Inside Daily Brief - December 14th, 2019

Inside Daily Brief (Dec 14th, 2019)

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1. North Korea confirmed on Saturday that it conducted another "crucial test" at its long-range rocket launch site, known as the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, on Friday. North Korea's Academy of Defense Science did not specify what was tested, although the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the test was meant to strengthen North Korea's "reliable strategic nuclear deterrent." According to the Associated Press, the test may have involved technologies designed to enhance intercontinental ballistic missiles, which it says "could potentially reach the continental United States." It came six days after Pyongyang conducted what it called a "very important test" at the same site, later confirmed by South Korean officials to be an engine capable of powering a satellite-carrying rocket or a ballistic missile. North Korea has threatened to deliver a "Christmas gift" to the U.S. if stalled nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang aren't revived by year's end. - CNN

2. The U.S. Supreme Court late on Friday announced that it will review three court decisions involving the release of President Trump's financial records, with a ruling expected in June. The lower courts have so far upheld congressional and grand jury subpoenas for Trump's financial records in the three cases. According to NPR, the first case involves a New York grand jury's subpoena for Trump's longtime accountants, Mazars USA, to provide materials in its investigation of alleged hush-money payments directed toward women during Trump's 2016 campaign. In the second case, the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena as it considers legislation to force presidents to make their tax returns public. A third case involves subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee, which are seeking materials from two banks that did business with Trump as they investigate potential connections to Russian money laundering. - WAPO

3. California Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected a plan for Pacific Gas and Electric - which has been implicated in deadly wildfires across the state - to exit bankruptcy and pay a $13.5 billion settlement to fire victims. In a letter to PG&E CEO Bill Johnson, Newsom said that the utility's proposal doesn’t go far enough to make it able to "provide safe, reliable and affordable service.” The utility reached the settlement last week for claims from thousands of residents who lost family members, homes, and businesses in the fires. On Tuesday, PG&E filed an amended reorganization plan in bankruptcy court that kept it on track to meet a June 30 deadline to emerge from bankruptcy protection. Newsom's rejection of the plan means it will have to undergo an overhaul, which could threaten its timeline, The Sacramento Bee reported. - LATIMES

4. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has declared a state of emergency in the city following a targeted cyberattack on Friday. Phishing attempts and suspicious activity were identified on the city's network around 5 a.m. and the city's IT department powered down servers and city computers just to be safe. While Cantrell confirmed that it was a ransomware attack, no ransom was demanded. An emergency declaration reported that there is “significant risk that the emergency is ongoing" and there is a risk of “the endangerment" of people and property in New Orleans. The incident comes after a malware attack affected several school systems in Louisiana this past summer. - ABC NEWS

5. Police are investigating an incident in which Wisconsin high school students found hidden cameras in their hotel rooms while attending a school trip in Minnesota. A staff member at Madison East High School who attended the trip was placed on leave "as a precautionary measure," a spokesperson for the school district said. The Minneapolis Hyatt Regency, where the students stayed, said it searched its property for hidden cameras but didn't find any in addition to the ones located in the students' rooms. No arrests have been made, and investigators are analyzing the cameras "to see what their capabilities are." - NBC NEWS

6. "Jumanji: The Next Level" beat box office expectations by raking in an estimated $19.4 million on Friday, marking the biggest opening day in December for a Sony film. The sequel, starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart, also set a record for the highest December opening day of all time for a comedy. It's expected to bring in another $52.4 million this opening weekend, higher than Sony's estimate of $35 million. The film has an 86 percent rating from audience members on Rotten Tomatoes and an A- CinemaScore. - THR

7. In a ruling issued Friday, a federal appeals court struck down Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks, calling the law "unconstitutional." The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a U.S. District Judge, who previously blocked the law from taking effect last year. In the latest ruling, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote that laws limiting so-called pre-viability abortions "are unconstitutional regardless of the State's interests." Mississippi is among the nine U.S. states to pass laws restricting abortions after a certain point this year; none have gone into effect, with most being blocked by federal judges. - VOX

8. Amazon is now delivering about half of its own packages in the United States and will soon surpass both United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx in total volume, according to new Morgan Stanley estimates. Morgan Stanley expects that Amazon Logistics - the company's delivery business - will overtake both competitors by 2022. In the analysis, Morgan Stanley looked into parcel data from roughly 70,000 Amazon transactions to come up with the findings, which were reported on by multiple news outlets. During an earnings call in October, CEO Jeff Bezos noted that Amazon Prime customers have ordered billions of items with free one-day shipping since it began offering the service this year. - GEEKWIRE

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Amazon.

9. A man accused of slapping and grabbing the backside of a reporter on live TV was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery. Thomas Callaway, 43, has since apologized and turned himself in on Friday to police in Savannah, Georgia, where the incident occurred during a runners' race on December 7. The reporter, Alex Bozarjian, later posted a video clip of the incident on Twitter, writing: “To the man who smacked my butt on live TV this morning: You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me." Callaway, who called his actions "an awful mistake," has been barred from competing in any future races sponsored by the Savannah Sports Council. In Georgia, a charge of sexual battery is punishable by up to a year in prison. - NYTIMES

10. Hip hop and business mogul Russell Simmons is asking Oprah Winfrey to look beyond his past as she prepares to release an AppleTV+ documentary, which reportedly looks into allegations of rape and sexual misconduct by the record executive. More than a dozen women have accused Simmons, 62, of sexual assault, including allegations of rape posed by fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone in 1991. On Friday, Simmons took to Instagram to say that he has "already admitted to being a playboy more (appropriately titled today 'womanizer') sleeping with and putting myself in more compromising situations than almost any man I know." However, Simmons said he has "never been violent or forced myself on anyone." Winfrey's documentary, which is scheduled to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, focuses on Drew Dixon, who alleges that Simmons raped her in 1995, as well as two other "hand-chosen women." - USA TODAY


Time for a nap

Written and curated by Beth Duckett, a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who wrote a book about the solar industry and frequently covers hobby and commercial drones. You can follow her tweets on breaking news here.

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