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Good morning. It's Thursday, June 20, and we're covering a new anti-West defense pact, a spike in deaths during this year's Hajj, and much more. First time reading? Join over 3.5 million intellectually curious readers. Sign up here.

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Need To Know

Putin, Kim Sign Pact

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement yesterday in Pyongyang, reportedly the first such document between the two countries to include limited defense aid in over 30 years. The pair announced the deal amid Putin's first official visit to the country in a quarter of a century, their second meeting since September.


The two nations, beyond sharing a small 10-mile land border, have a history of alignment since World War II. Although neither side released a text of the agreement, Putin indicated in a joint press conference the countries would provide mutual assistance in the face of aggression, without elaborating on those terms. The leaders also alluded to increased economic ties as well as the sharing of military munitions, technology, and intelligence. 


The pact comes days after reports surfaced the two countries have likely illicitly traded arms amid Russia's war in Ukraine. Read our previous write-up here.


Hajj Heat Deaths

Hundreds of people have died this week in Saudi Arabia from suspected heat-related illness while performing the Hajj pilgrimage. While the death toll was not immediately available, estimates have ranged from 550 people to over 600 as of this writing.


The five-day Hajj pilgrimage is a sacred Islamic journey to the city of Mecca involving a series of rituals (see more). It is one of the largest mass gatherings in the world, this year attracting over 1.8 million people. While details surrounding the reported deaths were not available, temperatures this week reportedly surpassed 125 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade and over 2,700 people were confirmed to have been treated for heat-related illness. 


While security efforts at the Hajj have worked to reduce the threat of deadly crowd surges, heat is also increasingly a concern. Dates for the Hajj follow a lunar calendar moving between seasons, with researchers warning the years 2047-52 and 2079-86 may pose a heightened heat risk for Hajj pilgrims.


OpenAI Door Closes, Another Opens

OpenAI cofounder Ilya Sutskever announced a new venture yesterday, Safe Superintelligence Inc. The project will seek to launch a “safe” artificial general intelligence, hearkening to OpenAI’s founding goals but without its current pressures from investors and consumers. 


The project—cofounded by OpenAI colleague Daniel Levy and Apple’s former AI lead Daniel Gross—comes after Sutskever announced his departure last month from OpenAI. Sutskever was part of the OpenAI board that ousted CEO Sam Altman in the fall, though he soon backtracked and worked to bring Altman back. Sutskever did not provide much detail on Safe Superintelligence, including its investment structure. He says safety would be engineered into the AI system from the beginning rather than adding fixes in response to discovered lapses. 


Artificial general intelligence describes a general purpose data system with human-like capabilities, with the term “superintelligence” referring to a system whose capabilities extend beyond humans. Listen to an explainer of AGI here.

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7 Mistakes When Choosing A Financial Advisor


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Research suggests that people who work with a financial advisor feel more at ease about their finances and could end up with about 15% more money to spend in retirement.* While hiring a financial advisor can help you maximize your retirement nest-egg, there are some potential pitfalls you should be aware of before you choose who to hire. See the list.


SmartAsset's no-cost tool can help you avoid some of the common mistakes in looking for an advisor. Try their free quiz to get matched with up to 3 vetted financial advisors serving your area, each legally bound to work in your best interest. It's never too late to plan to work toward a comfortable retirement. Get your financial advisor matches today.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> MLB holds moment of silence at all 15 games yesterday to honor Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays (More

> James Chance, No Wave music icon and frontman for the Contortions, dies at 71 (More) | Justin Timberlake's lawyer says the singer will "vigorously" fight his DWI charges (More)

> Rappers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland strike deal with X for exclusive distribution rights for their Verzuz content (More) | "Inside Out 2" continues record-breaking haul at box office for animated films, pulling in $49M in last two days (More)


Science & Technology

In partnership with EnergyX

> Saturn's moon Titan has waves strong enough to erode its coastlines, new study suggests; filled with liquid methane and ethane, Titan is the only other place in the solar system home to active oceans, lakes, and rivers (More)

> Researchers create a spinal cord injury "atlas," mapping out the molecular changes of different cell types following nerve damage; study also yielded a potential gene therapy for spinal injuries (More

> New algorithm spots AI hallucinations—false information generated by the platforms, presented as real—roughly 80% of the time (More) | Heard about generative AI but don't know how it works? See a 101 overview here (More, w/video)

From our partners: The Lithium Boom! It takes 10,000 smartphone batteries to make one EV battery. With 350M+ EV sales projected by 2030, lithium demand is soaring. Enter EnergyX. Their tech extracts up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods, earning them $90M+ of investments from GM and others. Last week, they announced Project Lonestar, a US lithium plant supported by a $5M DOE grant. Invest in EnergyX at $9/share before it changes June 27.


Business & Markets

> Inflation in the UK fell to lowest level in three years, with year-over-year price rises slowing to 2% in May; economic data comes ahead of July 4 national elections (More)

> UK regulator initiates investigation into whether Hewlett Packard Enterprise's planned $14B acquisition of Juniper Networks would result in competition concerns in the country (More)

> Luxury sneaker maker Golden Goose delays initial public offering in Milan, citing market volatility due to European Parliament elections and France's snap election; Golden Goose—worn by celebrities like Taylor Swift—was set to go public tomorrow (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, approaches northeast Mexico and the Texas coast with winds of 40 miles per hour (More) | Hurricane season is expected to have above-average activity; see previous write-up (More)

> Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) signs law making the state the first to require the Ten Commandments to be posted in every public school classroom (More

> Last year's trail derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, released toxic chemicals to 16 states, according to a new study; pollutants disappeared within three weeks after the accident (More)



> Investigating the Mandela Effect

Clearer Thinking | Staff. Some collective memories may be mistaken. Evidence suggests a visual Mandela effect—when many people collectively misremember what a logo looks like, for example—does, in fact, exist. (Read)


> The Short Creek Running Club

Runner's World | Paige Kaptuch. When Darlene Stubbs left a polygamous sect at 15 years old, she had to leave her community behind. She found community running alongside former sect members. (Read)

In partnership with SmartAsset

How is Inherited Property Taxed?


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 Inflation Explained 


No one likes rising prices, period.


But have you ever wondered why the Federal Reserve targets 2% inflation? Or how economies get sucked into deflationary spirals? And how does the gold standard work, anyway?   


Want answers to the above (and much more)? Sign up for 1440's upcoming Business & Finance email series and receive our preview edition on inflation, along with the best expert-curated resources from across the internet. 


Click here to join


Stonehenge to see rare celestial event this week


... after being sprayed in orange paint by protesters.


Watch the rescue of a baby moose trapped in an Alaska lake.


Pepper, the potty-mouthed parrot, is up for adoption


Artist makes sculptures made out of vintage wallpaper.


Training the next generation of space doctors.


What actually is the Paris Olympics' floppy red hat mascot?


Bathroom emergency leads to PGA Tour rule change


Clickbait: Is bunting becoming extinct?


Historybook: Samuel Morse patents the telegraph (1840); Beach Boys cofounder Brian Wilson born (1942); Mobster Bugsy Siegel is murdered (1947); Actress Nicole Kidman born (1967); Manjil–Rudbar earthquake kills 35,000-50,000 (1990).

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- Brian Wilson

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*Disclosure: "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.

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

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