Could members of the Trump family be swapping Mar-a-Lago with a jail cell? The New York Attorney General’s Office announced last night that the investigation into the Trump Organization is now criminal as well as civil. The organization, headed by Don Jr. and Eric during their father’s time in office, has been under scrutiny since 2019, but the criminal component is new. The former president’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen testified in 2019 that Trump inflated the value of his assets to get loans, but deflated the value of others to reduce taxes. The organization asserts the investigation is politically motivated.
2. Israel Says Hamas Chief Top Target as Gaza Strikes Continue
Four more Palestinians, including a journalist, were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza this morning, as the conflict entered its 10th day. Israel dropped 122 bombs on the territory in a 25-minute period last night, while militants launched 50 rockets at Israel yesterday. Meanwhile, Israel’s military says it’s tried unsuccessfully to kill Hamas commander Mohammed Deif, though President Benjamin Netanyahu said his government’s bombardment has “set Hamas back by many years.” France, along with Egypt and Jordan, has filed a draft resolution at the U.N. Security Council, with the U.S. under pressure to take a firmer stance on the conflict.
What do you think? Should the Biden administration take a harder line on Israel? Vote here.
3. DA Says Police Killing of Andrew Brown 'Justified'
The police officers who shot and killed Black motorist Andrew Brown last month were “justified” in their use of deadly force, a North Carolina district attorney ruled yesterday. Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said Brown had endangered the three sheriff’s deputies’ lives by driving toward them, but lawyers for Brown’s family described his death as an “execution.” The 42-year-old was shot the day after former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd amid a raging debate over police violence. The three police officers will now be reinstated and retrained.
4. Faceoff: Amazon Bars Police from Using Recognition Software
Amazon has extended its ban on police use of its facial recognition software, after it was introduced in 2020 during a nationwide reckoning over racial justice. The software, Rekognition, can scan thousands of mug shots for matches and had previously led to controversy over racial bias and false arrests. The tech giant last year put in place a one-year moratorium to give Congress time to establish new rules around the technology’s ethical use. Congress has yet to weigh in, so now Jeff Bezos’ company has extended the ban indefinitely. IBM and Microsoft have also stopped selling similar technology to police.
After 8,000 migrants swam from Morocco to Spain over the past few days, Madrid has deployed troops to round up and send them back. President Biden is set to sign an anti-Asian hate crimes bill that passed the House yesterday. And Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has lost his spot as the world’s second-richest person on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
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Today’s OZY Genius Award Winner: Tony Shu, Harvard University. According to a study by the National Conference of State Legislators, 18- to 24-year-olds are among the most vulnerable to homelessness. Shu’s genius idea helps these youths find stable housing while also providing career training and mentorship. If you’d like to help, let us know HERE.
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Is he nuts? A NASA engineer who charmed the internet last year by creating a crazy squirrel-proof obstacle course is at it again. Mark Rober’s video of crafty squirrels outwitting his invention and stealing his walnuts was a YouTube hit last year, racking up 72 million views. But the backyard course, designed in lockdown to stop the furry thieves from raiding his birdfeeder, was no match for the critters. So Rober, a components designer for Mars rovers, tried again, using rooftop mazes, laser rooms and trapdoors inspired by movies like Mission Impossible. Result? Foiled again by squirrel Phat Gus and his three accomplices!
2. Let’s Be Blunt, There Are Some Good Joints in Weed, Calif.
It was high time. For years, residents of Weed, California, railed against jokes about their town’s name, but now they’re cashing in. As main street businesses began to suffer from a lockdown economic slump, the city council approved a plan for a facility to grow 150,000 cannabis plants and employ 300 people. Weed, of course, was not named for marijuana, but for the town's 19th-century founder Anber Weed. But now locals are leveraging the joke. There are already two medical marijuana dispensaries in town and plenty of shops touting tourist souvenirs, like fridge magnets saying: “Weed is so dope.”
It’s a race against flatulence. Methane-emitting cows are the source of about 10% of greenhouse gases, and there are 1.4 billion of them in the world. In order to solve this big, gassy problem, one company has developed special cattle feed to stop the bloat. Using garlic and citrus extracts mixed in with their regular food, Swiss-British startup Mootral says cows’ emissions are reduced by some 30%. Businesses that want to offset their emissions can now buy these savings as carbon credits, with proceeds going back to the farmers. Mootral has so far generated more than 300 CowCredits.
She’s replacing catwalks with stroller walks. Naomi Campbell announced yesterday that she’d become a mother at age 50. The British supermodel posted an Instagram shot of her new daughter’s tiny feet, saying: “So honored to have this gentle soul in my life.” Designer Marc Jacobs was among her celebrity friends sending congratulations. In 2017, the model told The Evening Standard she was not worried about her age in terms of having children, saying: “With the way science is I think I can do it when I want."
5. Calls Grow for China Winter Olympic Boycott Over Xinjiang
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has joined calls by Uyghur activists and others for a boycott of China’s 2022 Winter Olympics. “What moral authority do you have to speak about human rights any place in the world if you’re willing to pay your respects to the Chinese government as they commit genocide?” she said. China has denied allegations of rights violations against the Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Rights groups have met several times with the IOC and Tibetans and Hong Kong activists are also among those calling for a boycott. The Games are slated to open February 4.
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