1/ FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that Chinese hackers are preparing to “wreak havoc and cause real-world harm” to critical U.S. infrastructure, including water treatment plants, electrical grids, oil and natural gas pipelines, and transportation systems. Wray, appearing before the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, argued that “there has been far too little public focus” that Chinese hackers are targeting U.S. infrastructure, adding: “And the risk that poses to every American requires our attention — now.” During congressional testimony, Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said: “This is a world where a major crisis halfway across the planet could well endanger the lives of Americans here at home through the disruption of our pipelines, the severing of our telecommunications, the pollution of our water facilities, the crippling of our transportation modes—all to ensure they can incite societal panic and chaos and to deter our ability to marshal military might and civilian will.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
2/ The State Department is reportedly exploring the possibility of recognizing a Palestinian state following the end of the Gaza war. Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked State Department officials to review options for the recognition of a Palestinian state, including what a demilitarized Palestinian state would look like and how a two-state solution could be implemented in a way that assures security for Israel. While there has been no policy change, the consideration represents a major shift in American thinking, and the Biden administration has made linking normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia to the creation of a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has opposed the establishment of Palestinian state after the Israel-Hamas war. Negotiators, meanwhile, have been discussing a framework for a hostage release and six-week ceasefire. The Israeli government has also discussed an internal plan to exile top Hamas officials involved in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack to a third Middle East country as a step toward ending the war in the Gaza Strip. (Axios / Wall Street Journal / Semafor / Washington Post)
3/ The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at a 22-year-high amid improving consumer confidence and a declining inflation rate. The Fed, however, continued to signal that they expect to cut rates by three-quarters of a percentage point over the course of 2024 as they gain “greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2%.” The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price index, ended 2023 at 2.6% from a year earlier – well below the 5.4% increase at the end of 2022. Interest rates, meanwhile, have remained at 5.25% to 5.5% since last summer, after the central bank raised rates 11 times since March 2022 in an effort to catch up with inflation that soared to 40-year highs. Meanwhile, three gauges of consumer confidence all reached their highest levels since 2021. (Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN)
poll/ 53% of voters in seven swing-state would be unwilling to vote for Trump if he were found guilty of a crime. 55% said they’d be unwilling to vote for Trump if he’s sentenced to prison. Trump faces 91 criminal charges across four separate indictments. (Bloomberg)
poll/ 50% of voters said they vote for Biden if the presidential election were held today. 44% said they’d vote for Trump. (Quinnipiac)
🤡 Dept. of Taylor Swift Living Rent Free in MAGA Heads.
Taylor Swift hasn’t endorsed Biden, but Trump and his MAGA allies nevertheless declared a “holy war” on the singer-songwriter. Swift, however, is reportedly a key name on Biden’s “wish lists of potential surrogates.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity urged Swift to “think twice” before endorsing Biden – months after defending Swift from conservatives for “hating on her” and her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who has appeared in commercials for Bud Light and Pfizer.
Several pro-Trump influencers and conspiracy theorists claimed that the NFL is “rigged” in order to spread “Democrat propaganda” with the “unneeded and unwanted Taylor coverage” during the broadcast. “Calling it now: KC wins, goes to Super Bowl, Swift comes out at the halftime show and ‘endorses’ Joe Biden with Kelce at midfield.”
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro warned Swift to stay out of politics in 2024: “Don’t get involved. Don’t get involved in politics; we don’t want to see you there.”
Newsmax host Greg Kelly accused Swifties of “elevating her to an idol […] and you’re not supposed to do that. In fact, if you look it up in the Bible, it’s a sin!”
Earlier this month, Fox News host Jesse Waters claimed that Swift was a “Pentagon asset” developed at a NATO meeting to help Democrats as part of an “election interference psyop.”
Trump, meanwhile, reportedly told allies that he is “more popular” than Swift, and that no amount of celebrity endorsements will save Biden.
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