5.4.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Saturday, May 4, and in this weekend edition, we're covering criminal bribery charges against a US House lawmaker, evacuations in the Houston area, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

You share. We listen. As always, send us feedback at [email protected].

One Big Headline
 

US Congressman Indicted 

US Rep. Henry Cuellar (D, TX-28) and his wife have been indicted on federal bribery and conspiracy charges in connection with benefitting an oil and gas company owned by the government of Azerbaijan and a bank in Mexico. The indictment was returned by a grand jury Tuesday and unsealed by the Department of Justice Friday. 

 

The 68-year-old Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, are accused of accepting nearly $600K between December 2014 and at least November 2021. The payments were allegedly laundered through front companies and intermediaries before ending up in shell companies owned by Imelda, the DOJ said. In exchange for the money, Cuellar allegedly agreed to influence US foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan and influence legislative activity in favor of the bank in Mexico, among other promises. Cuellar maintains he and his wife are innocent. See all charges here.

 

The indictment comes more than two years after Cuellar's home and office in Laredo, Texas, were raided by FBI agents as part of an investigation into ties between Azerbaijan and US businessmen. Cuellar currently seeks his 11th term as a congressman.  

Quick Hits
 

Heavy rains in Houston area cause flooding, trigger evacuations.

Officials of Harris County, where Houston is located, have ordered residents who live along the East Fork of the San Jacinto River to evacuate due to ongoing flooding and heavy rainfall. More than 9 inches of rain have fallen in the area since Thursday. The river was expected to rise to 77 feet above sea level Friday; the river is typically 45 to 50 feet above sea level. See photos and videos here.

 

US job growth slows in April, economy adds 175,000 jobs. 

The nonfarm payroll growth for April is below the 240,000 jobs economists had expected and down from 315,000 in March. The unemployment rate rose to 3.9%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% month-over-month and 3.9% year-over-year, both below economist estimates. Analysts say the data show the labor market is cooling, potentially paving the way for interest rate cuts in late summer. 

 

Canadian police arrest three suspects in killing of Sikh activist.

The three men face charges of first-degree murder for allegedly being involved in last year's killing of Sikh Canadian Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot outside a Sikh cultural center in British Columbia. Canadian officials previously accused India of being linked to the alleged assassination, which India denies. Nijjar was involved in a movement to establish an independent Sikh homeland in India. See our previous write-up here

 

President Joe Biden presents Medal of Freedom to 19 recipients.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest honor given to civilians. This year's recipients include NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa, who was the first Hispanic woman in space; Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, who is the most decorated women's swimmer; and actress Michelle Yeoh, who in 2023 became the first Asian to win an Academy Award for best actress. See the full list here.

 

Trump's former senior aide Hope Hicks testifies in hush money trial.

Friday concluded the 11th day of former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in Manhattan. Hick's testimony revolved around the Trump campaign's response to allegations about Trump and women, including a 2016 Wall Street Journal article on a hush money deal involving former Playboy model Karen McDougal.  

 

China successfully launches mission to the far side of the moon.

China, which aims to put astronauts on the moon by 2030, launched its Chang'e-6 lunar probe (named after a Chinese mythical moon goddess) Friday to collect samples from the moon's less-explored region. The 53-day mission, if successful, would make China the first nation in the world to retrieve samples from the side of the moon that faces away from Earth.

In partnership with Pacagen

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Repeat after us: Fewer sniffles, more snuggles. 1440 readers can get 15% off Pacagen’s Cat Allergen Neutralizing Spray right here with code 1440May2024.

Please support our sponsors!

Humankind
 

Eleven-year-old boy in Missouri raises money to pay off his classmates' lunch debt. (More)

 

Connecticut barbers sprint from their shop to save a little girl from running onto a busy street. (More, w/video) 

 

Couple, who grew up together after being hospitalized as premature infants at the same hospital at the same time, welcome their own child. (More

 

Nine-year-old boy in Oklahoma springs to action to get help for his parents, who were injured after a tornado tossed their car into a tree. (More

 

Oregon man, who has been battling cancer for eight years, wins $1.3B lottery jackpot. (More

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Humankind(ness)
 

Today, we're sharing a story from reader Kayla P. from Seattle, Washington. 

 

"At my sister's graduation recently, there were no assigned seats. My family had a very large party and was trying to sit together. I found myself the lone seat-saver in a sea of thousands trying to also secure their spots. I was on the phone with my mom, trying to get everyone to find me ASAP, and a man sitting with his family in the seats behind me must've seen how stressed I was. He offered to help save the seats with me, even spreading his jacket out to ensure we kept as many as possible. I struggle with anxiety in social situations, and this complete stranger stepped in to help alleviate some of that in a moment of need. I'm truly grateful."

 

What act(s) of kindness did you experience this week? Tell us here.

Etcetera
 

Bookkeeping

> Recently released data show 2.5% of all US births in 2022 were the result of IVF. 

> 2024 Kentucky Derby menu to feature 10,000 lbs of smoked brisket and more.

> Americans bought more than $1.6B of ramen in the 52 weeks ending April 13.

 

Browse 

> America's most scenic drives.

> The history of Cinco de Mayo (and its significance in the US). 

Heartwarming foreign phrases and words without English equivalents

> A visual guide to the Kentucky Derby

> ... and why do derby attendees drink mint juleps?

> Airbnb unveils new "icons" listings, including a floating house.

 

Listen 

> How storage units became a $45B business.

 

Watch 

> How to increase your happiness

> A collection of America's funniest animal videos.

... and a baby flying squirrel takes flight for the first time.

 

Long Read 

> The story of New Orleans' most infamous cop who ordered a hit on a civilian.

> From toxic fungus to soy sauce superstar: the origins of koji mold.

 

Most Clicked This Week: How your state ranks in teacher pay

 

Historybook: Actress Audrey Hepburn born (1929); First Grammy Awards held (1959); Four killed, nine wounded after National Guard open fire at Kent State University (1970); Margaret Thatcher becomes first female prime minister of the UK (1979).

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- Audrey Hepburn

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