3/16/2023: Moon Suits 2024
PLUS: Hunter Biden the Artful Dodger; More “Vanderpump” Drama; and Ye Avoids Battery Charges
Today is Thursday, March 16, 2023.
It is the 75th day of the year.
290 days remain.
WHAT’S ON TAP
NASA unveils a new generation of space suits and a diver takes a freezing cold swim to set a new world record. More in HIT LIST.
The House pursues records of HUNTER BIDEN’s art sales while the Treasury Department hands over essential bank records. More in THE SWAMP.
J.K. ROWLING says she has no regrets about defending her beliefs and JOE EXOTIC is running for president. More in SHOWBIZ.
PAT MCAFEE may be moving on from FanDuel and QUENTIN TARANTINO could soon retire from movie-making. More in CASTING CALL.
A lengthy Time magazine article exposes the obvious red flags flying over SAM BANKMAN-FRIED’s fraud, based on seven on-the-record interviews and documents reviewed by the publication.
WORTH REMEMBERING: One of SBF’s endearing qualities was his aw-shucks approach to wealth – that he was a whiz kid who effortlessly fundraised billions and could earn even more through facilitating cryptocurrency trades – and that he was keen on giving away much of the money he’d earn, as part of a movement called “effective altruism.”
This kind of philanthropy meant shoveling millions of dollars toward pet causes, and benefactors appear to have been all-to-willing to turn a blind eye to the warning signs in order to keep the spigot open.
Per Time’s reporting, two people who worked closely with SBF were warned that he “was untrustworthy, had inappropriate sexual relationships with subordinates, refused to implement standard business practices, and had been caught lying during his first months running Alameda, a crypto firm that was seeded by [effective altruism] investors, staffed by [effective altruists], and dedicating to making money that could be donated to [effective altruism] causes.”
It was also an open secret that SBF took shortcuts and fudged accounting numbers, especially when it came to mixing assets for trading – the core issue at the heart of FTX’s implosion. [via Time]
ByteDance – the Chinese company that makes TikTok – just got a major investment from the son of the founder of the United Arab Emirates, Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
HERE’S THE THING: Tahnoon is the UAE’s National Security Advisor – its chief spy. [via Bloomberg]
WORTH REMEMBERING: TikTok is already facing scrutiny for using the app to spy on American journalists and faces a regulatory ban in the US. Getting cozy with a money-flush royal who specializes in espionage creates a dangerous, unholy alliance.
A Czech man has broken a free-diving record without a wetsuit, plunging nearly 171 feet below the frozen surface of Switzerland’s Lake Sils, retrieving a sticker planted on the lakebed, and returning to the surface in a single breath. The water was slightly colder than the 40 degree air temperature.
40-year-old David Vencl accomplished the feat Tuesday in 1 minute 54 seconds — a time his coach says took a bit longer than expected.
When Vencl reached the surface, he spat out some blood, heaved a deep sigh, and popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
A post-dive medical evaluation showed Vencl was doing just fine. [via New York Post]
Archeologists have identified a dinosaur believed to have the longest neck ever discovered in an animal.
The Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum had a neck extending more than 15 meters — six times longer than a giraffe’s.
The species was common in modern-day China more than 160 million years ago. [via Sky News]
NASA has unveiled the design of the suits astronauts will wear when they once again set foot on the Moon in the next couple of years.
The black suit with orange and blue accent colors was designed by Axiom Space near Houston.
The suit promotes flexibility of movement and an expanded range of motion, plus a helmet design that maximizes visibility. [via NYT]
Artificial Intelligence technology seems to improve by the week. Following the release of Chat GPT-3 late last year, OpenAI is back with the new and improved version, GPT-4. They say it can ace Advanced Placement tests and even the LSAT. TechCrunch has all the details >
Blues singer BOBBY CALDWELL has died.
He passed away in his sleep on Tuesday night at his home in New Jersey, his rep said in a statement yesterday. While an exact cause of death was not shared, his rep said the singer had been battling several illnesses for years.
Caldwell is best known for his hit, “What You Won’t Do for Love.”
He was 71.
Former college football player and current XFL athletic trainer BEN SIEGFRIED has died.
He passed away last Thursday at a hotel he was staying at with one of the league’s teams. No cause of death was shared.
Siegfried was a three-sport college athlete.
He was only 22.
The Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Accountability wants to know who made money when HUNTER BIDEN sold his artwork through a New York gallery last year.
Committee Chairman JAMES COMER from Kentucky tells the New York Post, “it is deeply concerning that the President’s son continues to sell his amateurish work to anonymous purchasers for sky-high prices.”
WORTH NOTING: The exact prices of any sales have not yet been publicly disclosed, nor have the identities of any buyers.
MEANWHILE: The Treasury Department is handing over “suspicious activity reports” to the same committee. These reports are generated when suspicious amounts of money are transferred into the bank accounts of American citizens from questionable sources. So far, the Biden Administration has stonewalled these requests.
BY THE NUMBERS
📈 The DOW lost 280 points (0.87%) to close at 31,874 on Wednesday. The S&P lost 27 points (0.7%) to close at 3,891 and the NASDAQ added 5 points (0.052%) to close at 11,434.
🛢 WEST TEXAS INTERMEDIATE closed at $68; BRENT CRUDE at $74.
⛽ The national average price of a GALLON OF GAS was $3.46 on Wednesday.
₿ BITCOIN slid over 1% on Wednesday, trading around $24,500.
🛩 There were more than 4,920 FLIGHTS delayed within, into, or out of the United States on Wednesday and more than 250 such cancellations.
💰Friday night’s MEGA MILLIONS drawing will be for a $254 million jackpot or a $133.7 million cash payout.
BROOKE SHIELDS opened up about the sexual assault she experienced while in her 20s in the forthcoming Hulu documentary, “Pretty Baby.”
She also spoke about the traumatic event with People Magazine this week, saying “It’s taken me a long time to process it.”
The assault occurred right after Shields graduated from Princeton University in 1987. She was out to dinner with an unnamed movie executive, who she agreed to meet with in hopes that she would land a role. After dinner, she agreed to go back to his hotel to call a cab. It was at the hotel that she says she was attacked.
“I didn’t fight that much. I just absolutely froze. I thought [...] ‘Stay alive and get out,’” Shields shared.
“Pretty Baby” premieres on April 3. [via People]
In the latest episode of her podcast “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling,” the “Harry Potter” author discussed the reactions to her tweet supporting British researcher MAYA FORSTATER.
In the tweet, J.K. ROWLING called out the absurdity over Forstarter’s firing for comments that were interpreted as anti-trans. In defending the researcher, she herself was deemed anti-trans, igniting a firestorm.
Some called her a TERF, which stands for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” while others equated her thoughts and beliefs to Hitler and the Nazis.
Throughout it all, Rowling says she does not regret saying what she said.
“I stand by every word that I wrote there, but the question is, What is the truth? And I’m arguing against people who are literally saying sex is a construct,” she told listeners. [via Deadline]
RYAN REYNOLDS’ Mint Mobile is being bought by T-Mobile for a hefty $1.35 BILLION.
The acquisition is part of a larger deal with Mint’s parent company, Ka’ena Corp.
It is unknown how much Reynolds, who is a 25% stakeholder, will pocket from the buyout. He will remain a spokesperson for the company. [via TMZ]
“Tiger King” star JOE EXOTIC announced he is running for president in 2024 and hopes that the American people can look beyond the fact that he is serving a 21-year prison sentence.
The 60-year-old, who was convicted for his role in a murder-for-hire plot against his arch nemesis CAROLE BASKIN, issued a plea for support this week, saying, “Put aside that I am gay, that I am in prison for now, that I used drugs in the past, that I had more than one boyfriend at once and that Carole hates my guts.”
Many may recall, Exotic ran an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016. [via Daily Mail]
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Felons can run for President, though one has never made it to the Oval Office.
The “Vanderpump Rules” Season 10 reunion may be a bit tough for producers as RAQUEL LEVISS’ temporary restraining order against co-star SCHEANA SHAY means the two women cannot be in the same room.
Shay’s attorney called the order “sabotage,” telling Page Six that the reunion “can’t happen while this order is in place.”
One Bravo insider said Leviss may appear at the reunion via Zoom, while Shay will be there in person. This may solve some of the issues, but per the order the two women are not allowed to speak to each other, thus possibly affecting their appearance time.
Remember, Leviss filed the order after Shay allegedly punched her when news of her months-long affair with co-star TOM SANDOVAL broke. Shay has denied hitting Leviss.
The reunion show is scheduled to film on March 23. [via Page Six]
NIKKI and BRIE BELLA are retiring from the WWE and going back to their birth surname: Garcia.
The twins announced the move on their SiriusXM show, “The Nikki & Brie Show,” explaining that when their WWE contracts were up, they knew it was time to move on.
The girls entered the wrestling ring in 2007 as The Bella Twins and would often use their “Twin Magic” to win matches. They were featured on E!’s “Total Divas” and then “Total Bellas.” In 2020, they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. [via Page Six]
Sports analyst PAT MCAFEE may be looking at scaling things back when it comes to his self-titled talk show, including potentially ditching his four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel.
The New York Post reports that McAfee has had talks with other entities, including Amazon, Google/YouTube, Spotify and Apple. He also recently eliminated the FanDuel emblem from his show, which was watermarked on the screen during his show.
Another odd finding is that McAfee was absent from FanDuel’s Super Bowl ad, which featured former football player ROB GRONKOWSKI attempting a live field goal. McAfee was a former punter for the Indianapolis Colts, making him the obvious choice for the spot.
Only time will tell with this one. [via NY Post]
ON THAT NOTE: McAfee has a weekly spot dedicated to chats with Green Bay Packers QB AARON RODGERS, who said yesterday that he wants to play for the New York Jets next season.
FOLLOWING FAVRE: Rodgers going to the Jets is yet another linkage to his predecessor BRETT FAVRE, who left the Packers to join the Jets organization.
SPEAKING OF FAVRE: He is suing McAfee for defamation for discussing his Mississippi welfare scandal.
“The Movie Critic” could be the last film QUENTIN TARANTINO directs.
The filmmaker has long said that when he gets to 10 feature films or turns 60 he will be ready to retire from the movie biz. He turns 60 at the end of the month and already has nine films under his belt, including “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Jackie Brown,” “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” “Kill Bill Vol. 2,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “The Hateful Eight,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Very little is known about his forthcoming film, but many are speculating that it will be about iconic critic, essayist and novelist PAULINE KAEL, who Tarantino has long admired. [via Hollywood Reporter]
OSCAR ISSAC, ANDREW GARFIELD and MIA GOTH are in talks to star in GUILLERMO DEL TORO’s “Frankenstein” for Netflix.
Insiders told Deadline that everything is in the early stages, with del Toro still working on the script, but that Issac, Garfield and Goth are all on board.
Del Toro has been wanting to create a movie based on MARY SHELLEY’s iconic story for some time, the source added.
No word on what time period the story will be set in or who will take on the role of Frankenstein. [via Deadline]
JOHN MULANEY’s latest Netflix special, “John Mulaney: Baby J” is set to premiere on April 25.
The stand-up is Mulaney’s third, following “The Comeback Kid” and “Kid Gorgeous.” He also had a variety special titled “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch.” [via Deadline]
WORTH NOTING: “Baby J” is Mulaney’s first special since leaving rehab in 2021.
THE DAILY KARDASHOPUS
YE is off the hook on the battery charges he faced after grabbing and throwing a paparazzi’s cell phone.
According to TMZ, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that the phone suffered only “minor damage” and the pap decided not to press charges. These factors led to the charges being dropped.
Remember, back in January, an irate Ye took the photog’s phone and threw it after asking them to stop filming him and his kids. [via TMZ]
WE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS
PRINCE HARRY’s Nazi Halloween costume scandal will be featured in Season 6 of Netflix’s “The Crown.”
In 2005, Harry attended a friend’s “native and colonial” dress party with a uniform featuring a swastika armband. After photos from the party surfaced, people were outraged.
In response, the Royal Family and Harry, who was 20 at the time, issued an apology.
Fast forward to 2023 and Harry writes in his memoir, “Spare” that his sister-in-law PRINCESS CATHERINE suggested he wear the controversial outfit.
In the forthcoming season, LUTHER FORD plays Harry and ED MCVEY takes on the role of PRINCE WILLIAM. Season 6 is expected to drop this year. [via The Sun]
PAUL BURRELL, the late PRINCESS DIANA’s former butler, believes PRINCE HARRY will attend KING CHARLES’ Coronation “alone.”
“I don’t think Meghan’s brave or strong enough to be there -- she’d have to look in the eyes of the family she’s pushed under the bus,” he explained.
The Sussexes have not yet RSVP’d to the event. [via NY Post]
DAY OF THE YEAR
National Artichoke Day
National Panda Day
National No Selfie Day
National Lips Appreciation Day
National Freedom of Information Day
ON THIS DATE
1802 – Congress establishes the West Point Military Academy, located in West Point, New York.
It was formerly the site of an American fort designed to protect the Hudson River Valley from the British -- and was the fort Benedict Arnold planned to surrender as part of his treason.
1850 – Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "The Scarlet Letter" is first published.
Unlike many authors at the time, Hawthorne immediately became famous and a celebrity in certain circles.
He was even appointed American consul to England by President Franklin Pierce, who was his friend from college.
Hawthorne and his family spent three years in England. He later died in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
1978 – The Amoco tanker "Cadiz" wrecks off the coast of Portsall, France.
High winds and turbulent seas pushed the ship into the coast as its steering mechanism failed.
68 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean. It became for a while the largest oil spill of its kind.
1988 – President Reagan orders 3,000 American troops to Honduras to keep Nicaraguan troops out of the country.
Meanwhile, the Nicaraguans denied ever entering the disputed territory. The troops didn't stay long, and the communist Sandinistas remained in power.
2003 – Ricky Craven edges Kurt Busch for the closest finish in NASCAR history.
Craven finished just .002 seconds ahead of Bush, a review showed.
2005 – Actor Robert Blake is acquitted of murdering his wife.
The trial lasted three months in LA Superior Court.
The prosecution produced two drug addicts who said Blake approached them to kill his wife, but the defense was able to discredit their testimonies.
Two years later Blake was found guilty in a civil trial, and ordered to pay $30 million in damages to her family.
2016 - American college student Otto Warmbier is sentenced to 15 years hard labor for trying to steal a political poster in Pyongyang, North Korea.
He would be released 17 months later in a comatose state, which North Korean officials said was a result of contracting botulism. According to brain scans, Otto had suffered extensive loss of brain tissue, consistent with a cardiopulmonary event, but doctors could not figure out what caused it.
He would pass away in June 2017 after his parents requested his tube be removed. He was 22.
2020 - The Dow Jones loses nearly 3,000 points in a single day of trading, making for the largest point drop ever, and the second-largest percentage drop, at 12.93%.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - baseball player - 24
Tyrel Jackson Williams - actor, “Lab Rats” & “Pants on Fire” - 26
Ajiona Alexus - actress, “13 Reasons Why” & “Empire” - 27
Camilo - pop singer - 29
Blake Griffin - basketball player - 34
Jhene Aiko - R&B singer - 35
Alexandra Daddario - actress, “Baywatch” & “San Andreas” - 37
Lauren Graham - actress, “Gilmore Girls” & “Parenthood” - 56
Flavor Flav - rapper - 64
Victor Garber - actor, “Titanic” & “Legends of Tomorrow” - 74
Born On This Date
Jerry Lewis - actor & comedian - 1926 (d. 2017)
Georg Ohm - physicist & mathematician, Ohm’s Law - 1789 (d. 1854)
James Madison - 4th POTUS & Father of the Constitution - 1751 (d. 1836)
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