call amid critical press for prices. A New York Post report said a Big Mac combo meal was $18 at a Connecticut rest stop while $3 hash browns have gone viral.
Feeling pressure: Kempczinski's comments are a backtrack from last November, when he said price hikes were likely. He conceded eating at home has become more affordable for many as McDonald's failed to meet Wall Street's growth targets last quarter. The company has made menu tweaks to induce more sales.
Big picture: McDonald's is doing OK -- its CosMc's spinoff chain is popular -- and it is not the only fast food chain facing pushback on its prices. But it also has a unique place in American culture and could be a bellwether for society's feelings about the economy and inflation in an election year.
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The FDA has linked lead-tainted applesauce products to a cinnamon processor in Ecuador. The CDC reported 250 lead poisoning cases in 34 states in December (More)
A special counsel investigation into President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents after his vice presidency is complete. No criminal charges are anticipated, but Biden aides fear the findings could embarrass the president (More)
Five Marines are missing after a military helicopter went down in a mountain area near San Diego during a heavy snowstorm. The aircraft was reported overdue on a training mission from Nevada to California late Tuesday night (More)
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas' latest ceasefire offer, calling it delusional. Hamas called for a process to end the Gaza war, which Netanyahu said Israel will not agree to (More)
A Canadian police intelligence officer received a 14-year prison sentence for leaking secret information to law enforcement targets. Cameron Ortis was an official for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (More)
Mexico has overtaken China as the leading source of goods imported to the U.S. for the first time in over two decades. Mexico imported $475B last year to China's $427B (More)
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on former President Trump's Colorado ballot ban today at 10 a.m. ET. Trump is not expected to attend; the high court will stream audio of the hearing (More)
Nikki Haley said she will stay in the GOP presidential race after she lost to a no-candidates option in the Nevada primary. The state's caucus, which will hand all delegates to Trump, is today (More)
A super PAC supporting President Biden will target Trump's legal issues with a $40M ad campaign. Biden's campaign has refrained from such attacks due to optics concerns (More)
Business & Markets
Major indexes closed up yesterday. The S&P 500 is on the verge of cracking 5K points for the first time (Dow +0.40%, Nasdaq +0.95%, S&P 500 +0.82%).
Uber posted its first annual profit since it became a publicly traded company. The ride-share app beat analysts' revenue expectations in Q4 (More)
Tesla employees reportedly believe significant layoffs may be imminent. Managers recently designated critical positions; the electric vehicle manufacturer has about 140K workers (More)
Entertainment & Sports
Taylor Swift's legal team threatened to sue a college student who tracks her private jet on social media. Attorneys said it was tantamount to stalking and endangers Swift in a cease-and-desist letter (More)
Former Alabama football coach Nick Saban will join ESPN's College GameDay as an analyst next fall. Saban retired in January after winning seven national titles, six with the Crimson Tide (More)
Kevin Spacey will pay $1M to settle sexual harassment claims made by House of Cards' production company. The actor must also assist MRC's insurance claim regarding his exit from the Netflix show (More)
Feel Good: A pod of orca whales became trapped in sea ice off Japan's coast, and conditions prevented the country's coast guard from reaching them. But the whales thankfully managed to shake loose and swim off.
Job Hunt: If you are looking for a new gig, less can be more with the pesky cover letter. A former Disney recruiter says the focus should be succinctly explaining your value.
Take Note: No one wants to send back a dish while dining out at a restaurant, but it is bound to happen at some point. Follow these tips and stick to the right ways to handle an uncomfortable situation.
Go Figure: Tomato juice can kill salmonella and other bacteria. Research backs this up, including a recent study at Cornell. Antimicrobial peptides in the tomato penetrate bacterial membrane, thwarting the bugs.
Life Hack: Parents should never leave home without ... painter's tape? One mom says it is an invaluable tool to have while traveling with young children due to its utility, serving as everything from a label to a toy.
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.*
A trio of friends see their lie come to life — and then spin out of control — in Ricky Stanicky. The Amazon Prime film, which stars John Cena and Zac Efron, comes out in March.
Looking Ahead …
FIFA will require the temporary renaming of NFL stadiums hosting World Cup games in 2026. The governing body’s rules prohibit the promotion of non-FIFA sponsors. There are no plans to be clever, though; each venue will be referred to by city or region.
Will ESPN going DTC lead you to cancel your cable subscription?