4.25.2023

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, April 25, and we're covering the departure of a top-rated prime-time cable news host, rising deaths connected to a Kenyan cult, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Carlson Out at Fox News

Cable news host Tucker Carlson and Fox News parted ways yesterday, ending a 14-year relationship, which saw Carlson eventually lead the top-rated prime-time cable news show across all networks. The change is effective immediately—Carlson's last episode aired Friday, with the slot being filled by rotating hosts until a replacement show is found. 

 

Having joined the network in 2009, Carlson's "Tucker Carlson Tonight" debuted in the 9 pm ET slot before replacing commentator Bill O'Reilly at 8 pm ET. As of early 2023, Carlson was averaging an estimated 3.3 million viewers per show. The move comes one week after the network reached a $787M settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over defamation claims arising from comments made by hosts, including Carlson, in the aftermath of the 2020 election. 

 

Also yesterday, Fox News competitor CNN reportedly fired Don Lemon, the host of "Don Lemon Tonight," which averaged 630,000 viewers. Lemon was temporarily removed from the air in February for making remarks about women and their ages. 

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Kenyan Cult Death Toll

The number of bodies Kenyan police have recovered from graves connected to an extremist cult led by a detained pastor rose to 73 yesterday. Kenyan President William Ruto, in a televised speech Monday, compared the situation to an act of terrorism. 

 

Paul Nthenge Makenzi, the leader of the suspected cult, has been in police custody since April 14, after authorities rescued a group of emaciated people from Makenzi's 800-acre ranch. Some of the rescued victims died later. At least 112 people have been reported missing. Authorities believe the victims, who were followers of the cult, were ordered to fast themselves to death. Ruto has instructed authorities to investigate the matter as a criminal case. 

 

A judge ordered Makenzi to remain in custody for two weeks as the investigation continues. Makenzi was previously arrested twice, in 2019 and in March, over the deaths of children and was released on bond. Both of those cases are making their way through court. 

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Ed Sheeran Copyright Trial

Jury selection began yesterday in a copyright trial to decide whether British singer Ed Sheeran lifted elements of the classic soul song "Let's Get It On" for the basis of his hit "Thinking Out Loud." Sheeran is expected to testify during the two-week case, which experts believe will have broad ramifications for the music industry.

 

Heirs to the estate of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the legendary hit with Marvin Gaye, claim Sheeran's use of a common chord progression is arranged similarly enough to Townsend and Gaye's that it infringes on copyright. Fans have noted close similarity between the two songs (watch breakdown) since Sheeran's hit debuted; conversely, musical experts have noted the progression forms the basis for countless songs in the pop canon. 

 

Sheeran has faced similar lawsuits before, including copyright complaints over hits "Shape of You" and "Photograph," settling the latter for $5M in 2017. The cases come amid an increase in musical copyright lawsuits in recent years; read an overview here

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers traded from Green Bay Packers to New York Jets for multiple future draft picks (More) | 2023 NFL Draft begins Thursday; see latest mock draft (More)

> Disney to layoff 4,000 employees in latest round of job cuts; 7,000 total employees will be let go this year (More) | Shakira tapped as Billboard's first-ever "Latin Woman of the Year" (More

> Len Goodman, ballroom dancer best known as judge on "Dancing with the Stars," dies of cancer at 78 (More) | Comedian Richard Lewis reveals Parkinson’s diagnosis (More)

From our partners: How many credit cards are in your wallet? Make your answer "one." The Ascent's credit card expert personally signed up for this card because of its perfect mix of benefits. Up to 5% cash back, a big bonus, no annual fee, the list goes on.

 

Science & Technology

> Hope space probe takes first up-close images of Mars' small moon Deimos; United Arab Emirates mission has the primary goal of studying seasonal variations in the Martian atmosphere (More)

> Engineers demonstrate prototype mobile vaccine printer, capable of producing on-site vaccines delivered via a microneedle patch; may eventually help deliver treatments in remote locations during disease outbreaks (More)

> Study of mudskippers, a species of fish that spend a large part of the day out of water, reveals mechanism behind the evolution of blinking (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 +0.1%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq -0.3%), tech stocks lower ahead of Big Tech earnings this week (More) | Appeals court largely sides with Apple in lawsuit with Epic Games over App Store fees (More

> First Republic Bank lost 41% of deposits in Q1, will cut headcount by up to 25%; shares fall over 20% in after-hours trading (More)

> Johnson & Johnson will price shares of consumer health spinoff later this year in IPO valuing the enterprise at nearly $40B (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Warring factions in Sudan agree to 72-hour cease-fire, beginning midnight local time Monday, to allow foreign governments to safely extract their citizens (More) | Pentagon considers sending troops to Port Sudan to facilitate land evacuations of private US citizens (More

> Susan Rice to step down as the Biden administration's domestic policy adviser  (More) | President Joe Biden reportedly set to tap Julie Chavez Rodriguez, granddaughter of Cesar Chavez, to manage 2024 reelection campaign (More) | South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visits the US this week (More)

> Supreme Court agrees to hear case on whether public officials violate the First Amendment when blocking constituents, critics on social media platforms (More) | Jury selection begins in trial over rape allegations against former President Donald Trump (More) | Charges expected to be announced this summer in Fulton County, Georgia, 2020 election interference probe (More

 

In-Depth

> The Somerton Man

Criminal | Phoebe Judge. (Podcast) In December 1948, a well-dressed man was found deceased on an Australian beach, with a cryptic passage torn from a book of Persian poetry. Who he was and how he arrived at his fate has confounded investigators for decades. (Listen)

 

> The Gambler Who Beat Roulette

Bloomberg | Kit Chellel. The story of Niko Tosa, an unassuming Croatian gambler who achieved what some of the world's top quantitative minds could not—devise a winning strategy for the otherwise random game of roulette. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

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Clickbait: Don't mess with Belgium

 

Historybook: Workers break ground on Suez Canal (1859); The US declares war on Spain to begin Spanish-American War (1898); Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald born (1917); Al Pacino born (1940); Renée Zellweger born (1969).

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