3/29/2023: SBF x CCP
PLUS: Russia on the Brink; 380 Words or Less; and Ye Needs to Do More
Today is Wednesday, March 29. 2023.
It is the 88th day of the year.
277 days remain.
WHAT’S ON TAP
More trouble for SAM BANKMAN-FRIED for getting cozy with the commies and an official shrimp designation. More in HIT LIST.
Where’s President JOE BIDEN’s unity agenda when he needs it? Maybe it’s in THE SWAMP.
The Washington Commanders may soon have new owners and ROBERT DOWNEY JR’s A.B.C. gum is for sale on eBay. More in SHOWBIZ.
SUGE KNIGHT is working on a new TV series from behind bars and MIKE FLEISS is saying good-bye to the “Bachelor” franchise. More in CASTING CALL.
Add “bribing the Chinese Communist Party” to the list of crimes SAM BANKMAN-FRIED now faces.
A new indictment filed on Tuesday accuses SBF of sending $40 million in cryptocurrency to Chinese officials, in an attempt to unfreeze a crypto account they had previously shut down. The account in question had more than $1 BILLION in crypto assets.
IT GETS WORSE: The alleged $40 million bribe was wired from Alameda Research, implying that customer deposits were used in part to finance the payoff. [via Reuters]
Russia is staring down economic peril, just over a year after its invasion of Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reports.
After an international coalition shut off Russia’s economy from the global marketplace, the ruble for a while held steady. But since November, it’s down 20% against the dollar, and the labor force has shrunk as an increasing number of recruits have been drafted into front line service. [via WSJ]
BUT WAIT: The Journal report frets that Russia’s budget deficit was $34 billion in February – or about 1.5% of its gross domestic product.
WORTH NOTING: The United States’ deficit-to-GDP ratio is nearly 6%. So if that’s any indicator of economic trouble …. Hold on tight.
The state of Utah has adopted an official arthropod – which is apparently a thing in some parts.
Earlier this month the governor signed a bill making the Brine shrimp the state’s official crustacean. The tiny animal has been found abundantly in Utah’s Great Salt Lake, but play a crucial role in the state’s economy when it comes to harvesting their eggs, the Associated Press reports.
WORTH NOTING: Utah has a knack for designating obscure official symbols, including an official dinosaur (the Utahraptor) and the state cooking pot (a Dutch oven). [via CNN]
Apple is throwing its hat into the ring of the burgeoning “buy now, pay later” scheme, integrating finance options for small purchases into its existing Apple Pay feature.
The new feature will allow select buyers to finance the cost of items between $50 and $1,000, breaking down payments into four installments over six weeks.
The official marketing language says applying for the mini-loans has no impact on the user’s credit, but The Verge points out that the fine print reveals that the loan and payment history “may be reported to credit bureaus and impact their credit.”
WORTH NOTING: Maybe if you can’t afford to spend $1,000, you don’t need the $1,000 item. Or, like, buy it used or something.
Apple says it’s rolling the feature out randomly over the coming weeks. [via The Verge]
Three years after covid lockdowns and unending pandemic outrage, researchers say they’ve created a molecule that is effective in preventing infection from all variants of Covid-19.
The research team at the University of Helsinki says the molecule isolates and disables the so-called “spike protein” that’s the culprit behind covid’s infectiousness. The molecule is best administered through a nasal spray. They say it’s even effective a few hours after exposure. [via SciTechDaily]
WORTH NOTING: Researchers are hopeful that the science behind this nasal spray can help nip a future disease outbreak in the bud – if world governments let it.
Top 5 Fiction & Nonfiction Books Currently on the New York Times Best Sellers List:
“I Will Find You,” Harlan Coben
“Hello Beautiful,” Ann Napolitano
“It Starts With Us,” Colleen Hoover
“It Ends With Us,” Colleen Hoover
“Daisy Jones & The Six,” Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Saved,” Benjamin Hall
“Spare,” Prince Harry
“Paris,” Paris Hilton
“The Courage To Be Free,” Ron DeSantis
“The Body Keeps the Score,” Bessel van der Kolk
LGBTQ activist WALTER COLE had died.
He passed away on March 23 from natural causes in Portland, Oregon, according to a Facebook post from his nightclub Darcelle XV Showplace. Cole, who used to perform in drag under the name Darcelle XV, was the world’s oldest drag queen.
He was 92.
President JOE BIDEN and House Speaker KEVIN MCCARTHY apparently have a frosty relationship – imperiling hopes for a deal over the debt ceiling in coming weeks.
NBC News reports that Biden didn’t let the Speaker know about its plans over the Silicon Valley Bank bailout, and that McCarthy instead went through Fed chair JEROME POWELL and Treasury Secretary JANET YELLEN for details.
In a letter on Tuesday, McCarthy accused Biden of being missing in action; the White House says McCarthy needs an alternative budget. [via NBC News]
WORTH ASKING: Biden campaigned on unity. If he can’t bring the Speaker of the House to the negotiating table, has he failed on this promise?
ARRESTWATCH: The grand jury considering charges against former President DONALD TRUMP is not expected to make any decision this week.
EDITORS’ NOTE: We’re going to put the daily tracking of this to bed until, and if, anything happens.
BY THE NUMBERS
📈 The DOW lost 37 points (0.12%) to close at 32,394 on Tuesday. The S&P lost 6 points (0.16%) to close at 3,971 and the NASDAQ lost 52 points (0.45%) to close at 11,716.
🛢 WEST TEXAS INTERMEDIATE closed at $73; BRENT CRUDE at $78.
⛽ The national average price of a GALLON OF GAS was $3.43 on Tuesday.
₿ BITCOIN was up 0.3%, trading around $27,300.
🛩 There were nearly 7,700 FLIGHTS delayed within, into, or out of the United States on Tuesday and more than 265 such cancellations.
💰Tonight’s POWERBALL drawing will be for a $132 million jackpot or a $71.4 million cash payout.
NBA legend MAGIC JOHNSON, 76ers owner JOSH HARRIS and billionaire MITCHELL RALES have jointly submitted a $6 BILLION offer to purchase the Washington Commanders football team.
If current team owner DAN SYNDER accepts the offer, the deal would break the previous record sale of an NFL franchise, which was set last year when ROB WALTON bought the Denver Broncos for $4.65 BILLION.
Also, this means JEFF BEZOS and JAY-Z, who have been interested in snagging the team are out of luck. [via TMZ]
MARK HAMILL’s voice is featured on an Ukrainian air defense app that urges people to take cover during a Russian attack.
On the app, called Air Alert, Hamill says, “Attention. Air raid alert. Don’t be careless. Your overconfidence is your weakness.” He also tells users when the alert is over, adding at the end, “May the Force be with you.” [via People]
WORTH NOTING: Hamill voices the English-language version of the app.
Actor GEOFFREY GIULIANO says he was assaulted and denied service at a McDonald’s inside the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam because he is an American.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the “Squid Game” star said the incident happened on New Year’s Eve during a layover on his trip from Portugal to Thailand.
Giuliano, who is a diabetic, said he went to the McDonald’s to grab some food before his 15-hour flight. While waiting to order, he claims he was booted from the line and denied service. When he wouldn’t leave, he said a manager from the eatery pushed him out of the line.
Now, the 69-year-old said he plans to pursue legal action. [via Daily Mail]
WORTH NOTING: Giuliano played the iconic McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald in TV ads in the 1980s.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal states that KEANU REEVES only says 380 words (103 lines of dialogue) during the nearly three-hour-long “John Wick: Chapter 4” film.
The outlet states that the titular character, played by Reeves, says more in the “2.5 minute [trailer] than he does in the first 25 minutes of the movie itself.”
Screenwriter MICHAEL FINCH told the publication, “It’s a shock when you work with him how dedicated he is to not speaking.” [via WSJ]
WORTH NOTING: Reeves’ longest run of words in the movie is the sentence: “You and I left a good life behind a long time ago, my friend.”
A piece of gum chewed up and spit out by ROBERT DOWNEY JR is currently for sale on eBay.
The A.B.C. gum was picked up off the ground after actor/producer JON FAVREAU’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony at which Downey Jr. spoke.
As for how the seller plans to authenticate the gum, he told TMZ that the buyer can have it tested for the actor’s DNA; though it may be tough to get a sample from the man himself for comparison. [via TMZ]
JEREMY RENNER will attend the Los Angeles premiere of his Disney+ reality series, “Rennervations” next month.
The appearance will be his first since being run over by his 1,400 pound snowplow in January.
The event will feature a screening of the series, a live Q&A session and an “immersive block party,” according to a press release. [via People]
MARION “Suge” KNIGHT wants to turn his life story into a TV series.
Insiders told TMZ that the currently-incarcerated Death Row Records co-founder and his brother BRIAN BROWN, are collaborating on the project, which will start with Suge’s pre-music backstory as a kid growing up in Compton.
Suge is “very hands-on” when it comes to casting, especially for the role of TUPAC SHAKUR, who was signed to Death Row Records.
For those unfamiliar, Suge is currently serving a 28-year sentence for murder. [via TMZ]
“Billions” star DAN SODER let it slip that the upcoming seventh season of the Showtime show will be its last.
He revealed the news during an appearance on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Football Night,” before adding, “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that.”
When asked by Deadline if the news was true, Showtime had no comment. [via Deadline]
“Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” creator MIKE FLEISS is leaving the franchise after 21 years.
He announced the news Monday night, which was also the conclusion of Season 27.
Fleiss is also exiting his role as executive producer on “Bachelor Pad,” “Bachelor in Paradise” and “Bachelor: Winter Games.” [via Deadline]
More than 2.3 million people tuned in to watch the Season 4 premiere of “Succession” on Sunday night.
The figure is the highest same-day viewer rate in the series’ history, according to Deadline. It was also the best premiere night of any HBO original series since HBO Max launched in 2020.
Season 4 will be the show’s final season. [via Deadline]
THE DAILY KARDASHOPUS
Several Jewish groups say YE’s recent realization that he does in fact like Jewish people thanks to an 11-year-old movie starring JONAH HILL, is not enough to erase his past remarks.
Watchdog group StopAntisemitism and the American Jewish Committee told TMZ this week that they need more of a sincere apology and proof of Ye being a changed man before they are willing to forgive his anti-semitic rhetoric.
“Joking about a movie with Jonah Hill is not the apology that the Jewish people deserve…” Liora Rez, SA’s Executive Director told the outlet in response to Ye’s Instagram post about watching “21 Jump Street.”
WORTH REMEMBERING: Just months ago, Ye tweeted that he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” In response, SA named him “Antisemite of the Year.”
MEANWHILE: The AJC says they are willing to meet with and educate Ye, if he is being authentic in his new feelings. [via TMZ]
WE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS
PRINCE HARRY submitted a witness statement ahead of the current trial involving Associated Newspapers that stated he was forced to follow the royal policy of “never complain, never explain” when dealing with the media.
He continued on explaining that he was fine following the rule until the “vicious persistent attacks on, harassment of and intrusive, sometimes racist articles concerning [MEGHAN MARKLE].”
Harry also claimed in the statement that he believes The Firm was “withholding information” about the newsgroup's phone hacking and other breaches.
As previously reported, Harry is currently in London -- along with other celebs -- who all claim to be victims of the news organization, who publishes the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.
Associated Newspapers has denied the allegations. [via People]
DAY OF THE YEAR
International Mermaid Day
National Smoke and Mirrors Day
World Piano Day
Manatee Appreciation Day
National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day
Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day
PayDay It Forward
ON THIS DATE
1806 - Congress approves the construction of the Cumberland Road.
The route would connect Cumberland, Maryland and Wheeling, Virginia through the Appalachian Mountains.
The bill was approved only after the government had accumulated enough funds for the entire project — this was even before a federal income tax existed.
1951 - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of spying on America, on behalf of the Soviet Union.
The trial was short, lasting only 23 days.
The most damning evidence came from David Greenglass, Ethel's brother. He testified that Julius had set up a meeting to pass along information to another Soviet informant about the American nuclear weapons program.
Little evidence ever surfaced against Ethel, but prosecutors convinced the jury she was pulling the strings of the whole operation.
The couple was later executed.
1961 - After a years-long trial — known as the Treason Trial — Nelson Mandela is acquitted of treason in Pretoria.
Mandel and 139 other anti-Apartheid leaders were arrested and charged with treason in December of 1956.
He would be arrested again the following year for his involvement in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and serve a 27-year sentence.
1973 - The last American troops leave Vietnam, two months after the signing of the Vietnam Peace Agreement.
Meanwhile, some 7,000 bureaucrats stayed behind as South Vietnam continued fighting with the North.
The American withdrawal ended more than a decade of fighting.
Four years later, Saigon fell to the communists in the North.
1989 - I. M. Pei’s pyramid-style entrance to the Louvre opens in Paris.
The pyramid, which stands 70 feet tall, took four years to construct.
At the time, the structure was not well-received, with many calling it “an annex to Disneyland.”
Today, it is a well-known symbol of Paris.
2019 - Democrat activist Lucy Flores accuses Joe Biden of sexual harassment, including unwanted kissing and touching. She said Biden made the advances while the two campaigned in Nevada in 2014.
Flores called the interaction “awkward and disturbing.”
Biden, who was Vice President at the time of the incident, said that it was never his “intention” to make Flores feel uncomfortable.
Leah Williamson - soccer player - 26
Chris D’Elia - comedian - 43
Jennifer Capriati - Olympic tennis player - 47
Lucy Lawless - actress, “Xena: Warrior Princess” - 55
Elle MacPherson - model - 59
Maggie Baird - actress, “Bones” & “The West Wing” - 64
Brendan Gleeson - actor, “Gangs of New York” & “28 Days Later” - 68
Walt Frazier - basketball player - 78
Danny McLain - baseball player - 79
Born On This Date
Scott Wilson - actor, “The Walking Dead” & “Pearl Harbor” - 1942 (d. 2018)
Sam Walton - founder of Sam’s Club & Walmart - 1918 (d. 1992)
Cy Young - HOF baseball player - 1867 (d. 1955)
John Tyler - 10th POTUS - 1790 (d. 1862)
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