4.18.2023

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, April 18, and we're covering the jailing of a prominent Russian journalist, rare fossils up for auction, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Russian Journalist Jailed

Prominent Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison on treason charges stemming from his opposition to the war in Ukraine. It is the longest sentence any opposition figure has received in Russia since the war began last February.

 

The 41-year-old Russian-British journalist has long been associated with noted critics of current President Vladimir Putin, claiming he was poisoned twice in the last eight years by Kremlin officials. Kara-Murza worked with US politicians to pass the 2012 Magnitsky Act, authorizing the US to sanction foreign individuals accused of human rights abuses, a list that includes the judge who sentenced Kara-Murza. The charges partially stem from an antiwar speech Kara-Murza gave to the Arizona House of Representatives last March (see video).

 

Separately, the US ambassador to Russia visited US journalist Evan Gershkovich Monday, the first time US officials have been permitted access to the reporter jailed last month on spying allegations. Read more on Russian political prisoners here.

 

Trinity the T. Rex

A rare Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton will be auctioned off today in Zurich, Switzerland, the first auction of its kind in Europe. The roughly 67-million-year-old skeleton, named TRX-293 Trinity, comprises 293 original bones (of approximately 380 total bones in a T. rex) and sits 12.8 feet high.

 

Trinity is made up of three seperate T. rex fossils found in Montana and Wyoming between 2008 and 2013 and is expected to fetch between $5.5M and $8.8M. However, some experts say the sale puts the fossils out of reach for scientific research. The sale comes four months after Christie's withdrew a T. rex skeleton from auction in Hong Kong over questions around its authenticity.

 

This marks only the third time in history that such a complete T. rex skeleton has been put up for auction. In 2020, a T. rex skeleton named "Stan" sold for $31.8M in New York, and in 1997, "Sue" was sold to Chicago's Field Museum for $8.4M. See background here.

 

Secret Chinese Operations

Federal officials yesterday arrested two New York residents for allegedly conspiring to act as agents of the Chinese government and operating an unauthorized police outpost in Manhattan under the direction of China’s Ministry of Public Security. The outpost is allegedly one of more than 100 Chinese police operations worldwide, according to court documents. The criminal charges are the first ever to be brought against such outposts.

 

US officials say the operation is part of China's efforts to police dissidents living abroad. The arrests of Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, come after FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate committee in November he was concerned about such operations on American soil. China denied the allegations, claiming the stations were service centers for nationals overseas. See a list of sites believed to be China's police outposts here.

 

In related news, more than three dozen people connected to the Chinese government have been charged with using fake social media accounts to harass dissidents.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Kenyans Hellen Obiri and Evans Chebet win women's and men's titles at 127th Boston Marathon (More) | Jalen Hurts signs five-year, $255M deal with Philadelphia Eagles, the highest ever annual value for an NFL contract (More)

> Ahmad Jamal, influential jazz pianist and composer, dies at 92 of prostate cancer (More)

> Writers Guild of America nearly unanimously votes to strike if new contract with TV and film producers isn't reached by May 1 (More) | "Super Mario Bros. Movie" hauls in $92M in its second weekend, crosses $700M at global box office (More)

💥 From the 1440 Knowledge Hub: 

 

> Into the Mariana Trench: The deepest known point on Earth is farther down than Mount Everest is tall. Take a trip into the abyss here.

 

> Treating Alzheimer's: Neurodegenerative diseases have befuddled doctors for decades, but researchers are circling in on new forms of treatment.

 

> Ancient rituals: What archaeologists have uncovered regarding the practice of human sacrifice

 

Explore more great resources like these on your own—check out the Hub here.

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with Monogram

> SpaceX calls off test launch of its Starship spacecraft due to issue during fueling; timing for next launch set for April 20 (More)

> Researchers demonstrate a source for light-based quantum computing that fits on a single computer chip; advance marks a key step forward toward mass-produced quantum processors (More)

> James Webb Space Telescope captures merger of two galaxies surrounded by a star-forming ring of cosmic debris located roughly 250 million light-years from Earth (More)

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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.3%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq +0.3%) to kick off earnings season week (More)

> Apple launches Apple Card savings account, offering 4.15% interest (More)

> Dominion v. Fox News defamation lawsuit delayed one day by judge, set to begin today; the voting systems company alleges the network knowingly aired false claims about its machines during the 2020 election (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Death toll rises to at least 100 people as military, opposition groups battle for control of Sudan's capital of Khartoum (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Rep. George Santos (R, NY-3) announces he will run for reelection in 2024; Santos admitted to significantly fabricating parts of his resume during the 2022 race (More) | House Judiciary Committee holds offsite hearing focusing on crime in New York City (More)

> Minnesota appeals court rejects request by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for new trial in the 2020 killing of George Floyd (More) | Grand jury declines to charge eight Akron, Ohio, police officers in the June death of Jayland Walker (More) | Kansas City man charged in killing of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Fake Prince

Truly*Adventurous | Alessio Perrone. Did Stefan Cernetic scam European royalty and Hollywood elite by posing as the Prince of Montenegro, profiteering off unsuspecting people, or was he a real prince? (Read)

 

> When Criminals Rule

Knowable | Pablo Fonseca Q. A political scientist dives into criminal governance in Latin America, where millions of people live in regions controlled by criminal organizations, ranging from drug cartels to criminal syndicates. (Read)

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