5.1.2024

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 1, and we're covering escalating campus clashes, sentencing against a billionaire cryptocurrency exchange founder, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Columbia University Crackdown

Dozens of New York City police officers entered Columbia University's campus last night after student protesters overtook an administrative building earlier in the day. The students, who were arrested and led out of the building by police, are expected to face charges, including trespassing and criminal mischief. The development marks an escalation in campus tensions over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

 

A group of protesters at Columbia seized Hamilton Hall early Tuesday (see photos), breaking windows and symbolically renaming the building as "Hind's Hall" for a 6-year-old Palestinian girl killed in Gaza. The blockade at Hamilton Hall, which has a history of student takeovers, came a day after Columbia began suspending student protesters for ignoring an ultimatum to disband a two-week-long encampment. Officials also threatened to expel students blocking Hamilton Hall. The protesters' demands include the university divesting from companies with business ties to Israel—a shared demand across US campus demonstrations. 

 

Elsewhere, Portland State University closed its campus after student protesters broke into a school library, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled its classes. Arrests across universities continued; over 1,000 people have been arrested so far. See all updates here.

 

Binance Founder Sentenced

Binance founder Changpeng Zhao was sentenced to four months in prison yesterday for violating US money laundering laws and federal sanctions at the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange. The sentence is less than the three years prosecutors had sought and the 12- to 18-month sentencing guidelines for the crime.

 

Zhao, a UAE and Canada dual citizen, pleaded guilty in November. He agreed to resign as CEO and pay a $50M fine for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, which resulted in sanctions violations linked to users in Iran, Cuba, Syria, and Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. Binance also agreed to pay $4.3B in fines and forfeiture (see 101). The news comes a month after former FTX executive Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years for fraud tied to his crypto company.

 

Under the plea agreement, Zhao waived the right to appeal any sentence up to 18 months. Zhao has an estimated $43B fortune, including his Binance ownership, and will become the richest person ever to serve time in US federal prison.

 

Newspapers Sue OpenAI

Eight regional daily newspapers sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement yesterday, the latest in an industrywide reckoning with the rise of content-dependent artificial intelligence. The outlets, including the New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune, are owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, the nation's second-largest newspaper operator. 

 

AI firms develop chatbots like OpenAI's ChatGPT by running billions of sentences from the internet through so-called large language models, training them on sentence patterns to effectively predict answers to queries (how it works). News publishers like The New York Times have sued OpenAI for using their journalism to train its models, arguing repackaging original journalism is not a fair use. Publishers also cite instances of AI falsely attributing errors to their reporting. 

 

Other media companies are opting to sign deals with AI companies to pay to license their content, including The Associated Press, Reuters, and the UK's Financial Times (see list). Reports indicate OpenAI is paying individual publishers $1M to $5M annually for such access. 

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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

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> "Hell's Kitchen" and "Stereophonic" haul in 13 nominations apiece for the 2024 Tony Awards (June 16); see complete list of nominations (More)

> UEFA Champions League semifinal kicks off; see full preview and match schedule (More) | The US and Mexico drop out of contention to jointly host 2027 Women's World Cup, will instead focus on 2031 bid (More)

> Taylor Swift claims a record-breaking top 14 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; Swift also charted 32 of the top 100 spots, a record for a female artist (More)

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Science & Technology

> Environmental Protection Agency bans consumer use of methylene chloride, a cancer-causing compound typically found in paint stripper (More) | Breast cancer screenings should begin at age 40 for women, down from 50, per recommendation from national advisory panel (More

> Researchers demonstrate first fetus-to-fetus kidney tissue transplant; carried out using kidney tissue in rats, experiment may lead to treatments for human fetuses with fatal developmental conditions (More)

> Primordial black hole capture may explain the lack of pulsars—highly magnetized neutron stars—at the center of the Milky Way, new study suggests (More) | See 1440's new video explainer on the different types of black holes and how they're created (More, w/video)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.6%, Dow -1.5%, Nasdaq -2.0%) following higher-than-expected US wage data ahead of Federal Reserve's interest rate decision today (More)

> Starbucks shares fall over 11% in after-hours trading after missing revenue and earnings estimates, reports 4% quarterly drop in same-store sales (More) | Amazon tops revenue and earnings expectations as AI boom boosts cloud-computing unit (More) | Eli Lilly shares close up nearly 6% after beating revenue and earnings estimates, raises 2024 revenue forecast by $2B (More)

> WeWork strikes $450M restructuring deal to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by end of May, rejecting financing bid from founder and former CEO Adam Neumann (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> US Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly set to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule III drug, easing federal restrictions on the substance; will require sign-off from White House Office of Management and Budget (More) | Drug scheduling 101 (More

> House Democratic leadership announces they will vote to keep House Speaker Mike Johnson (R, LA-4) in his role if Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, GA-14) forces a vote to oust Johnson (More) | Former President Donald Trump fined $9K for violating gag order nine times in criminal hush money trial in New York (More

> Indonesia's Mount Ruang volcano erupts again, less than two weeks after its first eruption since 2002; latest eruption forces 12,000 people to evacuate, prompts tsunami warning (More) | See previous write-up (More

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Historybook: Frontierswoman and sharpshooter Calamity Jane born (1852); Dwarf planet Pluto is named (1930); Empire State Building opens in NYC (1931); Country artist Tim McGraw born (1967); Actress Olympia Dukakis dies (2021).

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