4.18.2024

 

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Good morning. It's Thursday, April 18, and we're covering a looming fight over foreign aid bills, a career-ending gambling ban, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Foreign Aid Showdown

US House leadership proposed a $95B foreign aid package yesterday consisting of three funding bills for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. The vote, expected to occur Saturday night, will come two months after the House declined to take up similar legislation passed by the Senate. Lawmakers faced renewed pressure to pass the aid after Iran's missile-and-drone attack against Israel last weekend. 

 

The package designates $61B for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, $26B for Israel and Gaza, and $8B for security in the Indo-Pacific region. The legislation is generally in line with the Senate's February bill, though roughly $10B of economic assistance grants to Ukraine were changed to loans (see breakdown). Leadership is expected to release a fourth bill composed of other GOP priorities. 

 

Speaker Mike Johnson (R, LA-4) is expected to need substantial Democratic support for the Ukraine bill, as a faction within the GOP conference opposes continued support for Ukraine. A second GOP lawmaker this week agreed to a motion to remove Johnson as speaker.

 

NBA Gambling Ban

The National Basketball Association yesterday banned Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter for life for violating the league's betting rules. Porter—who went undrafted in 2019 before one season with the Memphis Grizzlies and three in the NBA's developmental G League—averaged just over four points per game with the Raptors.

 

The NBA began investigating in March after sports betting operators flagged an $80K bet with a $1.1M payout that Porter would underperform against the Sacramento Kings. Porter left that game early with a minor ailment—and a subsequent investigation found he had leaked information about his health to the bettor. The NBA says a similar incident occurred in January and Porter bet on at least 13 games in the 2023-24 season using an associate’s account. The announcement is the NBA's first big gambling scandal since referee Tim Donaghy's felony charges in 2007.

 

In related news, the NBA play-in tournament continues, with the playoffs set to begin April 20. See the latest play-in tournament schedule and playoff picture.

 

New Sea Dragon Unlocked

Researchers have identified remnants of what may be the largest marine reptile ever discovered. The species, ichthyotitan severnensis, was believed to reach over 80 feet long, twice the length of a city bus.

 

The newly discovered species is a descendant of ichthyosaurs (sea dragons), which coexisted with dinosaurs in the late Triassic Period, 250 million to 200 million years ago. Like dolphins, the sea-bound creatures were capable of breathing air and subsisted off fish and squid. This particular fossil was discovered by a father-daughter duo in 2020 on the beaches of Somerset, England, and later corroborated by paleontologists. The duo (the daughter is now 15 years old) uncovered part of the creature’s lower jawbone, known as a surangular, estimated to reach over 6 feet. 

 

Researchers say further investigation is needed to confirm the new species’ length. It follows a 2018 study in which the study’s author discovered another species of icthyosaur, also on the beaches of Somerset.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> The 2024 Tribeca Film Festival (June 5-16) lineup revealed; includes 103 feature films from filmmakers across 48 countries (More) | Sundance Film Festival looking for new permanent venue; Park City, Utah, has hosted the festival since 1981 (More)

> Real Madrid and Bayern Munich advance from UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, will join Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in semifinals set to begin April 30 (More)

> US Justice Department to pay $100M to around 100 victims of former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar over FBI's mishandling of the sexual abuse allegations against Nassar (More)

 

Science & Technology

> New AI-powered algorithm traces metastatic cancer cells—those that have left their original tumor and traveled through the body—to their original site; assistive tool will help provide tailored treatment for patients (More)

> Evolutionary study finds the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the fight-or-flight response, developed in the earliest known vertebrates roughly 550 million years ago (More)

> Bitcoin halving event, which cuts the reward for validating new bitcoins, expected to happen by end of week (More) | Halving 101 (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.6%, Dow -0.1%, Nasdaq -1.2%); S&P 500, Nasdaq close down for fourth day as stocks are dragged down by tech giants, including Nvidia, which fell nearly 4% (More)

> Boeing faces scrutiny in two Senate hearings on aircraft safety and quality; whistleblower alleges Boeing cut corners on 787 and 777 models, panel of experts discuss previous findings on flaws in Boeing's safety culture (More) | Telehealth firm Cerebral fined $7M over privacy violations (More

> Tesla asks shareholders to reapprove CEO Elon Musk's $56B pay package, less than three months after a judge invalidated the same package; shareholders also asked to approve moving Tesla's incorporation from Delaware to Texas (More

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Politics & World Affairs

> Democratic-led Senate votes to dismiss articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (More) | Columbia University president testifies at House hearing on antisemitism (More)

> National Public Radio editor Uri Berliner resigns following five-day suspension; announcement comes after Berliner accused NPR last week of liberal bias in essay for Free Press (More) | See Berliner's essay (More) | See NPR's response (More)

> Hawaii's attorney general releases report on lack of preparedness in advance of August 2023 wildfire that killed 101 people; Maui Fire Department had limited equipment, poorly stocked fire engines while fire hydrants lost water supply (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Cloud Under the Sea

The Verge | Josh Dzieza. While the internet may appear wireless, it is powered by a vast network of undersea cables. When those physical cables break, a small group of ships is responsible for keeping 99% of the world's data online. (Read)

 

> Invented Words for What We Feel

The Marginalian | Maria Popova. Excerpts from John Koenig's 2021 "Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows" with new words to bring voice to feelings not yet defined in the English language.  (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Time's 100 most influential people of 2024.

 

The best (and worst) places to get stranded.

 

Revisit clip art collections from the early 1990s.

 

Watch 500 ballerinas break a world record in New York City.

 

A circus elephant goes for a stroll in Montana.

 

Irish psychic fails to predict own arrest.

 

Weight-loss drug may help people with obstructive sleep apnea.

 

A second-generation Lennon-McCartney single released

 

Clickbait: Breakdancers to bust a move at this year's Olympics.

 

Historybook: Paul Revere makes famous ride during American Revolution (1775); Yankee Stadium opens (1923); Albert Einstein dies (1955); Conan O'Brien born (1963); Dick Clark dies (2012).

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