2.16.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Feb. 16, and we're covering a highly anticipated ruling in New York, a record-breaking night in Iowa, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Trump Verdict Expected

A decision in a civil trial against former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization is expected today, marking the end of a case that may limit the company's ability to operate in the state of New York. 

 

Prosecutors allege the firm manipulated the value of its real estate assets for financial and tax purposes. No jury is involved in the case—Judge Arthur Engoron previously found the Trump Organization committed fraud, with only the penalty to be determined. See our previous write-up here

 

Separately, in Georgia, claims by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis regarding her relationship with a top prosecutor were contradicted in court yesterday by a former close acquaintance.

 

Willis, who brought an election interference case against Trump, is accused of hiring Nathan Wade as special counsel while the pair carried on a secret romantic relationship (see timeline). A judge will decide whether Willis should be disqualified from the case. 

 

Finally, a March 25 start date was set in the New York trial against Trump linked to alleged hush money payments in 2016 made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Charges include falsifying business records and campaign finance violations. It will mark the first criminal trial of a former US president. 

 

Clark Makes History

Iowa's Caitlin Clark broke the NCAA Division I women's basketball scoring record last night, passing 3,527 points minutes into the first quarter in the Hawkeyes' game against Michigan. The previous record-holder was former Washington Huskies player Kelsey Plum.

 

The 22-year-old point guard averages 32.1 points per game, including a nation-leading 5.2 3-pointers made per game. She became the first player in NCAA Division I history—men's or women's—to achieve both 3,000 points and 1,000 assists in her career. The reigning Naismith College Player of the Year is credited with elevating women's basketball, breaking attendance and viewership records—the Hawkeyes have played in four of the six most-watched women's college basketball games this season, including almost 1.8 million viewers on Super Bowl Sunday. See her career by the numbers here.

 

With four regular-season games and the postseason remaining, Clark may pass the men's record of 3,667 points set by Pete Maravich in 1970. She also trails a pair of players from the pre-NCAA era: Lynette Woodard (3,649) and Pearl Moore (4,061). Clark is widely projected to be the top pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft.

 

Lunar Lander Launch

Private US aerospace company Intuitive Machines successfully launched a phone-booth-sized robotic lunar lander early yesterday, hoping to land roughly 180 miles from the moon's south pole Thursday. If successful, the Odysseus mission would mark the first-ever private lunar landing and the first US soft landing (reaching the surface via a controlled descent) since the final Apollo mission in 1972.

 

The lander, launched aboard a SpaceX rocket, carries six NASA instruments as part of the administration's program to outsource lunar missions to reduce costs. The $120M scientific payloads are partly designed to help prepare NASA for landing humans on the moon as early as 2026 via its Artemis program. A separable camera to capture photos of the lander's descent and moon sculptures by artist Jeff Koons are also included.

 

Watch the craft detach from the upper stage of its SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket after reaching Earth's orbit here

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Kansas City officials say an escalated personal dispute was responsible for shootout that killed one person and wounded 21 others following Chiefs Super Bowl parade Wednesday (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Rod Stewart sells full song catalog and some name and likeness rights for nearly $100M (More) | Soccer star Kylian Mbappé informs Paris Saint-Germain that he'll depart the club at the end of this season (More)

> Don Gullett, former MLB pitcher and three-time World Series winner, dies at 73 (More) | College baseball season kicks off today; see full preview and storylines (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with Knightscope

> OpenAI unveils text-to-video platform known as Sora, which turns AI prompts into realistic footage with complex details up to one minute long (More)

> Rising US suicide rate has been driven by increased access to potent opioids and decreased social safety net, large-scale analysis finds; roughly 50,000 Americans died by suicide in 2023 (More)

> Undeciphered wooden tablets provide evidence of a written language among the Indigenous culture on Easter Island prior to the first arrival of Europeans (More) | What are the Rongorongo tablets? (More)

From our partners: Earning 10% interest a year is almost unheard of. But you can with a high-yield investment opportunity from Knightscope. They’re offering investors a 10% cash payment every year for up to 5 years. How? By leading the charge in AI-powered security robots, a $119B market. But don’t wait, this opportunity ends on March 14. Learn how you could start earning 10% interest today.*

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close up (S&P 500 +0.6%, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +0.3%); S&P 500 closes at another record high (More) | Shares of AI companies, including Arm Holdings, rally after Nvidia discloses stakes in them Wednesday; comes a day after Nvidia exceeds Alphabet in market value (More)

> US retail sales fell 0.8% month-over-month in January, a larger-than-expected drop and down from a 0.4% gain in December (More) | Average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rises to 6.77%, the highest in 10 weeks (More) | The US eases restrictions on banking giant Wells Fargo following 2016 scandal (More

> Japan officially enters a recession, slips to fourth behind Germany on list of world's largest economies (More) | The UK slips into a recession after latest data show economy failed to grow for two consecutive quarters (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Israeli forces advance into Nasser Hospital in the Gaza city of Khan Younis, reportedly searching for the remains of hostages (More) | Death toll from Israeli airstrike in neighboring Lebanon rises to 10 civilians, three Hezbollah fighters (More)

> Former FBI informant, said to be at center of tip alleging illicit foreign business dealings by President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden, reportedly arrested for lying to federal officials (More)

> Greece becomes first Orthodox Christian country to legalize same-sex marriage, provide parental rights for same-sex couples (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Untold Story of Truth

Smithsonian | Cynthia Greenlee. A penetrating look at the life of abolitionist hero Sojourner Truth clarifies the record around the Dutch-speaking, New York-born former slave and visionary preacher. (Read)

 

> India's YouTube Election

Rest of World | Yashraj Sharma. Ahead of elections this year, YouTube has become the primary mode for political messaging in the world's largest democracy, where even Prime Minister Narendra Modi identifies as a "YouTuber." (Read)

> Auto-Mated

WUNC Radio | Paige Miranda, Anita Rao. (Podcast) What is it like to date an AI companion? Hear the real stories from people who've romanced a robot as well as from the experts designing them. (Listen)

 

> A Day at the Roman Colosseum

Tasting History | Max Miller. See what it was really like to be a spectator in one of the world's greatest amphitheaters, from the kinds of concessions available to the special cushions you had to bring yourself. (Watch)

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Etcetera
 

Scientists uncover the origin of bad breath.

 

Mixologists resurrect a 3,000-year-old drink.

 

AI's newest target—British bedbugs.

 

Dubai debuts the world's largest cantilever building.

 

The search for an ancient planet at the center of Earth. (via YouTube)

 

Falling maggots force Delta flight to turn around.

 

Divers discover the remains of a famous Lake Superior shipwreck.

 

Ten animals with superpower-like abilities.

 

Clickbait: Undercover Care Bear makes a drug bust (w/video).

 

Historybook: Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun's burial chamber is unsealed (1923); Fidel Castro becomes prime minister of Cuba (1959); Tennis great John McEnroe born (1959); Actress Elizabeth Olsen born (1989); Musician The Weeknd born (1990).

"The important thing is to learn a lesson every time you lose."

- John McEnroe

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