6.18.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, June 18, and we're covering Russia and North Korea's budding relationship, the winners of the NBA Finals, 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 in North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in North Korea today to meet with the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, as the two seek to strengthen and expand their relationship. The two-day visit marks Putin's first trip to North Korea in 24 years and comes after he hosted Kim in the Russian Far East last year.  

 

US and South Korean officials believe North Korea has sold Soviet-era artillery, rockets, and other military equipment to aid Russia in its war against Ukraine—now in its 27th month—since the first year of the conflict. The sales reportedly include as many as 10,000 shipping containers holding nearly 5 million artillery shells. Both countries have denied the accusations. In exchange, Russia is believed to have provided economic aid to North Korea, whose economy has contracted every year since 2020, with a gross domestic product per capita of around $1K (see 101). 

 

Separately, Russia's espionage trial against jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is set to begin June 26 and will be closed to the public. 

 

Celtics Clinch Title

The Boston Celtics won the NBA championship last night at home, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 106 to 88 in Game 5 of the finals. The victory is Boston's first title since 2008 and the team's overall 18th title. The Celtics now hold the record for the most NBA championships won, surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers' 17 wins.

 

Yesterday's win was powered by 26-year-old Jayson Tatum and 27-year-old Jaylen Brown. Tatum finished with 31 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds, while Brown finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Brown was also named the NBA Finals MVP. Additionally, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, 35, became the youngest head coach to win a championship since Bill Russell in 1969.

 

The Boston Celtics were founded in 1946 as one of eight original teams of the Basketball Association of America, a predecessor to the NBA. See photos from last night's celebration here.

 

Warning: Social Media

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called on Congress yesterday to require warning labels on social media platforms, like those for tobacco and alcohol, to highlight their potential harm to children's mental health.

 

In a New York Times op-ed, Murthy identified social media as a major factor in the mental health crisis among adolescents, citing a 2019 study that linked over three hours of daily social media use to a doubled risk of anxiety and depression—teens average 4.8 hours per day. He argued previous research shows warning labels can raise awareness and influence parental behavior. The op-ed follows his May 2023 advisory recommending limits on social media use, such as phone-free schools and restricting access until after middle school.

 

A Surgeon General's warning requires legislation from Congress. More than a dozen states have passed laws limiting adolescent social media use, but several have been blocked in court. A trade group said the responsibility should fall on parents and not the government or tech companies.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler headlines Team USA men's golf squad for the 2024 Paris Olympics (More) | Team USA swimming Olympic trials also underway; see latest results (More)

> Scooter Braun retires as a manager after 23 years of managing artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande; Braun notably acquired rights to Taylor Swift's first six albums, which led to Swift's "Taylor's Version" rerecordings (More) | Country singer George Strait breaks record for largest-ever ticketed concert in the US with 110,905 people in attendance (More)

> The Florida Panthers look to win their first Stanley Cup as they take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight (8 pm ET, ABC) with a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series (More

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with EnergyX

> Apple battery supplier TDK claims to have developed a solid-state battery with 100 times higher energy density than those used in typical consumer electronics (More

> Beetle study reveals the evolution of complex chemical defenses millions of years ago allowed the bugs to diversify and spread worldwide; the 400,000 known beetle species represent about one-quarter of all discovered lifeforms (More

> Engineers develop noninvasive device to target and modulate specific brain regions; approach may provide new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's (More

From our partners: The lithium boom. It takes 10,000 smartphone batteries to make one set of EV batteries. With over 350 million global EV sales projected by 2030, demand is soaring. Enter EnergyX. Their tech can extract up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods, earning them a $50M investment from GM, deals with top producers like POSCO, and a $5M DOE grant. Don’t miss your chance to invest in EnergyX at their $9 share price before it increases on June 27.*

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.8%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +1.0%); S&P 500 ends at another record, Dow snaps four-day losing streak (More)

> Photoshop maker Adobe sued by Federal Trade Commission for allegedly pushing consumers toward expensive subscription plan without disclosing cancellation fee (More) | IRS to target loopholes involving sophisticated transactions used by complex partnerships that result in lowered or no taxes; IRS estimated to collect $50B over 10 years (More)

> Money management firm Fisher Investments agrees to sell up to $3B minority stake to private equity firm Advent International and sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> President Joe Biden expected to announce new policy today protecting undocumented spouses of US citizens from deportation, allowing them to apply for work permits, and easing their path to legal residency (More

> Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves War Cabinet after two former centrist generals resigned last week; Netanyahu to form smaller forum of advisers to strategize on Israel-Hamas war (More) | See war updates (More

> Indian national Nikhil Gupta is extradited to the US, pleads not guilty to charges of plotting to assassinate a New York City-based Sikh separatist leader, who seeks an independent state in northern India (More) | See our previous write-up (More

 

In-Depth

The Worm Charmers

Oxford American | Michael Adno. At turns called worm grunting, worm charming, or worm fiddling, the act of bringing earthworms aboveground for bait is a profitable and mysterious skill—one that may evoke the fictional Fremen in “Dune.” (Read)

 

> The Allure of High Mountains

Noema Mag | Henry Wismayer. The urge to climb mountains dates back hundreds of years and has endured despite a long trail of death. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Ranking the world's happiest cities

 

Global nuclear arms spending exceeded $91B in 2023.

 

Railbiking is now a thing—here's where to try it.

 

A visual guide to playing the card game spades

 

Taste these 55 regional dishes from across America.

 

Photographer captures the galaxies in our eyes.

 

Upgrade your vocabulary with 10 vintage slang words.

 

Watch a picky monkey sift through food. (via Reddit) 

 

Clickbait: Wells Fargo hit with "mouse jigglers" scandal

 

Historybook: The US declares war against Great Britain as War of 1812 begins (1812); Paul McCartney born (1942); Sally Ride becomes first American woman in space (1983); Five people die after submersible implodes while exploring wreckage of the Titanic (2023). 

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