What Happened in November 2023?


Click to Read Sections:

The Biggest News in November, 2023

In November 2023 the Texas Rangers won the “world” series, Elon Musk nailed Twitter’s coffin, Israel flooded Hamas tunnels in Gaza, Russia’s war in Ukraine stalled as US and EU support waned, a new Speaker of the House was elected, and AI capabilities advanced as Americans traveled for Thanksgiving in record numbers.

Texas Rangers are “World” Champions

For the first time in their 63-year history, the Texas Rangers are Major League Baseball world champions – although “world” champions may be a stretch since there’s only one other country represented in the MLB. What would happen if the Texas Rangers played baseball teams from other countries? How much do MLB players earn vs players abroad?

Read about the world of baseball vs the MLB world champions.

Actors Go Back to Work After SAG-AFTRA Reaches Agreement with Studios

The issue of artificial intelligence was one of the last and most difficult issues to be resolved, due to fears among actors that AI technology will be used to simulate their likeness and eventually replace them. In the new agreement there are definitions of AI-generated replicas of actors, when consent to use those replicas are needed for both stars and background actors, and compensation for both. Compensation from streaming services was also negotiated, with actors and the actor’s guild splitting money from a “success fund.” The new agreement also included raises in the minimum compensation for actors.

Elon Musk Puts Another Nail in Twitter’s Coffin

elon musk puts another nail into Twitter's coffin

IBM, Disney, Lionsgate, the European Union, and Apple have all pulled advertising from X following Elon Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory. With a six-word response to an anti-semitic post, Musk wounded Twitter deeper than his mismanagement and rebranding since he bought it for $44 billion only 13 months ago. In response to a post alleging that “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them,” Musk posted, “You have spoken the actual truth.” #goodbyetwitter

Americans Set Records for Thanksgiving Travel in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Thanksgiving travel in the U.S. surged to 55.4 million, marking the third-busiest since 2000. Roads saw 49.1 million drivers, air travel hit a high since 2005 with 4.7 million flyers, and other travel modes including cruises, buses, and trains increased by 11%. It’s notable that the cruise industry is nearing full recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Binance CEO Pleads Guilty and Resigns, But Cryptocurrency Remains Strong

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is facing a class action lawsuit in the US over his promotion of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, after its CEO plead guilty to and resigned over failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. The cryptocurrency exchange decided to make a complete exit from the U.S. market and agreed to pay billions in settlements to FinCEN, OFAC, and the Department of Justice. Even though there was a outflow of nearly a billion dollars in Ethereum after the $4.3 billion settlement, it barely dented Binance’s holdings of $64 billion. Overall, the cryptocurrency market in the USA showed resilience in the face of this major regulatory development.

AI and LLM Developments in November 2023

OpenAI Releases ChatGPT-4 Turbo

On November 8, ChatGPT integrated the functionality of browsing the web, generating images, and advanced data analysis without having to switch modes from one to another, upon which it immediately shut down completely due to overwhelming demand.

DALL-E 3 Can Now Imitate the Style of Other Images

The third generation of DALL-E, which is now integrated within ChatGPT, can now maintain a consistent style of illustration by creating images that mimick the look of other images. By including the gen_id of an image created within Dall-E 3 in a text prompt, users can mimic that style with impressive accuracy. Currently, DALL-E 3 can only copy the look of images it creates, but that capability worries some artists who fear in the future it will put them out of business by copying their style.

Sam Altman Fired as CEO of OpenAI by the Board of Directors, Then Rehired with a New Board

Sam Altman’s firing and rehiring as CEO of OpenAI highlighted tensions between its nonprofit mission for AI safety and the pressures of rapid commercial growth. This governance conflict, involving key stakeholders like Microsoft, underscored the challenges in balancing ethical AI development with profitability demands.

Following his dismissal, Altman, along with Greg Brockman and other colleagues, were set to join Microsoft to lead a new AI research team. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, indicated that all OpenAI employees would be welcomed. But nearly all OpenAI’s 700 employees signed a letter threatening to quit if Altman wasn’t reinstated and the Board of Directors did not step down. Within days an agreement was reached for Altman to resume his role as CEO with new board members.

Altman’s swift return to the CEO position, influenced in part by the overwhelming support from employees and Microsoft’s backing, reinforced his influence over OpenAI’s direction, making the organization potentially more bold and profit-focused, but also raising concerns about its risk appetite.

Autonomous Trucking Company Is Testing Self-driving Trucks Across Texas

AI robot driving a truck across Texas

Aurora is currently sending 75 autonomous truckloads across Texas each week for FedEx, Uber Freight, Warner and Schneider, just to name a few. For now, a driver is sitting behind the wheel, and an AI operations specialist is in the passenger seat on shipping routes from Dallas to Houston and back, and Fort Worth to El Paso and back. But by next year the trucks will haul freight completely driverless, relying on AI guided by long-range lidar, radar and cameras.

International News of November 2023

Haiti Gangs Rule a Country Amid Near Lawlessness

The vacuum of power left after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 led to the rule gangs in a state of near lawlessness in many areas of the country. About 200 gangs, roughly half of which are in the capital, Port-au-Prince, control daily life in the communities under their rule. Their activities include extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking, murder, and sexual violence. The national police cannot deter them, because they are undermanned, underpaid, and underequipped, plus have been infiltrated by, and are in collusion with, the gangs.

Israel, Hamas War Developments in November 2023

In November 2023, the Israel-Hamas conflict saw continued violence and humanitarian crises in Gaza. Israeli tanks advanced on Gaza City’s Al Shifa hospital, leading to international condemnation. Despite UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling for a ceasefire, the death toll in Gaza rose while Israel continued pounding targets with bombs and missiles – even in “safer” zones of southern Gaza. The tunnels used by Hamas were flooded with a gel that expands upon detonation, sealing the openings which are often booby-trapped.As of the end of November 2023, the civilian death toll in Gaza, resulting from the conflict with Israel, was reported by Palestinian health authorities to have risen above 15,000.

Israel uses expanding gel in Hamas tunnels

Why did Hamas attack Israel in the first place?

A Hamas leader said that the situation with occupied Gaza and the West Bank was in stalemate for too long, and the terror attack and inevitable response from Israel was designed to start a larger war in the region. For now, however, Israel seems determined to wipe Palestinians out of Gaza completely, pushing more and more civilians into the “corral” of Rafah which abuts Egypt.

Another Winter Finds Ukraine and Russia Stalled with US Support Waning

In October 2023, the Russia-Ukraine war saw intensified fighting, especially in the northeastern Kupiansk-Lyman area and Avdiivka. Russia escalated missile and drone attacks across Ukraine, causing civilian casualties and damage. Diplomatically, international support for Ukraine continued, while Russia sought to strengthen its alliances and increase military spending. Meanwhile, US congressional support for ongoing aid to Ukraine is weakening. Congress passed a short-term funding bill to prevent a government shutdown, but excluded additional Ukraine aid amid debates tying it to U.S. immigration policy and non-defense spending cuts.

US Politics – Abortion, Drugs, Guns, and the Culture War

America Learns More About the New Speaker of the House

According to an article from Rolling Stone, the newly elected House speaker has ties to the far-right New Apostolic Reformation — which is hell-bent on turning America into a religious state. He flies a right-wing religious extremism flag outside his Congress office.

Mike Johnson's office flag

The “An Appeal to Heaven” flag was first flown during the American Revolution. More recently, it was adopted by a network of Apostolic Reformation leaders who believe they have a mandate from God for Christianity to conquer religion, family, government, education, arts and entertainment, media, and business. And even more recently, the white flag with an evergreen tree flew prominently over the January 6th insurrection.

appeal to heaven flag flown at the January 6 insurrection

November 17 Government Shutdown Deadline Averted with Continuing Resolutions

Three days before the deadline, the House approved newly elected Speaker of House Mike Johnson’s two-step continuing resolution for averting a government shutdown. Johnson found himself in the same predicament that led to the former Speaker’s demise – seeking compromises to which the House Freedom Caucus, made up of roughly three dozen lawmakers, objected. The Caucus’ members wanted budget cuts and new policies for border security. Of the 222 Republicans in the House, 93 voted against it, for a final vote of 336-95, thanks to all but two of the Democrats. The bill passed the Senate the next day. The bill was supported by Democrats because it kept spending at its current levels, didn’t include riders to restrict abortion, or fund more border security, and would extend the farm bill for another year, SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. It also doesn’t address additional money for Israel or Ukraine.

Elbow Jabs and Schoolyard Trash-Talking in Congress

Oklahoma Senator and Teamsters President Engage in Trash-Talk Posturing Over a Twitter Exchange During a Senate Committee Hearing – Following a heated congressional hearing in the summer, the President of the Teamsters and Oklahoma Senator Markwayne Mullin took their exchange to Twitter, where the Teamster wrote:

“Greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self made. In reality, just a clown & fraud. Always has been, always will be. Quit the tough guy act in these senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, Anytime cowboy. #LittleManSyndrome”

President of the Teamsters

In a scene that portrays the current state of affairs on Capitol Hill, during a hearing this month the Senator read the Tweet aloud, and then challenged the Teamster to fight “right here, right now”, and to “stand your butt up”. The committee Chairman Bernie Sanders intervened. The 5’8″ Senator Mullin competed in three professional MMA fights with a record three wins and zero losses – one by TKO and two by submission.

McCarthy Elbow Jabs One of Eight Republicans Who Voted Him Out – Meanwhile in the US House of Representatives, Tim Burchett, who was one of eight Republicans who voted to remove the former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, said McCarthy elbowed him in the kidneys as he was speaking to reporters in a hallway. McCarthy denied it, saying if he had kidney punched Burchett he’d be on the ground.

God Told the QAnon Shaman to Run for US Congress

Jacob Chansley, better known as the QAnon Shaman, was the most recognizable figure in the January 6th insurrection because he wore face paint, horns, and animal skins while breaching the US Capitol Building. He pleaded guilty to taking part in the riot and he’s still serving part of the sentence, disqualifying him from voting in the next election. However, he’s still eligible to run for Congress. The House seat is open because Debbie Lesko, a member of the far-right Republican Freedom Caucus in Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election results, is retiring. And even though the Shaman has no campaign staff or money, he’s confident because in his words, “I think my chances of winning are good, otherwise God wouldn’t have asked me to run.”

The QAnon Shaman

QAnon is a debunked conspiracy theory that emerged in 2017, claiming an elite global group including Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates were Satan-worshipping pedophiles who secretly ruled the world. The conspiracy was shaped by Q, an anonymous online figure who posted cryptic Internet messages, and spread by QAnon followers like the QAnon Shaman.

Supreme Court Hears Case Restricting Guns from Domestic Abusers

While the decision won’t come until next summer, the Supreme Court heard a case challenging a Texas civil court’s prohibition of gun possession by a man it found committed domestic violence. The court suspended his state license to carry a firearm, and prohibited him from possessing a gun – even though he hadn’t been convicted of a criminal offense (yet). Justice Elena Kagan showed her predjudice against gun ownership when she said, “It’s so obvious that people who have guns pose a great danger to others”. Clarence Thomas, meanwhile, suggested it may be too easy for state courts to deny a gun to someone in a civil proceeding, absent a criminal conviction.

The ruling may have implication for other gun rights cases in the wake of the 2022 high court precedent, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, which said the State of New York didn’t have the ability to restrict carrying a gun outside the home. It could also affect the case of Hunter Biden, who lied about his drug addiction when purchasing a gun. The Supreme Court will also hear a case challenging the prohibition on bump stocks, like the one used in the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival held at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Democrats Win Elections Campaigning on Abortion Rights

Elections on November 7 saw Democrats win in many states by focusing on abortion rights. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade last year, Democrats have made abortion the cornerstone of their campaigns and advertising.

In Kentucky, the Democrat Governor won a second term against the Republican candidate who supported an abortion ban with no exceptions. In Virginia, Democrats won control of both chambers after an avalanche of advertising focused on abortion. In Pennsylvania, Democrats won a seat on the State Supreme Court after a similar flurry of abortion rights advertising. And in Ohio, a ballot measure establishing a right to abortion in the State Constitution won by a double-digit margin, a striking demonstration of support for abortion rights in a conservative state that Donald J. Trump won twice by convincing margins.

A Senate Panel Tries To Circumvent Tommy Tuberville’s Blockade Of Military Promotions

blocking military promotions

For the past nine months Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has been holding up military promotions because he opposes reimbursements to military personnel seeking out-of-state abortions. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade and states started enacting bans, the military began reimbursing expenses incurred when service members traveled out of state to get an abortion. Senator Tuberville has leveraged a procedural hold to block the progress of these military promotions, requiring the Senate to either vote on the roughly 400 promotions individually, or find another way. The Senate Rules Committee will take up a resolution Tuesday that could allow consideration of 350 nonpolitical military promotions at one time, bypassing Tuberville’s blanket hold. That move would require the votes of at least nine Republican Senators, which is possible given growing concern that the promotion blockade is affecting military readiness. Republicans such as Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham may support a Democrat resolution if the matter is not resolved by this Christmas.

Letters Containing Fentanyl Sent to Election Offices Halts Vote Counting

fentanyl letters sent to election offices

Public officials in California, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington state have reported receiving suspicious mail. Most of the letters appear to have targeted election offices. Election offices across Washington state had received envelopes on Wednesday that contained powdery substances one of which received by election officials Wednesday in King County, Washington – home to Seattle – confirmed as fentanyl. Election offices in Fulton County, Georgia – which includes much of Atlanta – also received suspicious letters.

Ohio Becomes the 24th State to Legalize Marijuana

US map showing states with recreational marijuana

Voters in Ohio voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the November 7 election. The states are joining almost two dozen states across the county that have approved recreational use. Nationwide, 22 states, two territories and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 37 states and two more territories allow medical marijuana. The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal in even more states than is recreational use.

Palestinian-American Representative Censured Over the Saying “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free”

Muslim representative censured

The first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress has been censured by a vote of 234 to 188, with four Republicans voting against and 22 Democrats voting in support of the resolution. At the heart is Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s criticism of Israel and support of Palestinians amid Israel’s war against Hamas is the saying “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Jews see the expression as a call for removing Israel, which occupies the area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, as a nation. But Tlaib responded by saying,

“It is important to separate people and governments. No government is beyond criticism. The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent, and it’s been used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation”.

Rashida Tlaib

In the month since Hamas attacked Israel, at least 10,000 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have died from Israeli bombs, missiles, and artillery.

Trump Watch

Civil Fraud Trial

Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York accuses him of violating a New York law against “repeated fraudulent or illegal acts or otherwise demonstrate persistent fraud or illegality in the carrying on, conducting or transaction of business.” Trump has been fined twice for violating a gag order and calls the charges the “weaponization of the justice system”. To be fair, the District Attorney Letitia James campaigned for her elected office on the promise she would investigate Trump’s business dealings. Trump’s conduct in court was combative, often avoiding direct answers and using the opportunity to boast about his wealth and properties.

Trump Election Interference Case in Georgia Has More Plea Deals

Kenneth Chesebro, an attorney and one of the co-defendants alongside former President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty to a single felony count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Scott Hall, a Georgia bail bondsman, also pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties. The trial is expected to overlap with the November election next year. If Donald Trump were to be president again and found guilty in a criminal trial, it would be an unprecedented situation, and the exact implications would likely be determined through a complex legal process, potentially involving the Supreme Court.