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Wisconsin Hit-And-Run Verdict

Photo courtesy of ABC7 Chicago

A Wisconsin jury yesterday convicted 40-year-old Darrell Brooks Jr. of killing six people and injuring at least 60 others in November after his SUV slammed into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha.

Brooks was found guilty of all 76 charges in the deadly hit-and-run, including six counts of intentional homicide and 61 counts of recklessly endangering safety. Each homicide count carries a mandatory life sentence, while each of the counts for reckless endangerment carries a maximum sentence of more than 17 years in prison. 

Brooks, who pleaded not guilty in February, had represented himself at trial after firing his public defenders. He also initially pleaded guilty by insanity and later withdrew the plea. The trial was marked by a series of clashes between Brooks and the judge, including Brooks arguing with the judge and taking his shirt off after being removed from the courtroom.

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Hong Kong Publisher Convicted

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was convicted of fraud related to lease violations yesterday, in what is seen as the latest prosecution against Lai for his past activism as part of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong (see background). The 74-year-old Lai, founder of the now-shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, is already serving a 20-month prison sentence for organizing unauthorized assemblies.

Authorities have cracked down on activists under a Beijing-drafted national security law enacted in 2020 (see 101), which criminalized a range of dissent with penalties of up to life in prison following mass pro-democracy protests in 2019. 

In the current case, Lai and two former executives at his company, Next Digital, had sublet part of their office space to another firm owned by Lai. The court found the nature of the firm’s business violated lease terms with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp., a government corporation.

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Adidas Drops Ye Partnership

Sportswear company Adidas announced it is immediately ending its collaboration with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, over a series of antisemitic interviews and controversial social media posts.

After increased pressure from consumers and staff, the brand announced it will end production of the popular Yeezy products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. The news comes months after Ye publicly challenged the brand over ownership of the design.

Yeezy products represent an estimated 4% to 8% of sales for Adidas, and executives of the German-based company estimate it will lose nearly $247M in 2022 net income. Ye is worth an estimated $2B—without the Adidas deal, the rapper is at risk of losing approximately $1.5B. See a timeline of the relationship here.

Separately, Gap announced it will halt the sale of Yeezy Gap products, joining a growing list of people and companies distancing themselves from Ye, including Balenciaga, talent agency CAA, and Vogue.

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Iranian Protesters Charged

Iranian authorities have indicted over 500 protesters this week amid nationwide unrest, including several who face a possible death sentence. The protests began last month following the in-custody death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained for violating the country’s dress code for women (see background).

Judicial officials brought various charges against hundreds of individuals across several provinces for protest-related offenses, including sharing propaganda and disturbing the peace. Iranian leaders have blamed the unrest on outside agitators seeking to destabilize the country. Despite the charges—which Iranian officials indicate are designed to stop further protests—workers and university students continue to plan protests and strikes around the country. See a map of protest activity here.

Today marks the 40th day since Amini’s death, the traditional conclusion of a 40-day mourning period.

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America’s Test Scores Drop

National test scores released yesterday show the largest math declines ever recorded for fourth and eighth grade students across the country, while reading levels dropped to the lowest level since 1992.

The results are from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card,” which tests hundreds of fourth and eighth graders and was administered for the first time since 2019. The results are considered the first nationally represented study of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on learning. 

The findings show math scores for eighth graders fell in nearly every state, with the average math score dropping eight points since 2019, from 282 to 274, out of a possible 500. The average math score for fourth graders fell by five points. In reading, both grades’ averages fell three points. Researchers say a 10-point decline or gain is equivalent to about a year of learning. See the data breakdown for math here and reading here.

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