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Good morning. It's Thursday, April 4, and we're covering a mass culling due to Avian influenza, layoffs at Amazon, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know

Taiwan Quake Aftermath

At least nine people are dead and over 1,000 injured in Taiwan, while scores of people are trapped in rubble after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck off the island's eastern coast Wednesday morning local time. The casualties are expected to rise as rescue efforts continue. The earthquake is the strongest to hit Taiwan since 1999 when a 7.7 magnitude quake killed roughly 2,400 people.


The earthquake was centered off the coast of the mountainous Hualien County, which lies about 100 miles south of the capital of Taipei. It toppled or swayed buildings, triggered landslides, and caused power outages across the region. The quake was followed by subsequent aftershocks of up to 6.4 magnitude and set off a tsunami of about 1 foot (see 101). At least 70 people were confirmed safe after being stranded in mines near Hualien. View photos and videos of the damage here


Taiwan sits on the "Ring of Fire"—a set of tectonic boundaries that encircle the Pacific basin and are home to roughly 75% of the world's volcanoes and 90% of earthquakes. 


Bird Flu Fears

Nearly 2 million chickens were slaughtered earlier this week after a number of the animals tested positive for bird flu at a Texas egg production plant. The culling is the latest effort by agricultural companies to ward off the spread of the virus, which has affected more than 82 million birds across the US since 2022 (stats here).  


Classified as H5N1, the virus is a variant of influenza A—the family that includes strains responsible for the seasonal and epidemic flu in humans (see overview). The proteins on the H5N1 surface correspond to receptors found in many bird species, and infection in humans (who lack such receptors) is rare and typically results in mild symptoms. Globally, fewer than 500 human deaths have been linked to H5N1 since 2003.  


Cal-Maine Foods, the nation's largest egg producer, said the affected poultry represented less than 4% of its flock. The second-ever human case reported in the US was confirmed in Texas this week—incidentally contracted from infected cattle.


Amazon's Cloud Layoffs

Amazon confirmed yesterday it was laying off hundreds of employees from its cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services. The layoffs—impacting sales and marketing roles as well as employees focused on technology at its physical stores—come amid a broader company pivot on grocery store strategy.


Earlier this week, Amazon announced it was ending its “Just Walk Out” program, which is used in over half of its more than 40 Amazon Fresh stores nationwide. The program allowed customers to skip checkout lines by relying on automated cameras and sensors, and was reportedly supplemented by more than 1,000 Indian workers reviewing and labeling transactions. This week, Amazon said it will pivot to Dash Carts, whereby a screen and scanner in grocery carts will allow shoppers to manually scan their items as they shop.


Yesterday’s announcement marks the latest in layoffs for Amazon, following 27,000 job cuts since late 2022. The news comes as sales for Amazon’s $90B cloud business have slowed in recent quarters.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> NCAA Women's Elite Eight matchup between Iowa and LSU hauled in 12.3 million viewers, the most ever for a women's college basketball game and the biggest basketball audience for ESPN since 2012 (More) | LSU star Angel Reese declares for WNBA Draft (More) | Iowa's Caitlin Clark wins Naismith Player of the Year for second straight season (More)

> Buffalo Bills trade four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans for 2025 second-round draft pick (More)

> James Beard Foundation announces 2024 James Beard Award finalists for America's best restaurants and chefs (More)


Science & Technology

In partnership with Eli Electric Vehicles

> Pig kidney transplant recipient discharged from hospital two weeks after procedure; success is a key advance in the field of cross-species transplants (More) | New mRNA drug shows success in early clinical trials in treating propionic acidaemia, a rare genetic disease affecting metabolic function (More)

> AI researchers find method to trick leading chatbots into violating ethics guidelines by repeatedly asking slightly different forms of the same question (More) | Read overview of the "many-shot jailbreak" approach (More)

> Microsoft and startup Quantinuum devise method to reduce the error rate for quantum computers by a factor of 800; marks a key step toward widespread adoption of the technology (More) | Quantum computing 101 (More)

From our partners: The iPad of EVs? If traditional cars are laptops, Eli Electric Vehicles’ micro-EVs are iPads. They’ve sold hundreds of their breakthrough micro-EVs in Europe. Now, you can join them as an investor as they scale in the fast-growing US market, tapping into a $470B global opportunity. You can even get 5% bonus shares in Eli when you invest by today’s deadline. Become an early Eli shareholder now.


Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 +0.1%, Dow -0.1%, Nasdaq +0.2%); US private payrolls rise more than expected in March, while the Federal Reserve signals timing of interest rate cuts is uncertain (More

> The Walt Disney Co. and Bob Iger defeat challenge from activist investor Nelson Peltz and his hedge fund as shareholders vote to reelect full board (More) | Former President Donald Trump sues two cofounders of Trump Media and Technology Group, the owner of Truth Social, for allegedly mismanaging the company (More) | Two men plead guilty to $22M insider-trading scheme tied to Trump Media (More)

> Private equity firm Silver Lake to take entertainment company Endeavor private for $27.50 per share, valuing the company at $13B (More) | Autism Impact Fund, a venture capital firm focused on autism, raises $60M (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Ukraine signs law lowering military draft age from 27 to 25 to replenish its depleted army amid war with Russia (More) | See war updates (More) | Uganda's constitutional court largely upholds the country's anti-LGBTQ law, which allows the death penalty for certain same-sex acts (More)

> Finnish police identify bullying as motive behind school shooting outside of Helsinki that killed one student and wounded two others (More) | See our previous write-up (More)

> Midwest, Northeast brace for snowstorm and blizzard conditions through today; parts of New England to see more than 2 feet of snow (More



> The Loneliest House in the World

Architectural Digest | Annabelle Dufraigne. A look into a house on a remote Icelandic island with no electricity or running water, but a sauna and puffins for neighbors. (Read)

> 'I Wouldn’t Put My Damn Daughter in These’

The Hill | Rachel Frazin, Sharon Udasin. A group of chemicals known as PFAS have been linked to cancer and other illnesses—and may be found in a number of menstrual products, makeup, and other feminine consumer goods. (Read)

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Ranking America's healthiest and unhealthiest cities (in 2024).


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How Maya astronomers predicted solar eclipses.


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The US states leading in solar and wind power.


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Clickbait: Would you take a swim in the Chicago River?


Historybook: Ninth US President William Henry Harrison dies of pneumonia, shortest presidency ever at just 31 days (1841); American poet and activist Maya Angelou born (1928); NATO is created (1949); Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated (1968).

"Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

- Maya Angelou

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