3.18.2024

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Good morning. It's Monday, March 18, and we're covering the start of a long-awaited fraud trial, one of the best sports week of the year, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Autonomy Trial

Mike Lynch, founder of software company Autonomy, is headed to court today in what US prosecutors have called the “largest fraud in the history” of Silicon Valley.

 

In 2011, Hewlett-Packard—seeking to expand its profile in software—purchased UK-based Autonomy, which provides data insights to companies, for $11B. Less than a year later, HP reduced its value by $8.8B, accusing Autonomy of falsifying revenue and accounting figures for the two years before the deal. Lynch accused HP of mismanaging the company post-sale, including by firing half its staff. In 2019, a US judge sentenced Autonomy’s former CFO to five years in prison on charges of wire and securities fraud. Today, Lynch faces 16 similar counts. 

 

Lynch was known as Britain’s Bill Gates at the time of the sale, later advising the British prime minister and serving on the board of the BBC (see his TEDx Talk). He currently runs an investment firm, London-based Invoke Capital.

 

March Madness Unveiled 

The 68-team field for the 2024 men's college basketball tournament was revealed yesterday, with the defending champion University of Connecticut (31-3) taking the top overall seed. The Huskies were joined by the other three No. 1 seeds in Houston (30-4), Purdue (29-4), and North Carolina (27-7). See a printable bracket with the full field here.

 

The women's bracket is expected to be one of the most exciting in the league's history. Three-seeded defending champions LSU and star Angel Reese look to capture back-to-back titles a year after beating No. 1 seed Iowa (led by superstar Caitlin Clark) in the final game. Meanwhile, the South Carolina Gamecocks—who notched a 32-0 regular season—enter as the betting favorites to win the title. See the whole field here.

 

Not an expert, but have a little basketball knowledge? Your odds of a perfect bracket are roughly one in 130 billion

 

Eruptions in Iceland

Southern Iceland was hit with its fourth volcanic eruption in the past three months over the weekend, prompting the evacuation of thousands from a nearby town and tourist attraction. As of this writing, no deaths have been confirmed; however, one local worker remains unaccounted for after falling into a fissure opened by the seismic activity. 

 

The eruption comes five months after officials warned of a 9-mile-long tunnel of magma underneath the region (see previous write-up), forcing a series of smaller eruptions and causing the ground level of the area to drop by almost 3 feet. The country's volcanic activity is largely driven by its position along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, placing it between the boundary of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

 

See livestream footage of the activity here

In partnership with SmartAsset

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1. "Journal of Retirement Study Winter" (2020). The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please follow the link to see the methodologies employed in the Journal of Retirement study.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Usher wins entertainer of the year, "The Color Purple" wins best film at 55th NAACP Image Awards; see full list of awardees (More)

> David Seidler, Oscar-winning screenwriter known for "The King's Speech," dies at 86 (More) | Byron Janis, American classical pianist known for cultural diplomacy performances in the Soviet Union and Cuba, dies at 95 (More)

> National Women's Soccer League season kicks off; see full team-by-team preview (More) | Chicago Bears trade QB Justin Fields to Pittsburgh Steelers; Bears widely expected to take a QB with top pick in April's draft (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with hear.com

> Engineers develop AI-assisted wearable electronic patch allowing patients who lack the use of vocal cords to communicate verbally (More) | Robotics startup Figure debuts humanoid robot powered by ChatGPT (More, w/video)

> US Defense Department contracts with Elon Musk-owned SpaceX to develop global spy satellite network, according to reports; $1.8B deal with the company's Starshield program was inked in 2021 (More)

> Scientists discover new way the Ebola virus replicates inside the body; discovery may lead to new preventive treatments for the deadly disease (More) | How Ebola works (More, w/video)

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Business & Markets

> Markets close lower Friday (Dow -0.5%, S&P 500 -0.7%, Nasdaq -1.0%), with S&P 500 notching second straight week of losses ahead of Wednesday's Federal Reserve policy statement (More)

> US trade regulators launch probe into social news aggregator Reddit over deals it struck with AI companies to license user data to train AI models (More) | News comes ahead of platform's initial public offering, with the company's valuation estimated near $6B; see previous write-up (More)

> Grant Thornton to sell majority stake in US arm to private equity firm Mountain Capital; company is the seventh-largest American accounting firm (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Early results show Russian President Vladimir Putin wins reelection with over 85% of the vote for fifth presidential term; thousands appeared to heed late opposition leader Alexei Navalny's call to protest (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Supreme Court today will review whether federal officials violated the law by urging social media to remove COVID-19 and election-related posts deemed false or misleading (More)

> South Sudan shuts down all schools in anticipation of a two-week heat wave (More) | North Korea fires ballistic missile into the sea of Japan as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits South Korea following days of joint military exercises (More)

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Etcetera
 

See St. Patrick's Day photos from across the US.

 

Divorces are down to prepandemic levels.

 

Snakes are the new high-protein superfood.

 

Visualizing the relationship between health spending and poverty.

 

What the name of every US state (and its capital) actually means.

 

Brain activity shows dogs improve concentration and relaxation.

 

Degraded coral reefs benefit from speakers with healthy reef sounds.

 

Conservationists plan aerial assault on out-of-control mice.

 

Clickbait: The $495K Michelin-star meal designed for space.

 

Historybook: President Grover Cleveland born (1837); Actress and first Black Miss America Vanessa Williams born (1963); Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes first person to walk in space (1965); Queen Latifah born (1970).

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