1/17/2023: “Most Wanted” Mobster Arrested
PLUS: Global EV Market Thrives in 2023; Graceland Stays In The Family; and BAFTAs Side With Will
Today is Tuesday, January 17, 2023.
It is the 17th day of the year.
348 days remain.
We’re starting to tease daily content on Twitter, @morning_martini, beginning with a thread of highlights from the day’s report that gets posted right around 6:00 am Central every weekday. If you haven’t yet please give us a follow and the occasional retweet so we can continue to build and grow.
WHAT’S ON TAP
A former FTX executive unloads on what it’s like working for disgraced crypto-fraud SAM BANKMAN-FRIED and Italian officials nab a mob boss who’s been on the lam for three decades. More in HIT LIST.
The White House won’t turn over visitor logs from President JOE BIDEN’s Delaware residence – because there aren’t any. More in THE SWAMP.
BRITNEY SPEARS’ husband addressed her “manic” behavior over the weekend and MARIE OSMOND says all her hard-earned cash won’t be going to her kids. More in SHOWBIZ.
BEN AFFLECK has signed a mega-deal with one of his favorite go-to coffee chains and another “Southern Charm” star is out. More in CASTING CALL.
YE’s legal team is forced to get creative. More in KARDASH.
A former FTX executive who got out of the company weeks before it self-destructed has unloaded on his time there in a lengthy Twitter thread.
BRETT HARRISON was recruited by SAM BANKMAN-FRIED during the spring of 2021 to build out FTX’s operations in the United States. The first few months were productive; Harrison described his work as a “dream job” – until SBF got involved. When Harrison wanted to put in clear legal separation between the US and global FTX businesses to avoid the exact kind of crash that happened, SBF pushed back hard. Harrison writes, “I saw in that early conflict his total insecurity and intransigence when his decisions were questioned, his spitefulness, and the volatility of his temperament.”
He adds there was “tremendous pressure” to never question the boss. When Harrison wrote a formal memo a few months later outlining his unaddressed concerns, he started to get pushed out – with prejudice: “I was threatened on Sam’s behalf that I would be fired and that Sam would destroy my professional reputation. I was instructed to formally retract what I’d written and to deliver an apology to Sam that had been drafted for me.” [via @BrettHarrison88]
Electric vehicles accounted for about 10% of global new car sales in 2023, a first for the EV market. Buyers in Europe and China contributed to most of the growth; in the United States, just over 5% of new vehicle sales were electric.
The head of Volkswagen in China tells The Wall Street Journal that one-fourth of their sales there are for plug-in cars, and this year will likely be one-in-three.
WORTH NOTING: While post-pandemic recession fears and cash crunches caused overall new vehicle sales to decline in the US and Europe, China’s new car market grew by 4% in 2022. And while BMW saw its overall sales decline, its sale of EVs doubled. [via WSJ]
BUT WAIT: While the federal government has offered millions in tax incentives to buy EVs, Wyoming’s legislature is trying to end their sale outright by 2035.
A proposed resolution notes that the state’s oil and gas industry has provided countless jobs and funds the state’s operations through taxes. It adds that having no infrastructure for charging EVs makes their widespread adoption unfeasible.
WORTH NOTING: Even the bill’s authors acknowledge this is a symbolic gesture, and note the language merely encourages residents to buy gas-powered cars. [via Engadget]
Notorious mob boss Matteo Messina Denaro had evaded Italian authorities since 1993, earning him the notorious title as Italy’s most wanted man – until now.
Officials announced the arrest Monday. Denaro – who at one point had the insidious-sounding nickname “Diabolik,” named for an Italian comic book character – was nabbed outside a clinic in Palermo, Italy, where he was getting treated for cancer under an assumed name. He was sporting a Franck Muller watch worth an estimated 35,000 Euro.
GET A LOAD OF THIS: His illness ultimately led to his capture. Through monitoring the conversations of people connected to Denaro, authorities knew he had cancer. This led them to keep tabs on a database that records individuals seeking specific cancer treatments. Ultimately, they narrowed it down to a few locations based on Denaro’s suspected aliases.
TikTok’s brass is scrambling to reform the app’s operations in the United States to avoid an all-out ban. While many state governments have already forbidden using the video creation app on state-owned devices and networks, TikTok continues to negotiate with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US – a standing task force that includes members from Executive Cabinet-level departments and agencies.
The gist of the reforms include restructuring TikTok’s operations in the United States into a separate company independently operated from Beijing-based parent company ByteDance. American regulators and data companies – namely Oracle – would have a transparent view into how TikTok manages user data to avoid concerns over spying and shoveling individual and bulk data to the Chinese government.
BUT WAIT: As The Wall Street Journal reports: “TikTok also will likely need approval from Beijing for any structures that involve the company’s content-recommendation algorithms.”
IN OTHER WORDS: The commies still would have total approval over any deal to keep TikTok operating in the United States, anyway. [via WSJ]
Officials in Nepal announced Monday that no survivors have been found amid the wreckage of a Yeti Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday. As of Monday evening, the remains of three passengers were located within a 300-meter-deep gorge that will be difficult to access and recover.
Both “black boxes” – the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder – have been found.
On Monday, Nepal declared a national day of mourning.
SPOOKY: BBC News reports that the husband of the flight’s co-pilot died in a plane crash 16 years ago — and that his death motivated her to become a pilot herself. [via BBC]
TERRIFYING: TMZ on Sunday posted what appears to be a video from inside the plane before the crash by an unwitting passenger, who appeared to be filming the final descent. A few moments of calm precede an explosion and screams, before the camera films face-up amid the wreckage. This footage has not been verified. Watch with caution, it is very unsettling > [via TMZ]
Top 5 Songs on iTunes:
Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”
Bizarrap & Shakira, “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53”
TAEYANG, “Vibe (ft. Jimin of BTS)
Sam Smith & Kim Petras, “Unholy”
Taylor Swift, “Anti-Hero”
Top 5 Songs on Spotify:
SZA, “Kill Bill”
RAYE & 070 Shake, “Escapism.”
Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”
Metro Boomin, The Weeknd & 21 Savage, “Creepin’”
Sam Smith & Kim Petras, “Unholy”
Former “American Idol” contestant CJ HARRIS has died.
He passed away Sunday night after suffering a heart attack, according to a statement from his family.
He was only 31.
Italian actress GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA has died.
She passed away Monday at a hospital in Rome. It is unknown what caused her death, though insiders told TMZ that she had been receiving treatment for an unknown medical condition for some time.
Lollobrigida appeared in several films opposite HUMPHREY BOGART, ERROL FLYNN, FRANK SINATRA, and other leading men of the 1950’s and ‘60s.
She was 95.
Hockey player GINO ODJICK has died.
The former New York Islanders player passed away after suffering a heart attack at a Vancouver medical clinic, according to the Montreal Gazette.
He was only 52.
On Sunday, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff RON KLAIN asking for visitor logs of anyone who visited President JOE BIDEN’s private Delaware residence.
The demand came as news broke over the weekend that yet another tranche of classified documents were found in Biden’s private study at the house, in addition to those previously disclosed that were kept in boxes in his garage, in addition to the other ones that were kept at the Chinese-government-bankrolled Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC.
NOW: The White House says there are no visitor logs for Biden’s Delaware home.
WORTH ASKING: If the house is protected by the Secret Service, how does Biden’s security team verify the identity of visitors as they come and go, especially those who aren’t members of the immediate family also under their protection? Has no one outside of the family ever visited? If so, why not say so?
LAST WEEK: The mother of HUNTER BIDEN’s estranged four-year-old daughter petitioned an Arkansas court to change the girl’s last name to Biden. As she noted in the filing, if the First Family wouldn’t acknowledge the girl, at least having a name “synonymous with being well educated, successful, financially acute, and politically powerful” might give her an advantage.
NOW: Hunter’s lawyers are asking the court to stop the name change completely.
BY THE NUMBERS
📈 Markets were closed Monday in observance of the MLK holiday. On Friday, The DOW added 112 points (0.33%) to close at 34,302. The S&P added 15 points (0.4%) to close at 3,999 while the NASDAQ added 78 points (0.71%) to close at 11,079.
🛢 WEST TEXAS INTERMEDIATE closed at $78; BRENT CRUDE at $84.
⛽ The national average price of a GALLON OF GAS was $3.30 on Monday.
₿ BITCOIN surged again Monday, adding more than $300 and trading around $21,180.
🛩 There were more than 3,380 flights delayed within, into, or out of the United States on Monday and more than 200 such cancellations.
💰A winning MEGA MILLIONS ticket for the $1.35 BILLION jackpot was drawn in Maine on Friday, January 13. Tonight’s drawing will be for a $20 million jackpot or a $10.7 million cash payout.
SAM ASGHARI says all the reports about his wife, BRITNEY SPEARS, having some sort of “manic episode” at a restaurant last weekend are not true.
Speaking to TMZ photogs yesterday, Asghari says Spears may have appeared “erratic” but she was just upset about all the patrons taking photos and videos of her.
As for him leaving the establishment without her, he says that was only to go get the car. [via TMZ]
Following the untimely death of LISA MARIE PRESLEY, the only child of the late ELVIS PRESLEY, many were curious what would happen to Graceland.
People Magazine reported Monday that the property will stay in the family, and be handed down to Lisa Marie’s three daughters, Riley, Harper and Finley.
The property, which includes Elvis’ former home, was passed down to Lisa Marie after The King died in 1977. She was only nine at the time, so the estate went into a trust, which dissolved when she turned 25.
As previously reported, Lisa Marie will be buried at Graceland, next to her son Benjamin. [via People]
MARIE OSMOND is defending her decision not to leave an inheritance for her children.
The 63-year-old previously said that all of her hard-earned cash will go to charity when she passes, because she believes that it would be a “disservice” to her children if she were to give it to them.
“The one most important gift you can give your children is the ability to work,” she told UsWeekly last week, doubling down on her decision.
While the thought may come off as Osmond being quite the curmudgeon, she told the outlet that she does help her kids out with big purchases from time to time, and also spoils her grandchildren. [via UsWeekly]
“Law & Order” stars ICE-T and CHRISTOPHER MELONI are shooting down rumors that they have beef with one another.
On Monday, Ice shared an email on Twitter that he received from The National Enquirer asking if he would like to comment on the alleged rift. In response, both actors slammed the publication, and shared that not only do they get along on the show, but they are friends in real life too.
THE RUMOR: The Enquirer claimed that Ice was jealous of the attention Meloni was getting after returning to the “Law & Order” franchise following his 10-year hiatus.
RECAP: Meloni recently reprised his role as Detective Elliot Stabler in “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” after 12 seasons on “Law & Order: SVU,” opposite Ice-T. [via TMZ]
KEVIN SPACEY was honored with a lifetime achievement award yesterday from the National Cinema Museum in Turin, Italy.
During his emotional acceptance speech, Spacey thanked the National Museum for “having the le palle to invite [him],” using the Italian word for a part -- or parts -- of a male organ that is often synonymous with being brave.
While in town, Spacey also taught a master class and introduced a screening of his 1999 film, “American Beauty.”
Some fans who were on hand to hear Spacey speak told the Associated Press that they felt he had been “unfairly ostracized” in the media over allegations of sexual assault. [via Associated Press]
SPEAKING OF THE ALLEGATIONS: The award comes just days after Spacey pleaded not guilty to seven charges of sexual assault in the UK. He is scheduled to go to trial for those and five other charges in June.
WNBA player MAYA MOORE is retiring.
The 33-year-old Minnesota Lynx player announced her retirement on “Good Morning America” yesterday.
During her career, Moore earned multiple All-Star honors, led her team to four championships and played on the US Olympic team, taking home gold medals in 2012 and 2016. [via Good Morning America]
Actor JEREMY RENNER is “missing” his snowy abode as he continues to recover from injuries he sustained after being run over by his snowplow.
“Missing my happy place,” he captioned a photo of his Lake Tahoe home.
It has been two weeks since the scary accident occurred. The latest update shared by Renner’s physicians was that he is “making positive progress” but remains in the ICU in “critical but stable condition.” [via Fox News]
BEN AFFLECK has signed a multi-year, eight-figure deal with Dunkin’ Donuts.
The news comes after the actor was spotted filming what appeared to be an ad for the donut and coffee chain last week.
Sources close to the deal told RadarOnline.com that the ad will air during the Super Bowl next month. He will also appear in other promos for the company, the insider added.
The collaboration makes perfect sense as Affleck is often spotted out and about with a Dunkin’ coffee in hand. [via RadarOnline.com]
Another “Southern Charm” star is leaving the show ahead of Season 9.
NAOMIE OLINDO, who returned last season after taking a multi-season break, is ready to leave reality TV for good, a Bravo insider told RadarOnline.com.
The news comes after last week’s shocking announcement that KATHRYN DENNIS, who has been with the show since its inception, was also out for the upcoming season.
An official update on who will be returning has not yet been released by Bravo. [via RadarOnline.com]
SPEAKING OF KATHRYN DENNIS: Multiple outlets reported this week that she has joined OnlyFans after getting axed from “Southern Charm.”
Sunday night’s Critics Choice Awards drew in an abysmal 900,000 viewers.
That is a decrease from 2022, when 1.1 million tuned in, according to Nielsen.
The dip tracks with other awards shows, who have been steadily losing viewers over the past few years. [via Deadline]
THE DAILY KARDASHOPUS
KIM KARDASHIAN is still on her social justice crusade.
Last week she met with several inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent, California, who are in solitary confinement. Insiders told TMZ that she spoke with them about how their time behind bars affects their mental health and well-being.
WHAT’S MORE: Kim was joined by actor TOBEY MAGUIRE (“Spiderman”) and producer SCOTT BUDNICK (“The Hangover”), as well as a full camera crew. Budnick previously produced a doc about teens who get locked up, and according to TMZ, he is currently working on another one. [via TMZ]
YE’s legal team is getting creative in their efforts to serve him with notice ending their representation of him.
While the rapper continues to evade them, a spokesperson for Greenburg Trauring, LLP says the company is looking to use “alternative means” to reach him, which includes potentially putting ads in two Los Angeles-based newspapers, with their intent to end the working relationship.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, Ye has been MIA for weeks, going so far as to deactivate a cell phone number that his legal team says they used to get in touch with him. News broke over the weekend Ye might have even gotten married. [via TMZ]
WE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS
PRINCE HARRY and MEGHAN MARKLE were “not welcome” at the 2023 British Academy of Film and Television Awards Tea Party over the weekend.
A consultant for the organization told The Sun that given the fact that PRINCE WILLIAM is the president of BAFTA, “it was a terrible idea [to invite them]” with all their recent drama.
MEANWHILE: A spokesperson for the Royal Family, specifically Will, declined to comment on the story, while a BAFTA rep said Harry and Meghan’s “attendance was not discussed whatsoever.” [via The Sun]
DAY OF THE YEAR
National Bootlegger’s Day
Benjamin Franklin Day
National Kid Inventors’ Day
Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day
Cable Car Day
ON THIS DATE
1781 – In the historic Battle of Cowpens, American regulars and patriot militiamen demolish a Red Coat army, led by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton.
Brigadier General Daniel Morgan was the mastermind behind the operation. He ordered the militia to fight with the British, but to flee the front lines after firing 2 rounds. Tarleton took the initial retreat for defeat, and pursued the militia further, only to find a well-armored and well-defended American Army waiting for him.
Tarleton escaped, but many of his troops did not.
1916 – Some golf pros and amateurs get together at the Taplow Club in New York City, to form a group that would become the Professional Golfers Association.
Rodman Wanamaker, the son of the founder of Macy’s Department Stores, organized the meeting. He believed that golf should be recognized as an official sport, in order to bolster interest across the country.
The PGA would officially be established on April 10 that year.
In September, James Barnes would take home the first national golf championship, including a trophy and gift of $2,580.
1961 – President Eisenhower addresses the country for the last time as Commander-In-Chief.
In the address, he coined the phrase "military-industrial complex” to describe the iron triangle of power and influence that accompanies the politics and bureaucracy behind building a strong national defense.
1966 – A B-52 bomber carrying 4 hydrogen bombs collides with a jet tanker over the Mediterranean.
Three hydrogen bombs land in a small town, and the other one crashes into the sea.
None of the bombs were armed, but some of the radioactive material in two of them leaked into crops and fields.
More than 1400 tons of radioactive soil was shipped back to the U.S. for proper disposal.
1984 – The Supreme Court rules it's legal for owners of a VCR to record a TV show or movie and watch it later in the privacy of their own home.
Universal Studios alleged it was copyright infringement, and had sued Sony, who was the leading seller of VCRs at the time.
Universal said such an advanced device would wreak havoc on the entertainment industry, allowing people to enjoy programming, but on their own schedule.
Good thing that problem was resolved.
1994 – An Arkansas state clerk alleges that President Clinton sexually harassed her while he was Governor.
Her name was Paula Jones, the precursor to Monica Lewinsky. It was the first of several major scandals to rock the Clinton White House, including the Whitewater scandal and accusations of cronyism in who got fired in the White House travel agency.
2012 – LeBron James becomes the youngest player in NBA history to record 20,000 career points.
James’ 28 years, 17 days surpassed the previous record holder, Kobe Bryant’s 29 years, 122 days.
2017 – President Obama commutes WikiLeaks disclosure Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence from 35 to 7 years.
The transgender U.S. Army private, born Bradley Manning, was charged with leaking diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy group.
FYI - Obama granted more commutations than any other resident in the nation’s history.
Enzo Fernandez - soccer player - 22
Jake Paul - YouTube star & MMA fighter - 26
Lucy Boynton - actress, “Sense and Sensibility” & “Miss Potter” - 29
Awsten Knight - rock singer, The Waterparks - 31
Willa Fitzgerald - actress, “Scream” & “Royal Pains” - 32
Calvin Harris - DJ - 39
Dwayne Wade - basketball player - 41
Ray J - rapper - 42
Zooey Deschanel - actress, “New Girl” & “Almost Famous” - 43
Kid Rock - rock singer - 52
Michelle Obama - former First Lady - 59
Jim Carrey - actor, “The Mask” & “The Truman Show” - 61
Steve Harvey - comedian - 66
Maury Povich - TV show host, “Maury” - 84
James Earl Jones - actor, voice of Darth Vader - 92
Born On This Date
Muhammad Ali - boxer - 1942 (d. 2016)
Eartha Kitt - pop singer - 1927 (d. 2008)
Betty White - actress, “Golden Girls” - 1922 (d. 2021)
Benjamin Franklin - Founding Father & inventor - 1706 (d. 1790)
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