5.14.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, May 14, and we're covering the corruption trial of a US senator, a surge in GameStop shares, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Menendez Bribery Trial

The federal corruption trial for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) began with jury selection in Manhattan yesterday over charges he and his wife, Nadine, accepted bribes from three wealthy businessmen in exchange for political favors.

 

The indictment alleges Menendez received over $100K in gold bars, $486K in cash, and a luxury car in exchange for using his political position to influence military sales and other deals benefiting the governments of Egypt and Qatar. Menendez, who resigned in September as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, denies wrongdoing. He claims he was unaware of the business dealings, alleging they were his wife's actions. He has also cited trauma from his family's history in Cuba as the reason for the stored cash.

 

Menendez will be tried alongside two of the businessmen, while one has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify. The latest case comes after an unrelated 2015 criminal indictment against the 70-year-old three-term senator ended in a mistrial in 2017. Nadine Menendez's trial has been delayed until July for health reasons.

 

Return of Meme Stocks?

GameStop shares reached their highest level since 2022 yesterday, after a leader of the meme-stock movement posted online for the first time in three years. 

 

Keith Gill—known as "Roaring Kitty" online—was one of the leaders of Reddit's r/WallStreetBets, a forum in which he and others inspired mass trading of GameStop stock in 2021, taking aim at hedge funds with short positions against the retailer. On Sunday night, Gill again took to social media, posting a wordless meme used by gamers to indicate when something is getting serious. The post was his first since June 2021. 

 

Sunday's post was enough to send GameStop shares up nearly 75% yesterday, with trading halted at multiple points due to volatility. Other companies associated with meme stocks, including AMC and Reddit, also saw a boost. Meanwhile, hedge funds betting against GameStop saw over $1B in mark-to-market losses (see 101).

 

The 2021 meme-stock movement inspired the 2023 movie "Dumb Money," starring Paul Dano as Keith Gill. Watch the trailer here

 

New Exascale Supercomputer

The world's fastest supercomputer remains Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Frontier system in Tennessee, ranking No. 1 in the semiannual list of the 500 most powerful systems. However, it is no longer the only exascale machine on the list, with the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility's Aurora system in Illinois taking the No. 2 spot and becoming the second-ever to break the computing barrier.

 

Both the Frontier and Aurora supercomputers are supported by the Department of Energy and can measure over a quintillion calculations per second, reaching the threshold for exascale computing (see 101). Among other applications, the massive computing power of both Frontier and Aurora are expected to help uncover insights into complex systems, including climate, artificial intelligence, and molecular-level medicine. The computing power is believed to be comparable to that of the human brain.

 

The US accounts for roughly one-third of the top 500 supercomputers, including the fastest cloud system, Eagle, which runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud. China accounts for 16% of the list. 

In partnership with EnergyX

The Lithium Boom

 

Is a modern-day gold rush happening right in front of our eyes? Lithium is the essential raw material for batteries in smartphones, computers, and now EVs. It takes 10,000 smartphone batteries to make 1 set of EV batteries, which means demand for lithium is projected to soar 20x by 2040.

 

Creating a massive opportunity for investors, Elon Musk didn’t hold back saying, “Do you like minting money? Well, the lithium business is for you.” EnergyX’s patented LiTAS™ technology extracts up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods. They’ve inked deals with top lithium producers, including POSCO, who is building a 100k ton/year plant, secured a strategic investment from GM, and won a $5M DOE grant. Most recently, they acquired a 90,000-acre mining asset that has ~5.5M tons of lithium.

 

Now EnergyX is accepting shareholders for a limited time. This is a unique opportunity to invest on the ground floor as the company is set to unlock a massive lithium supply. Learn more about becoming an EnergyX shareholder here.*

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> The 77th Cannes Film Festival kicks off today from France; see preview and most anticipated films (More) | Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof flees Iran, one week after being sentenced to eight years in prison by the Islamic Revolutionary Court (More)

> David Sanborn, six-time Grammy-winning jazz saxophonist, dies at 78 (More)

> Kendrick Lamar's "Not Like Us" diss track aimed at Drake debuts at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 (More) | Timeline of the Kendrick Lamar and Drake rap feud (More)

 

Science & Technology

> OpenAI debuts GPT-4o, an updated version of its large language model that can analyze text, speech, videos, and images; see more announcements here (More) | AI-powered search engine not unveiled; see previous write-up (More)

> New edible gel breaks down alcohol into acetic acid in the gut, helps prevent intoxication; blood alcohol levels were reduced by 50% in mouse studies, substance prevented harmful side effects from overdrinking like liver damage (More)

> Prototype brain implant shows first-ever success in decoding words patients think entirely in their mind, without any corresponding lip movement or vocalization (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 0.0%, Dow -0.2%, Nasdaq +0.3%), with Dow ending its longest winning streak of the year; investors await fresh economic data releases today and tomorrow (More)

> Melinda French Gates to resign as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in June, will receive $12.5B grant to pursue her own philanthropy; Melinda and her former husband, Bill Gates, launched the nonprofit in 2000 (More)

> UK private equity firm Permira to take Squarespace private in all-cash deal, giving the website builder an equity valuation of $6.6B; Squarespace went public in 2021 (More) | Kraft Heinz reportedly exploring sale of Oscar Mayer meats business; deal could fetch between $3B to $5B (More)

In partnership with The Ascent

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Check them out → 0% interest until nearly 2026

 
 

Politics & World Affairs

> Michael Cohen, ex-personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump, testifies in criminal hush money trial in Manhattan (More) | Trump leads President Joe Biden in five of six swing states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, new poll shows (More) | What are swing states? (More) | See latest national polls (More)

> Canadian wildfire smoke drifts into northern US, triggering air quality alerts in states including Minnesota and the Dakotas (More) | Roughly 140 fires are burning across central Canada; nearly 40 are listed as out of control (More)

> Controlled explosion brings down largest remaining part of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge, marking step toward freeing grounded Dali container ship, which crashed into the bridge in March (More, w/video) 

 

In-Depth

> Secret in the Walls

The Baltimore Banner | Tim Prudente, Stokely Baksh. A woman renovating her home in Baltimore, Maryland, discovers dozens of century-old love letters. Working with neighbors, journalists, and old archives, she uncovers the author's identity—and the story behind the affair. (Read)

 

> Breaking Free from GPS

NPR | Staff. (Podcast) With the onset of GPS, many people are losing navigation skills—which can desensitize them to their environment. Wandering, landmarks, and storytelling are several elements that can improve one's sense of direction. (Listen)

In partnership with EnergyX

How GM Is Securing Its Lithium Supply

 

The world will need to produce 3.8 million tons of lithium per year by 2035 to meet the demand for electric vehicles. General Motors is turning to one startup to unlock US-based lithium supply: EnergyX. EnergyX’s patented LiTAS™ technology can extract up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods.

 

GM led a $50 million funding round in EnergyX last year, and EnergyX is now opening up the opportunity to join them to all investors. Don’t miss out: Become an EnergyX shareholder today.*

Please support our sponsors!

Etcetera
 

NASA animation lets you dive into a black hole.

 

What it's like to film 10 million bats from a tree.

 

Visualizing the evolution of fashion brand logos.

 

Danish butter magnate's coin collection is up for sale.

 

The difference between scallions and green onions

 

Wingsuit skydivers fly through London's Tower Bridge (w/video).

 

Eggo unveils five new waffle flavors—plus limited sneakers.

 

Homeowner asked to hide his boat paints it on his fence.

 

Clickbait: Bavarian men compete in finger wrestling

 

Historybook: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embark on their famous expedition (1804); "Star Wars" creator George Lucas born (1944); Skylab, the first US space station, launched (1973); Singer Frank Sinatra dies (1998); Blues musician BB King dies (2015).

"Everybody has the choice of being a hero or not being a hero every day of their lives."

- George Lucas

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*Disclosure: This is a paid advertisement for EnergyX's Regulation A+ Offering. Please read the offering circular at invest.energyx.com/.

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