A U.S. drone strike in Baghdad today killed the leader of a militant group linked to Iran that is part of Iraq’s security apparatus.
The Pentagon described the strike on a commander of the Harakat al-Nujaba group as “necessary and proportionate,” and said that no civilians were harmed.
The U.S. has recently taken several retaliatory actions against Iran-backed groups in Iraq that have repeatedly attacked American bases. But until now they had largely avoided the dense capital city. The Iraqi government called the attack a “flagrant violation of the sovereignty and security of Iraq” and “no different from a terrorist act.”
The strike comes after a series of attacks that have threatened to bring the Middle East — and the U.S. — closer to the brink of a regional war, which the Biden administration has tried to stave off since Hamas’s deadly attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. The Islamic State today claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed 84 people yesterday in Iran. The U.S. and 12 of its allies have also issued a warning to another militia group in the region, the Houthis of Yemen, who have been mounting near-daily attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
Biden faces immigration pressure from Democrats
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill debate new immigration restrictions, President Biden is under enormous pressure to stanch the flow of migrants — not just from the usual Republican critics, but also from a growing chorus of Democratic mayors and governors. In cities like Boston, Denver, Chicago and New York, officials are calling for Biden to slow the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, turning the politics of immigration upside down at the beginning of a campaign year.
Separately, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City filed a lawsuit against 17 transportation companies, accusing them of carrying out a plan by the governor of Texas to send tens of thousands of migrants to New York.
With fear and favor, Trump commands endorsements
In the three years since he was voted out of office, Donald Trump has transformed himself from a pariah among Republican elites into their top choice for president. He has commanded an overwhelming portion of the party’s support, including every member of the House Republican leadership, aided by a disciplined and methodical behind-the-scenes operation.
Trump, according to his advisers, sees gathering the formal endorsements as a public validation of his triumphant return. He pockets them by happily cajoling some politicians by phone while firing off ominous social media posts about others who don’t fall in line.
It was a bad year for American home buyers
Last year was difficult for would-be home buyers as rising prices and borrowing rates pushed many out of the market. A recent study found that just 16 percent of homes for sale last year would be considered affordable for the local median earner.
But the cost burdens varied significantly depending on location. In Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, roughly half of the houses on the market were affordable for median earners. But in the West, in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, only 0.03 percent of homes fit that description. The good news is, housing affordability is expected to improve in 2024 as mortgage rates deflate and more homes land on the market.
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The secretive inner workings of the art world
In a trial set for next week, Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch, plans to take on the auction house Sotheby’s. Rybolovlev claims that the company helped a dealer to trick him into overpaying by millions for works like Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.”
Sotheby’s denies all wrongdoing. But whatever the trial’s result, it is expected to provide a rare window into the inner, often secretive workings of the art trade, where even buyers seldom know from whom they are purchasing art — or how much it is truly worth.
The 7 keys to longevity
To live a longer life, some people experiment with cryotherapy or blast themselves with infrared lights. But aging experts are skeptical whether these actions can meaningfully extend the human life span. Instead, doctors urge everyone to think more simply, including about getting more sleep and developing a better mindset.
Here are other evidence-backed methods that may help you add more good years to your life.
His claim to fame? Destroying $3,000 handbags
Nearly all of Volkan Yilmaz’s most popular online videos begin with his slashing open an exorbitantly expensive bag or wallet. He has butchered a $2,700 Louis Vuitton bag, a $2,200 Prada purse and a $2,500 Bottega Veneta tote. But he doesn’t hate these leather items — in fact he’s obsessed with them.
Yilmaz says he cuts open the bags to show his viewers the true quality of the materials and craftsmanship — and then break down how much the item may have cost to make. “In many cases,” he said, “my estimates come in at about a tenth of what the price tag says. The markups that underpin the luxury business still shock a lot of people.”
Have an eye-opening evening.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Matthew
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