🌊 Peeping Xi in Cuba?

Plus: Hunter Biden accuses Fox of revenge porn...

How about some Fourth of July stats…

America will celebrate freedom tomorrow by eating roughly 150 million hot dogs, setting off $3B worth of fireworks, and consuming $4B worth of alcohol. It’s America’s biggest drinking day of the year, beating out the likes of New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, and somehow even the presidential debate last Thursday. Hope you have a great day!

💰 Hunter Biden sues Fox News

🇨🇳 China expanding base in Cuba

🐑 Waldo the runaway sheep finds home

–Max and Max


Iran Vote

Iran’s presidential election is headed to a runoff between a hardline candidate and a reformist

  • Iran’s president – a hardliner who opposed the West – died in a helicopter crash in May

  • For elections to replace him, Iran’s government selected six candidates: Five hardliners and one reformist who wants better relations with the West

  • The reformist won the most votes in the first round but failed to secure a majority, sending him to a head-to-head runoff with a hardliner this Friday

Dig Deeper

  • The reformist won 10.4M of 24.5M votes in the first round, but turnout was a record-low 40%

  • It’s unclear who will win the next round or the effect that a reformist victory would have: Even if the reformist wins, the anti-Western Supreme Leader would continue to control Iranian policies, including foreign policy, while Iran’s armed forces would remain powerful


China Expands Cuba Base

China has been expanding intel bases in Cuba

  • Last year, the Wall Street Journal revealed that China was operating “eavesdropping” bases in Cuba that monitor US ship movements and capture electronic communications

  • On Wednesday, a new report found that China has significantly improved those sites, both expanding their size and capabilities

  • It identified sites with large antennas designed to monitor and communicate with satellites, as well as a new site being constructed near the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay

Dig Deeper

  • In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, China’s government denied that it was doing anything inappropriate: “The US is no doubt the leading power in terms of eavesdropping and does not even spare its Allies,” a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington said. He added, “The US side has repeatedly hyped up China’s establishment of spy bases or conducting surveillance activities in Cuba”


Majestic India

  • Embark on a mesmerizing 10-day small-group tour of India and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture!

  • Explore Delhi’s stunning palaces and lively markets, marvel at the Taj Mahal in Agra, and discover Jaipur’s colorful charm. Visit the sacred city of Pushkar with its renowned fair and serene lake, then journey to Udaipur, the enchanting City of Lakes. Enjoy deluxe accommodations, daily breakfast, comfortable transport, and included flights

  • Book now for an unforgettable adventure and experience the richness of India like never before!


Closing the Gap

Panama’s president vowed to close the Darien Gap

  • The Darien Gap is a gang-controlled roadless and lawless jungle separating Colombia from Panama and, therefore, North from South America. Millions of migrants have passed through it since 2021, and 1,000+ people continue to arrive there daily

  • This week, Panama’s new conservative president vowed to close the Gap and reduce the burden of migration on Panama

Dig Deeper

  • On Monday, the US announced that it and Panama agreed “to jointly reduce the number of migrants being cruelly smuggled through the Darien”


Hunter Biden Sues Fox News

Hunter Biden has filed a lawsuit against Fox News for showing nude images of him in a 2022 miniseries

  • The suit revolved around “The Trial of Hunter Biden,” a dramatized docuseries that dramatizes a trial in which Biden is prosecuted over his business ties with Ukraine and China

  • Biden claimed the series violated New York’s “revenge porn” law, which makes it illegal to publish intimate images of someone without their consent

  • Fox News called the suit “entirely politically motivated” and “devoid of merit”

Dig Deeper

  • Fox took down the miniseries this year, though the suit claims it has not taken down promotional clips and remains viewable on third-party streaming platforms

  • The lawsuit states, “In addition to the unlawful commercial exploitation of Mr. Biden’s image, name, and likeness, ‘The Trial of Hunter Biden’ unlawfully publishes numerous intimate images (both still and video) of Mr. Biden depicting him in the nude, depicting an unclothed or exposed intimate part of him, as well as engaged in sex acts”

Some Quick Stories for the Office

💵 The Biden campaign said it raised $264M in the second quarter of 2024, tens of millions more than in the previous three months

🎁 Keir Starmer – head of the UK’s Labour party and the country’s likely next prime minister – took $96,000+ of gifts since 2019, more than any other parliamentarian

🌀 Category 5 Hurricane Beryl hit the Caribbean with 165 MPH winds, the highest ever for a July hurricane. It killed at least six people in Grenada, Venezuela, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines

🚫 Donald Trump requested that his hush money conviction be thrown out, citing SCOTUS’ ruling that presidents have broad immunity. It will delay his July 11 sentencing, conceivably until after the election 

🇺🇸 Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett became the first Democratic representative to urge Biden to step down. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D.-SC) — a long-term influential Biden supporter — later said he’d hypothetically support a Kamala presidency


🧠 Yesterday’s question: When were you most proud of your country?

I was proudest of my country 2 weeks after 9/11. I was driving home after work on the interstate and almost every single car had an American flag on the back. It made me feel the most patriotic I’ve ever been to see everyone come together to stand for and with the United States.

Ashley from North Carolina

I live in San Antonio, TX and am a member of the huge military community in our city. Each time I see a Basic Training Graduating Class on the parade field at Lackland AFB, I am honored and proud to be an American. Freedom is not free and is most definitely taken for granted. These graduating classes of men and women who stand up and step forward to serve and protect our country and others is a thankless job but halleluiah there are still voluntary Americans who choose this path.

Lisa from San Antonio

When Ronald Reagan made peace with Gorbachev and we actually had a good relationship with Russia. God help the world now that Putin is their king/dictator.

When we elected Barack Obama to the Presidency. Not because he was black but because he was a kind, intelligent, thoughtful and proud American who believed in democracy.

When we did NOT re-elect Trump. I’m afraid this year will be different and our country will go from being a democracy to being ruled by a dictator.d dancing while in India....there are way too many things to list.

Tracey from California

🤔 Today’s Question: What state should really be more than one state? How would you divide it?

Some Quick Stories for Happy Hour

🚔 Criminally cold feet: An Iowa woman called the police ahead of her first date with a man she met on a dating app after getting cold feet. She accused him of assault

🍫 S’mores (noodle version): Nissin Foods launched a limited-edition Cup Noodles Campfire S’mores flavor. The release follows Nissin’s Breakfast and Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese flavor

🛫 Carry-on passenger: “Strong turbulence” threw a passenger into an overhead bin during an Air Europa flight from Madrid, Spain, to Montevideo, Uruguay, forcing a diversion to Brazil

Turbulence so bad this dude ended up as a Samsonite.

🐑 Where’s Waldo? Rescuers in New York have safely found and transported a sheep named Waldo to a new home after he fled slaughter and wandered a town’s streets for weeks

🌊 RIP, Charlotte: Charlotte, a stingray that became pregnant at a North Carolina aquarium in February despite not sharing a tank with a male of her species, died from a rare reproductive disease


How SCOTUS Works

What’s a SCOTUS?

Given the number of times we’ve written “SCOTUS” in the past month, we wanted to run a story to explain how the court works.

By law, the Supreme Court’s term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October of the following year. SCOTUS is asked to review ~7,000 cases each term and agrees to hear 100-200. Cases have typically already been decided in the US Court of Appeals – the highest federal court below SCOTUS – or the highest court in a given state. To accept a case, four of SCOTUS’ nine justices must agree a case has merit.

If the justices accept a case, it goes on the docket. Some go on the “shadow docket” – cases for which SCOTUS does not hold full oral arguments. Others go through an extensive briefing process followed by oral arguments.

For those cases, the one who filed the case – the petitioner – is given a period to write a “brief,” which is an up-to-50-page document that makes their legal case. The second party – the respondent – then has a certain amount of time to file their own up to 50-page brief.

After the initial arguments are filed, the petitioner and respondent can file briefs responding to the other’s position. If the US government is not directly involved in the case, it can file a brief on its position. SCOTUS can also solicit briefs from other parties who are interested in the case.

SCOTUS hears oral arguments on the cases from October through April. Arguments last one hour, with each side having 30 minutes. Most of that time is dedicated to the lawyers answering the justices’ questions.

After arguments are heard, the justices hold a “conference.” They start that by deciding which recently filed cases to accept. They then state their opinions on and discuss a set of recently-argued cases.

After the chief justice’s initial statements, the justices speak in descending order by seniority. When the justices are done speaking, they hold a vote. Once the votes have been tallied, the senior-most justice in the majority assigns another majority justice to write SCOTUS’ majority opinion. The senior-most justice in the minority assigns another minority justice to write the dissenting opinion.

SCOTUS’ opinions can be released at any point before the last day of the term. They typically release all decisions by late June/early July, after which SCOTUS breaks for the summer. Unanimous decisions are usually released sooner than disputed ones.

The most noteworthy decisions are typically released in the term’s final days. Various theories try to explain this, including:

  • That the justices want more time to polish major decisions

  • That the justices want to cluster big decisions together to avoid excessive scrutiny of anyone

  • That the justices don’t want the “big” cases to overshadow the “small” ones

  • That the justices want to avoid social backlash, so they release contentious decisions just before leaving Washington, DC, for the summer

SCOTUS just wrapped up its term this week, so we’ll be writing that acronym much less in the weeks ahead!

Final Thoughts

Happy Eve of the Fourth, everyone. We’re going to be celebrating near Pittsburgh as we explore steel country and visit Max T’s old town of Latrobe, PA. Earlier this week, we were in coal country and had some fascinating conversations. One place we visited was a small town that had a population of 1,000 in 1980 but just four today. Yes — 1, 2, 3, 4. We head back on Friday and will begin putting all of this together for you!

–Max and Max