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WWII 'Ghost Army' Is Finally Honored

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Friday. If you got a ceramic Starbucks mug for Christmas, be careful before you use it again. Over 440K have been recalled following reports they overheat and break, causing burns and other injuries. Be safe and have a great weekend!

In Today’s Brief

  • Mississippi: Cops sentenced in torture scheme

  • Somalia: Sea pirates active again

  • Menendez: Re-election half-measure

  • Hermes: Birkin antitrust lawsuit

  • Downton Abbey: Third movie planned

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Secret agents

The "Ghost Army" of World War II has gotten its due after decades in the shadows.

  • The story: The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops carried out numerous deception missions across the European Theater in 1944-45. Inflatable tanks, fake radio chatter, impersonations of military leaders -- all were among the tools used to confuse the Nazis.

  • Top secret: The British-led Operation Fortitude misdirection prior to D-Day was well known. The Ghost Army's activities were classified until the 1990s, however. That prevented many veterans involved in the operations from being acknowledged. Until now.

  • At long last: Three of the seven known living Ghost Army members were given the Congressional Gold Medal -- the highest legislative honor in the country -- in a ceremony at the Capitol, 75 years after they helped liberate Europe.

2) Green (bubble) envy

The Department of Justice is taking on Apple.

  • What happened: The DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant yesterday. The government alleged Apple has created an effective smartphone monopoly, driving its valuation at the expense of consumers and its industry.

  • Go deeper: It's not just phones and Apple Watches. The DOJ said it believes other Apple offerings, like FaceTime, the Safari browser and iMessage are anti-competitive. And the government did not rule out breaking up the company if it wins.

  • Big picture: Apple has already fought (and lost) antitrust battles in the European Union. This lawsuit could further change how it does business. President Joe Biden's administration continues to pick high-profile legal battles on the antitrust front.

3) Medical breakthrough

Surgeons in Boston have performed the first transplant of a genetically modified pig's kidney into a living person.

  • What happened: A Massachusetts man with end-stage kidney disease received the organ last Saturday. He is recovering well after the four-hour procedure and should be discharged this weekend; the man had a human kidney transplant five years ago, but it has since failed.

  • Catch up: Biotech companies have begun cloning DNA-altered pigs to create transplant organs the human body will not reject. Doctors have had success sustaining kidneys and livers in brain-dead people and have had people live several weeks with transplanted hearts. This case is a major step forward for the technology.

  • Big picture: There are about 103K people nationally who need an organ and close to 20 die every day. Using pigs and other animals could address that need. But ethicists and researchers say there are many questions that still must be answered.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Six former Mississippi law enforcement officers were sentenced to over 130 combined years in prison for torturing two Black men. The sentences ranged from 40 years to 10; the crimes were found to be racially motivated (More)

  • New York Attorney General Leticia James registered former President Donald Trump's civil fraud judgment in Westchester County. The move suggests she may seize Trump National Golf Course if he does not pay a $450M bond by Monday (More)

  • Police say shipping CEO Angela Chao's BAC was three times the legal limit when she had a car accident and drowned on a Texas ranch. Chao was the sister-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (More)

World News

  • Somali pirates have begun menacing ships in the Indian Ocean after years of dormancy. The surge appears to be a byproduct of the international community's focus on the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea (More)

  • Three London Clinic workers were suspended for allegedly accessing Princess Kate's private medical records. King Charles' medical records were not compromised in the data breach (More)

  • Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong has resigned after less than a year in office. Anti-corruption campaigns have roiled the country's communist government; Thuong is the second president to step down in as many years (More)

Campaign News

  • New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez will not seek the state’s Democratic nomination, but left the door open to mount an independent re-election run. Menendez faces federal bribery and obstruction charges (More)

  • Mark Cuban attended a Biden campaign fundraising event in Dallas. The billionaire and Shark Tank star previously backed GOP candidate Nikki Haley, but said he will now support the president (More)

  • Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign has over $1M in private security debts. Kennedy has made repeated pleas for Secret Service protection, but it has not been granted (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes finished the day up as all marked record-high closes. The Dow Jones jumped over 250 points (Dow +0.68%, Nasdaq +0.20%, S&P 500 +0.32%).

  • Luxury brand Hermes faces a federal class-action antitrust lawsuit. The filing alleges the company unlawfully restricts the ability to purchase Birkin handbags (More)

  • Reddit made a strong debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The social media platform closed its first day of trading over $50 and was as high as almost $58; its initial IPO price was $34 (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Actress Imelda Staunton told BBC Radio there will be a third and final Downton Abbey movie. The British television drama ran for five seasons; its last film adaptation was in 2022 (More)

  • Oakland upset Kentucky to highlight the first day of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Duquesne also surprised BYU (More)

  • M. Emmet Walsh died at 88. The prolific veteran character actor was known for film and TV roles in Blade RunnerSlap Shot and The Bob Newhart Show, among others; he also narrated Ken Burns' Baseball and The Civil War documentaries (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Real Hero: A woman was lounging on an Australian beach when she saw a panicked swimmer return from the water. She ran in and saved three unconscious men from drowning.

  • Not Good: Hackers figured out how to open millions of digital hotel room locks. It could take months or years to fix the vulnerability.

  • Wild Hair: A British toddler's hair is too unruly to tame. It's because she has a rare condition people believe may have afflicted Albert Einstein.

  • Best Friend: There are just some places and trips where you cannot bring your dog. That's why luxury pet hotels are becoming popular.

  • Life Hack: It is officially spring. Here are some tips to get going as the seasons turn.

  • 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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Looking Ahead …

The solar eclipse on April 8 will only last about four and half minutes. But it could still strain the national electrical grid in that short period.

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