December 29, 2023


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Publication note: In recognition of the New Year holiday, and barring any particularly extraordinary news events, there will be no Daily Brief published Monday, January 1, 2024. We look forward to resuming service on Tuesday, January 2.

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR | Updates from day 84 of the conflict:

  • According to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Health Ministry, the number of people killed in the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza has exceeded 21,500, with nearly 60,000 people injured, since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. [more]
  • Israeli officials say several rockets were launched from Lebanese territory toward northern Israel overnight and that the source of the launches was struck by Israeli artillery in response. [more]

UKRAINE | Today is day 673 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are your updates:

  • In what Ukrainian military officials say was Russia’s largest aerial attack since it launched the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian forces launched 122 missiles and 36 drones at targets across Ukraine overnight. Reports say 13 civilians were killed in the attacks and that 87 of the missiles and 27 of the drones were intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses. [more]
  • According to Britain’s Financial Times, the U.S. has proposed that the Group of Seven countries explore ways to seize more than $300 billion in Russian assets frozen since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. [more]

MAINE | Citing the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows yesterday ordered former President Donald Trump removed from the state’s presidential primary ballot, but suspended her ruling until the action can be considered by Maine’s state courts. [more]

U.S. MILITARY | Following increased Congressional concern over the handling of major crimes in the U.S. military, a new law went into effect yesterday that removes prosecution decision authority from military commanders and gives it to independent special counsels. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin calls the change “the most important reform to our military justice system since the creation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 1950.” [more]

POPULATION | According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population is projected to be 335,893,238 at midnight EST on January 1, 2024, while the world population is projected to be 8,019,876,189. The Bureau further notes that the combination of births, deaths and net international migration will increase the U.S. population by one person every 24.2 seconds in January 2024, while, worldwide, 4.3 births and 2.0 deaths are expected worldwide every second. [more]

TURKEY | Reports say Turkish authorities arrested 32 people suspected of links to the Islamic State extremist group today who were part of an alleged plot to carry out attacks on synagogues and churches. [more]

NORTH KOREA | The South Korean Defense Ministry says it expects a new light-water reactor at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex to be fully operational by the summer of 2024 and that the North will attempt to use the new reactor to increase its production of weapons-grade plutonium. [more]

ARGENTINA | Argentina’s largest union confederation, the General Confederation of Labor, called yesterday for a general strike to be held on January 24 to protest against economic, socials, electoral, and labor reform measures introduced by the country’s recently-installed president, Javier Milei. [more]

FRANCE | French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, citing a “very high terrorist threat” linked to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, says security operations across France will be increased for the New Year’s holiday, with more than 90,000 law enforcement officers expected to be deployed around the country. [more]

NATO AND RUSSIA | According to a NATO statement released today, NATO air forces were scrambled more than 300 times in 2023 in response to actions by Russian military aircraft. The statement noted that most of the encounters occurred over the Baltic Sea and that the vast majority were “safe and professional.” [more]

HUNGARY | Officials in Budapest, Hungary, say the Danube River overflowed its banks in the city yesterday, with water levels at their highest December level since 1987. Reports say early flooding in the region has not caused any major damage. [more]

RUSSIA | According to market research firm S&P Global, activity in Russia’s manufacturing sector in December increased at its fastest monthly pace since January 2017. The S&P Global report notes, however, that the expansion focused largely on the Russian domestic market and that new export orders fell in December for the second straight month. [more]

INTERNET PRIVACY | Reports say Google and its parent company Alphabet have reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company secretly tracked the internet activities of millions of people even when they set Google's Chrome browser to "Incognito" mode and other browsers to "private" browsing mode. Terms of the settlement have not yet been revealed, but reports note that the lawsuit had sought at least $5 billion. [more]

TODAY IN HISTORY | On this date in 1845, the U.S. Congress approved the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the United States. The annexation sparked the Mexican-American War over disputed territory between the Rio Grande and Nueces River. [more history]

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