World in Brief
Welcome to the Bulletin,
- Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey says he "firmly believes he will be exonerated" of federal bribery charges brought against him and his wife. Menendez has resisted calls for him to resign.
- The Biden administration announced that it has awarded more than $1.4 billion to projects that improve railway safety and boost capacity, with much of the money coming from the 2021 infrastructure law.
- Sicilian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro died on Monday in a hospital prison ward, several months after being captured as Italy's No. 1 fugitive and following decades on the run, Italian prosecutors said.
- The U.S. Space Force has internally discussed "opening up a line of communication" with China to de-escalate tensions in space should a need arise, U.S. commander General Chance Saltzman told Reuters. The U.S. has not engaged with China on the matter.
- Tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians fled the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, causing traffic jams on the way to Armenia after separatist forces of the region were defeated by Azerbaijan in a military operation.
- DWS Investment Management Americas, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, has been fined $19 million for misstating its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment process, the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday.
- Amazon is investing up to $4 billion in Anthropic and taking a minority stake in the artificial intelligence startup, the two companies announced on Monday.
- In the ongoing war in Ukraine, Russian forces are struggling in their attempts to go on the offensive on two parts of the front in Ukraine, according to British defense officials.
- A world without cigarettes is possible. Approximately 9 out of 10 adult smokers don't quit. These smokers deserve access to better alternatives to continued smoking. Learn more.
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Writers Guild Reaches Tentative Deal to End Strike
Hollywood's screenwriters reached a tentative deal with major studios, potentially putting an end to one of the longest strikes in history by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) that halted most film and television production. WGA, which represents more than 11,000 screenwriters, called the deal "exceptional" that includes "meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership." As details are being worked out, WGA is not calling off the 146-day strike but is immediately "suspending WGA picketing."
The news marks a significant step forward for the entertainment industry and comes after top executives — including Disney's chief executive Robert A. Iger, NBCUniversal Studio Group Chair Donna Langley, and Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos — joined talks directly. An actors' strike continues despite financial hardships. But its union, SAG-AFTRA, said it is ready to negotiate and hopes to strike a deal. The dual strikes have paralyzed much of Hollywood, sending ripple effects across businesses and crews that support major productions. California's economy alone has suffered a $5 billion loss from the shutdown.
TL/DR: "This was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who joined us on the picket lines for over 146 days," the negotiating committee said.
What happens now? WGA members have been encouraged to continue supporting the SAG-AFTRA strike. In the coming days, the final messaging of the contract will be worked out, and guild members will vote on whether or not to accept the deal. While the terms of the deal are not known, it is expected to include WGA’s demands of increased compensation for streaming content, minimum staffing of writers' rooms, and protections that artificial intelligence will not impact writers' credits and compensation, among other things. As things stand, all film and television productions are unlikely to start immediately. Productions of daytime/late-night talk shows hosted by the likes of Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore could begin in the near future.
Deeper reading Writers Strike Deal Explained—Three Key Takeaways
Biden Gets Bad News from Poll
President Joe Biden is trailing behind Donald Trump by a sizable margin. As the 2024 presidential campaign heats up, a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows former president Trump ahead by 10 percentage points with 52% of the vote over Biden's 42%.
The poll results haven't matched other recent surveys. However, it is reflective of the dissatisfaction among American voters towards Biden over the state of the economy and the issue of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. 64% of Americans disapproved of Biden's handling of the economy, while 62% were unhappy with his immigration policies. High gas prices, inflation, student loan debt payments, and now a United Auto Workers strike present serious challenges for the president to boost support among his base. Three in five Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer another nominee, and 43% of Democrats think Biden is too old to be president.
TL/DR: A new survey finds Donald Trump significantly ahead of Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential race.
What happens now? At the moment, it looks like the president and Trump are set for a rematch next year. According to Betfair, Biden is 1/2 odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination, with Newsom—who confirmed in November 2022 that he will not run and is backing Biden to win in 2024—in second place at 17/2. However, Biden’s critics could inch him closer to dropping out entirely. Franklin Foer, the author of The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and the Struggle for America's Future, told NBC News' Meet the Press that it "wouldn't be a total shock" if Biden drops out of the presidential race by the end of the year.
Deeper reading Joe Biden Gets Bad News From Poll
Trump Commits to Nevada Caucus in 2024
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump committed to participating in Nevada's caucus after the state's Republican Central Committee voted for a rule change that would bar candidates if they opt for the state-run GOP primary election. Delegates will be given to candidates who participate in the caucus, and "super PACs" will be prohibited from bolstering support for the candidates in a caucus. Trump's 2024 rivals Vivek Ramaswamy and radio host Larry Elder also said they would participate, according to Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald.
GOP leaders argue the move will reduce costs, will be more secure, and increase turnout. But critics say it will increase Trump's chances of a victory in the swing state, where the party is run by his allies. But Trump faces several lawsuits asking that he be disqualified from the ballot under the rarely used 14th Amendment clause. Last week, a Colorado judge overseeing one such case filed by a liberal group ordered a ban on threats and intimidation, a ruling Trump's legal team said was unnecessary.
TL/DR: Nevada's GOP has long called for the state to abandon its 2021 law — that requires the government to hold a primary if at least two candidates are on the ballot — and hold a party-run caucus instead.
What happens now? Nevada joined a list of early states, such as Iowa, that will hold caucuses to nominate GOP candidates. Others, like New Hampshire and South Carolina, will hold state-run primaries. Unlike Utah and Idaho — which will not hold a primary — Nevada will host the primary on February 6, 2024, and its caucus two days later, on February 8. McDonald expects other Republican candidates to join the caucus soon. Signing up would require a $55,000 fee. The Nevada Republican Club opposed Nevada’s decision, saying that holding the primary and caucus two days apart would "frustrate, anger and confuse Nevada’s Republican voters." Meanwhile, cases urging that Trump be removed from the ballot are likely to reach the Supreme Court, which has never ruled on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment Claused. A Colorado judge in the case will hear arguments on Oct. 30.
Russia Appears Ready To Accept Crimea as Ukraine's—On One Condition
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has appeared to back the territorial integrity of Ukraine agreed upon after the break-up of the Soviet Union when Crimea was internationally recognized as part of the country Moscow invaded. Ukrainian social media users noted Lavrov's response at a press conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday when asked whether Russia will "recognize the sovereignty of Ukraine."
Crimea has been under Russian control since President Vladimir Putin invaded and annexed the region in 2014. During the course of Putin's current invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly said that reclaiming the peninsula is one of his main objectives in the war. Now, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has appeared to back the territorial integrity of Ukraine agreed upon after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Lavrov said that in 1991 Moscow "recognized the sovereignty of Ukraine on the basis of the Declaration of Independence, which it adopted upon leaving the USSR," in which Crimea was considered to be under the control of Kyiv.
TL/DR: "One of the main points for us was that Ukraine would be a non-aligned country and would not enter into any military alliances, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "Under those conditions, we support the territorial integrity of this state."
What happens now? Ukrainian forces, whose stronger-than-expected defense efforts have prevented Russia from making substantial progress in the invasion, have sought to "demilitarize" the Black Sea Fleet as Kyiv hopes to eventually retake control of Crimea, Newsweek previously reported. Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ukraine's former defense minister, previously told Newsweek that Ukraine's strategy in Crimea was to "demilitarize" the Kremlin's Black Sea Fleet. [Russia's] goal is basically to suffocate us economically," Zagorodnyuk said, who now serves as an adviser to Ukraine's Defense Ministry. "The only way to get out of this situation is to destroy the Black Sea Fleet, to destroy their capability to pursue the occupation of the Black Sea and restore freedom of navigation."
Health Insurance Costs Predicted to Hit 10-Year High
Healthcare insurance costs are anticipated to hit a 10-year-high in 2024, but a majority of employers are willing to bite the financial bullet for their workers, a survey revealed. Employers' health care costs are expected to rise from 5.4% to 8.4% next year, health benefit consultants from Mercer and Aon and Willis Towers Watson estimate, attributing it to medical inflation, higher demand for weight-loss drugs, and expensive gene and cellular therapies.
Companies with more than 500 employees avoid trickled-down costs to workers, but smaller employers that offer full insurance plans reported a higher average renewal rate of 7.5%. Employers eating these increases make workers less susceptible to looking for other jobs, the survey found. Amid a tight labor market, associate professor Francesco D'Acunto told Newsweek that "health insurance has become a crucial point of bargaining for many employees." More employers are trying to woo competent candidates or retain existing ones, D'Acunto said. That includes workers agreeing to lower base salaries for positions that offer above-average health insurance plans.
TL/DR: Employers “don't want to add more financial stress on employees who are also coping with inflation,” especially when they're “relying on their health benefits as a way to keep employees working for them," said Beth Umland, Mercer's director of health & benefits research.
What happens now? Some employers don't just absorb the higher healthcare costs. Rather than pass them down to workers, many companies can pass them to the public by setting higher prices on goods and services. D'Acunto described it as "a kind of snowball effect" that will test the strength of the economy as the Federal Reserve aims to lower inflation with interest rate increases that are already impacting millions of Americans. The Fed is expected to maintain rates above 5% next year. Although regulatory action imposed by the federal government could prevent future increases, D'Acunto said that would require fortitude and would take time if it did ever occur. He also warned of the potential decrease in the quality of services if major healthcare industry players were to be regulated.
Deeper reading Health Insurance Costs Predicted to Hit 10-Year High
Extreme Weather Threatens Religious Sites
Climate change is affecting temples and pilgrimage sites around the globe. Floods and extreme heat have destroyed revered religious sites and threatened the lives of devout religious followers making the journey to sacred sites.
Stampedes were the biggest risk of injury when millions of Muslims venture each year to complete Hajj, but now heat-related injuries are on the rise. Medical teams treated 6,700 cases of heat stress this year. Wildfires cropping up in Europe have had impacts on El Camino de Santiago, the walkable network leading pilgrims to the shrine of the apostle James. Melting glaciers hinder thousands of indigenous worshippers traveling in honor of the religious festival Qoyllur Rit'i in the Peruvian Andes after the practice of cutting blocks of ice from a glacier to access healing powers was banned to slow melting. In 2013, melting glaciers brought devastating floods — killing at least 6,000 people pilgrimaging to the Kedarnath Temple in the Indian Himalayas. For more stories related to climate change, visit our new Better Planet hub and sign up for our weekly newsletter
TL/DR: Climate change is impacting temples and pilgrimage sites around the globe, wreaking havoc through everything from floods to extreme heat.
What happens now? The timing of Hajj changes every year but will continue to occur during Saudi Arabia's hot summer months until 2026. As temperatures rise from climate change, Jos Lelieveld, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Advancement of Science, told Time he thinks some Hajj pilgrims will suffer fatal complications. Despite Warnings of closures along the 1,000-mile journey, considering the mass expanse of the walkable network, it's unlikely that wildfires will deter pilgrims from traveling at least a portion of El Camino de Santiago. The climate won’t stop many from pilgrimaging, according to Hajj traveler Ferzaana Sibda who told Newsweek she believes the effects of climate change will “strengthen the believer.”
Deeper reading Extreme Weather Threatens Religious Sites
I Was Poor and Faced 11 Rejections—Then My Dream Came True
Growing up as a farmworker presented a unique set of challenges that shaped me and my siblings' childhoods in profound ways. Our family's annual migration from southern to central and northern California, followed by a return to Mexico for three months, defined our lives on an annual basis.
It meant constant change, adapting to new environments, and leaving behind friends and connections we had made. One pivotal moment came when my second-grade teacher advised my father to stay in one place, hoping for more stability in our education. This well-intentioned advice, while valuable for our schooling, posed a new set of challenges.
Staying in one place meant fewer job opportunities during the harsh winter months, which translated to greater financial hardship for our family. Balancing the need for stability in our education with the financial pressures of our seasonal work was a constant juggling act, making our journey as a farmworker family both challenging and rewarding.
What to Watch in the Day Ahead
- Donald Trump is set to return to South Carolina, home to two GOP presidential hopefuls, Sen. Tim Scott and former Gov. Nikki Haley, and hold a rally in Summerville two days before the second GOP debate.
- Americans will once again be able to order free COVID-19 tests through COVIDTests.gov, which will be able to detect the latest circulating variant. Each household can get four free tests.
- Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish community, continues through sundown today. Also known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur marks the end of the 10 days of repentance that begins with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
- Thor Industries, the manufacturer of recreational vehicles, is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter earnings report after the closing bell.