Dow Jones Industrial Average passes 40,000 for the first time ever

The Dow Jones Industrial index exceeded 40,000 for the first time Thursday, extending a strong year of stock market gains. The Dow hit 40,000.54 before dropping back, but it was the first time it had crossed that threshold; The Dow is now up about 6% so far this year. Markets were bolstered by gains from staple retailers like Walmart (WMT) which beat earnings expectations on Thursday morning and rose nearly 6%. Airlines, utilities and Big Tech stocks were largely higher.

Per CNN, markets rallied to new record highs after the latest Consumer Price Index showed a cooldown for the first time in months, increasing hopes that the Federal Reserve could start cutting interest rates as soon as September. The Labor Department reported the consumer price index inflation rate was a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in April maintaining the annual inflation rate at 3.4%.

In response to the news, President Joe Biden shared on X: “This is great news for Americans’ retirement accounts and another sign of confidence in America’s economy. I’m building an economy from the middle out and bottom up — and our investments are making a difference.”

The S&P 500 crossed 5,000 for the first time in February, largely driven by the performance of seven big companies called the “Magnificent Seven” — Nvidia, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Tesla. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P have all posted strong year-to-year increases with the Dow up 6% in 2024. The S&P and Nasdaq have increased 11% this year.

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Sen. Bob Menendez reveals wife Nadine has breast cancer and will undergo mastectomy

Embattled New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez revealed on Thursday that his wife Nadine Menendez has breast cancer. Senator and Mrs. Menendez are charged separately in a case alleging the senator abused his position to act as a foreign agent for Egypt and Qatar and accepted bribes from several New Jersey businessmen. Senator Menendez, 70, went on trial this week; the couple have both pleaded not guilty.

Nadine Menendez’s trial had been delayed until July due to previously undisclosed health reasons. Sen. Menendez shared that Nadine, 57, is battling Grade 3 breast cancer and will also have to undergo a mastectomy. The senator said in a statement: “As a result of constant press inquiries and reporters following my wife, she has asked me to disclose her medical condition. We are of course, concerned about the seriousness and advanced stage of the disease .. We hope and pray for the best results. We ask the press and the public to give her the time, space and privacy to deal with this challenging health condition as she undergoes surgery and recovery.” Menendez added that his wife will require “follow-up surgery and possibly radiation treatment,” but did not include additional details.

A federal grand jury in New York indicted Menendez in September 2023, accusing him and his wife of having a corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen. The New Jersey Democratic senator is accused of accepting cash, gold bars, luxury wristwatches and other perks from New Jersey businessmen in exchange for official favors to benefit the businessmen and the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Senator Menendez’s attorney, Avi Weitzman, tried to distance Menendez from his wife earlier this week by arguing the two lived mostly “separate lives” and had “separate finances.” Nadine Menendez is awaiting a July 8 federal trial, and her attorneys stated that she “denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend against these allegations in court.”

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NY Rangers beat Hurricanes to clinch series; Canucks defeat Oilers 3-2 in Game 5

The NY Rangers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 at PNC Arena on Thursday night, clinching the series in Game 6 to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

The Rangers rallied after trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, with Chris Kreider scoring a hat trick in the comeback win for NY.

The Rangers will meet the winner of the Boston Bruins v. Florida Panthers series; the Panthers currently lead that series 3-2, with Game 6 set to take place on Friday.

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The Vancouver Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night at Rogers Arena. The Canucks now lead the series 3-2.

J.T. Miller scored in the final minute of the game, with Carson Soucy and Phillip Di Giuseppe both returning to the lineup and adding goals for the Canucks, while rookie goalie Arturs Silovs made 21 saves for Vancouver.

The Canucks will attempt to clinch the best-of-7 series with a win on Saturday in Edmonton.

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Minnesota Timberwolves defeat Denver Nuggets 115-70 to tie series, force Game 7

The Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Denver Nuggets 115-70 in Thursday’s Game 6 at Target Center. The series is now tied 3-3, to force the decisive Game 7 in Denver.

Anthony Edwards led the Wolves with 27 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals, while Jaden McDaniels had 21 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 10 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić had a strong showing with 22 points and nine rebounds, but Jamal Murray went just 4-of-18 from the field, resulting in the loss.

Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday in Denver, time TBD.

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2024 ACM Awards: See the full list of winners

The 2024 ACM Awards were held on Thursday evening, with the annual country music awards show airing live on Prime Video from the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, hosted once again by Reba McEntire.

Lainey Wilson won the coveted ‘Entertainer of the Year’ award, and was also awarded “Female Artist of the Year’. Chris Stapleton took home the award for ‘Male Artist of the Year,’ as well as winning ‘Album of the Year’ for ‘Higher’, and the ‘Artist-Songwriter of the Year’ award.

Megan Moroney was named ‘New Female Artist of the Year,’ with Nate Smith awarded ‘New Male Artist of the Year’, and Tigirlily Gold winning the ‘New Duo or Group of the Year’ award.  Dan + Shay won ‘Duo of the Year’, with Old Dominion awarded the ‘Group of the Year’ trophy.

Additional winners include Parker McCollum winning ‘Visual Media of the Year’ for his video, “Burn It Down”, Jordan Davis winning ‘Song of the Year’ for  “Next Thing You Know”, and Jelly Roll w/ Lainey Wilson winning ‘Music Event of the Year’ for  “Save Me”.

The 59th ACM Awards also featured performances from McEntire, Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Jelly Roll, Cody Johnson, Miranda Lambert, Post Malone, Parker McCollum, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, and Lainey Wilson. The show also featured duets from Kelsea Ballerini and Noah Kahan; Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani; and Nate Smith featuring Avril Lavigne.

For the full list of winners, head HERE.

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Snoop Dogg, Michael Bublé, Reba McEntire and Gwen Stefani named ‘The Voice’ Season 26 coaches

NBC confirmed that Snoop Dogg and Michael Bublé will join Reba McEntire and Gwen Stefani for Season 26 of the singing competition series The Voice this fall.

Snoop previously appeared as a mega mentor in The Voice Season 20, while Bublé served as an adviser to Blake Shelton’s team in Season 3; however both artists will be making their debut as coaches. Stefani first appeared as a coach on The Voice in Season 7, and McEntire joined the show in Season 24.

Season 25 of The Voice premiered in February and features McEntire, John Legend, Dan + Shay and Chance the Rapper as coaches. The two-part live finale is set to air on May 20-21.

NBC has yet to announce a premiere date for Season 26, but said it will start airing sometime this fall.

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Snoop Dogg, Michael Bublé, Reba McEntire and Gwen Stefani named ‘The Voice’ Season 26 coaches

NBC confirmed that Snoop Dogg and Michael Bublé will join Reba McEntire and Gwen Stefani for Season 26 of the singing competition series The Voice this fall.

Snoop previously appeared as a mega mentor in The Voice Season 20, while Bublé served as an adviser to Blake Shelton’s team in Season 3; however both artists will be making their debut as coaches. Stefani first appeared as a coach on The Voice in Season 7, and McEntire joined the show in Season 24.

Season 25 of The Voice premiered in February and features McEntire, John Legend, Dan + Shay and Chance the Rapper as coaches. The two-part live finale is set to air on May 20-21.

NBC has yet to announce a premiere date for Season 26, but said it will start airing sometime this fall.

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Helen Mirren, Pierce Brosnan to star in ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ adaptation

Helen Mirren and Pierce Brosnan have joined the cast of The Thursday Murder Club, starring alongside Ben Kingsley in the new film, which is based on British TV host and producer Richard Osman‘s novel of the same name. Chris Columbus (‘Home Alone’, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’) will write and direct the file adaptation.

The Thursday Murder Club follows a group of senior friends in a retirement home, who gather to solve murders for fun, but find themselves caught in a real case — ex-spy Elizabeth (Mirren), ex-psychiatrist Ibrahim (Kingsley) and former union activist Ron (Brosnan). Negotiations for an actress to play the fourth member of the group, Joyce, are ongoing.

Osman is best known as a British TV presenter on BBC game show ‘Pointless’ and ‘Richard Osman’s House of Games’. The Thursday Murder Club is his debut novel and the first in his ‘Thursday Murder Club’ book series. Production on the film is set to begin in the United Kingdom in June, running through September.

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Barge strike causes partial collapse of bridge between Galveston and Pelican Island, Texas

Officials confirmed on Wednesday that a barge slammed into a bridge pillar in Galveston, Texas on Wednesday, spilling oil into surrounding waters and closing the only road to a small island.

Ronnie Varela with the Galveston’s Office of Emergency Management said that the bridge leading to Pelican Island, located just north of Galveston, was hit by a barge around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when a tugboat backing out of Texas International Terminals (a fuel storage operator next to the bridge) lost control of two barges it was pushing. One of the barges also hit two telephone poles.  David Flores, a bridge superintendent with the Galveston County Navigation District, said “the current was very bad, and the tide was high. He lost it.”

There was no immediate information on damage to the bridge or if there were any injuries, but officials did say one person on the barge was knocked into the water and quickly rescued. The accident resulted in oil spilling from the barge into the bay and crews were working to clean it up, with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office adding that a large piece of the bridge fell.  Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Ray Nolen said that the barge is owned by Martin Petroleum, has a 30,000-gallon capacity, but it’s not clear how much leaked into the bay. About 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) of the waterway was shut down as a result of the spill.

Pelican Island, which is connected to Galveston by the bridge, is home to a large shipyard, Texas A&M University of Galveston, and Seawolf Park, a former immigration station that now attracts tourists to its iconic fishing pier and decommissioned U.S. Navy vessels. The bridge has one main steel span that measures 164 feet (50 meters), and federal data shows it was last inspected in December 2021. However, it’s unclear from the data if a state inspection took place after the Federal Highway Administration compiled the data. The bridge had an average daily traffic figure of about 9,100, according to a 2011 estimate.

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Biden and Trump agree to two presidential debates in late June and September

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump agreed to participate in two general election debates, on June 27 and Sept. 10.

Biden and Trump accepted an invitation from CNN to debate on June 27, with Biden sharing in a post on X: “I’ve received and accepted an invitation from @CNN for a debate on June 27th. Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place.”  Mr. Trump told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, “The answer is yes, I will accept.”

According to a press release from CNN, the first debate will take place at 9 p.m. at its studios in Atlanta, adding: “to ensure candidates may maximize the time allotted in the debate, no audience will be present. Moderators for the debate and additional details will be announced at a later date.”

Biden and Trump also both announced on Wednesday that they had also accepted an invitation from ABC News to hold a second debate on September 10.  Biden shared on X:  “I’ve also received and accepted an invitation to a debate hosted by ABC on Tuesday, September 10th. Trump says he’ll arrange his own transportation. I’ll bring my plane, too. I plan on keeping it for another four years.”

Trump later confirmed his participation in the debates, posting on his Truth Social platform: “It is my great honor to accept the CNN Debate against Crooked Joe Biden, the WORST PRESIDENT in the History of the United States and a true Threat to Democracy, on June 27th. Likewise, I accept the ABC News Debate against Crooked Joe on September 10th. Thank you, DJT!”

In a subsequent Truth Social post Wednesday afternoon, Trump pushed for an additional debate on Fox News, which he said would take place on Oct. 2 and be hosted by anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

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