4.19.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, April 19, and we're covering reports of an Israeli military response to Iran, the world's biggest democratic exercise, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Breaking news: US officials say Israel has retaliated against Iran for Saturday's drone and missile attack (see previous write-up). Iranian news agencies have reported explosions near the central city of Isfahan. Israel hasn't commented as of this writing. This is a developing story. See updates here.

India’s Lok Sabha Election

The world's largest democratic elections begin in India today as nearly 1 billion voters head to the polls. Over the next six weeks, voters will determine the composition of the 543-member Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament responsible for nominating a prime minister.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are seeking a third consecutive term against a coalition of parties called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. A simple majority of 272 seats is needed to rule for the five-year term—BJP won 303 seats last election. Economic concerns, particularly inflation and unemployment, are chief issues among voters. Modi, 73, is favored to win and maintains a 75% approval rating, particularly due to his government's welfare programs and infrastructure projects.

 

The election process is conducted in seven phases covering various regions and is designed to ensure efficient management of resources, security, and high voter turnout. India mandates a polling station within 1.2 miles of every home, including the world's highest polling booth in the Himalayas. Elections will conclude June 1.

 

Indonesia Volcano Eruption

Thousands of people were evacuated near Mount Ruang volcano in northern Indonesia yesterday following repeated eruptions since Tuesday. Officials also released a tsunami alert over concerns the 2,400-foot-tall mountain might partially collapse into the sea amid the seismic activity, a phenomenon that claimed over 400 lives on the adjacent island in 1871. 

 

Last erupted in 2002, Mount Ruang is located in the country's North Sulawesi province and is one of over 120 active volcanoes across Indonesia's 17,000 islands. Its ash plumes reportedly reached roughly 13 miles into the stratosphere, dropping rocks several miles from the eruption. Videos showed intense lightning activity in the ash plume as a result of the rapid movement of particles, creating a strong buildup of opposite charges, similar to typical storms (see how it works).

 

Authorities have implemented a four-square-mile exclusion zone around the eruption. Nearby Tagulandang airport was closed out of caution. 

 

Taylor Swift's 11th Album

Taylor Swift today released her highly anticipated 11th original studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.” The album comes as the musician is set to continue her international Eras Tour next month, the highest-grossing music tour in history and the first to surpass $1B in sales. Listen to the album here.

 

Swift’s album was preceded by a string of Easter eggs—or clues—designed to hype up fans. The promo has included a pop-up exhibit in Los Angeles and QR codes in major cities that point to a range of cryptic videos. Much of Swift's public persona is overseen by publicist Tree Paine (read more here).

 

Swift is a four-time Grammy album of the year winner (the most in history) and the world's highest-earning female musician, with an estimated net worth of $1.1B. Her impact has been studied by economists and geologists alike: A UCLA study last month found fans dancing at concerts caused detectable “Swift quakes.” Her Arizona concert stimulated the local economy more than the 2023 Super Bowl.

In partnership with SmartAsset

$1B Startup Disrupting Retirement Industry

 

This Princeton grad's startup raised $161M to help people plan for retirement.

 

If you're one of the whopping 110 million Americans over age 50—or a wise millennial planning ahead—SmartAsset's no-cost tool makes it easy to find vetted financial advisors who serve your area. Research suggests that people who work with a financial advisor could end up with 15% more money to spend in retirement

 

Kick-start your retirement plans today. Try SmartAsset's free quiz to get matched with up to 3 financial advisors serving your area, each legally bound to work in your best interest. It's never too late to work toward financial freedom. Get your financial advisor matches today.

 

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

In partnership with Quince

> NHL Stanley Cup playoffs kick off tomorrow; see full bracket and schedule (More) | NBA playoffs begin in earnest tomorrow after play-in tournament wraps up tonight (More)

> Dickey Betts, Allman Brothers Band cofounder and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, dies at 80 (More) | Listen to some of the Allman Brothers Band's best hits (More)

> Writers for "Sesame Street" to strike if contract agreement isn't reached by today (More) | Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli to become first company awarded honorary Palme d’Or by Cannes Film Festival (More)

From our partners: 100% European linen, without the expensive price tag. Quince believes that luxury apparel shouldn't break the bank. Every piece is ethically and sustainably made, including these relaxed fit, lightweight, European flax linen pants. They come in seven colors and with over 3,500 5-star reviews, Quince is onto something. Enjoy free shipping and easy returns for 365 days, plus buy 2 or more linen styles, get a $10 credit.

 

Science & Technology

> Meta reveals Llama 3, the latest update to its large language model and flagship AI assistant (More) | Test drive new model for free here (More)

> Materials scientists create "goldene," single-atom-thick sheets of gold similar to carbon-based graphene; material is expected to have uses in nanoelectronics, advanced chemistry, and more (More)

> Archaeologists uncover partial fossil of what is believed to be the largest-ever snake; 60-million-year-old specimen, found in an Indian mine, stretched nearly 50 feet (More) | See yesterday's write-up on a massive marine reptile fossil (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 -0.2%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq -0.5%); S&P 500 notches longest losing streak since October (More) | Digital marketing firm Ibotta shares rise as much as 33% in New York Stock Exchange debut, valuing the Walmart-backed company at $3.6B; shares close up 17% (More

Netflix's Q1 subscriber growth beats estimates, rising 16% year-over-year; company plans to stop providing quarterly membership numbers in 2025 (More) | Google fires 28 employees after multicity protests against the tech giant's cloud contract with the Israeli government (More) 

> US existing home sales fall 4.3% month-over-month in March, the largest monthly decline since November 2022; median home price of $393,500 is up 4.8% from a year ago, the highest median price for any March on record (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Biden administration reportedly working on deal to forge diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel (More) | The US, the UK impose sanctions on Iran's drone program after Iran's weekend attack on Israel (More) | The US vetoes UN Security Council resolution that would have paved the way for the state of Palestine to join the UN as a full member (More) | See war updates (More)

> Polish man arrested for allegedly spying for Russian military intelligence to help with alleged assassination plot against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (More) | See war updates (More)

> All 12 jurors selected in former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial in Manhattan; opening arguments to begin Monday (More) | See our previous write-up (More)

 

In-Depth

> Rules of Online Engagement

Plain English | Derek Thompson. (Podcast) The internet can bring out the worst in otherwise benevolent people. One psychologist explains the evolutionary instincts shaping our intense reactions online. (Listen)

 

> Resurrecting Notre Dame

Spiegel International | Britta Sandberg. Five years into the privately funded restoration of France's most famous landmark, citizens, clergy, and politicians come together to marvel at the structure's newfound radiance. (Read)

> Donkey Markets

Reuters | Staff. Donkeys are the workhorses for over 500 million subsistence farmers around the world. Skyrocketing demand in China for e-jiao, a luxury collagen product derived from donkey hide, is straining global supply. (Read)

 

> Fly Wings Demystified

Nature | Staff. Insect wings are one of nature's most difficult-to-study skeletal structures, anatomically distinct from those of birds and bats. Now, machine learning has helped explain how the mechanism works. (Watch)

In partnership with SmartAsset

What's the Best Way to Lower RMD Taxes?

 

If you have tax-deferred retirement accounts, you'll need to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) eventually. If not properly planned for, these distributions could take a tax toll on your retirement nest egg. Check out these 6 strategies to help reduce distributions and potentially lower your tax bill. Learn more.

 

Consulting a fiduciary financial advisor can help when factoring RMDs and the potential tax repercussions. Try SmartAsset's free quiz to get matched with up to 3 vetted financial advisors serving your area, who can help you plan to work toward a comfortable retirement. Get your financial advisor matches today.

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Etcetera
 

The eerie movements of a new humanoid robot.

 

Photographer in Gaza wins World Press Photo of the Year.

 

Lowest average salary people will accept for new job reaches record $81.8K.

 

The star system set to explode this year.

 

Hibernating queen bees can survive for a week underwater.

 

When a child asked President Ronald Reagan for help with his messy bedroom.

 

A podcast episode for every movie featuring an exploding helicopter.

 

Man houses mice in garden's Hobbit-themed homes.

 

Clickbait: Remembering real-life "Up."

 

Historybook: Battles of Lexington and Concord begin the American Revolutionary War (1775); Charles Darwin dies (1882); Boston Marathon held for first time (1897); Actress Ashley Judd born (1968); Oklahoma City bombing kills 168 (1995).

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life."

- Charles Darwin

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