Apple Is Making AI Moves

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Good morning and happy Tuesday. Space Perspective, a Florida-based startup, hopes to take passengers to the edge of space and back on an eco-friendly and smooth six-hour tour via a modified weather balloon in the next 2-3 years. It won't be cheap -- tickets are $125K -- but that is a fraction of the price it costs to hitch a ride with firms like Blue Origin. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • Asbestos: Complete ban in U.S.

  • Gaza: UN issues famine warning

  • Trump: May re-hire Manafort

  • Sports Illustrated: New publisher

  • MrBeast: Launching $5M reality show

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Mega powers

Two tech giants are reportedly in talks about an artificial intelligence partnership.

  • The details: Apple and Alphabet, Google's parent company, are discussing a deal where the Gemini AI model would be built into iPhones. The pact would help Apple spike sales while Google can scale and access over 2B devices worldwide.

  • Possible hurdle: Google already has ties to Apple; its search engine the default option on Safari internet browsers. But that deal is a big part of Google's active antitrust dispute with the Department of Justice. An AI rollout could be a regulatory issue.

  • Big picture: Apple is making AI moves ahead of its June developer event as it aims to advance its offerings. It recently bought a Canadian firm, it has done its own AI work and it has also had talks with Microsoft-aligned OpenAI. Google can use a win, too, after recent controversy surrounding Gemini's historically inaccurate art renderings.

2) Mystery grows

A research team found no proof of brain injury among U.S. government employees suffering from "Havana syndrome."

  • Catch up: Federal employees and family members, starting with embassy officials stationed in Cuba, have been afflicted with unexplained health problems dating back to 2016. They report hearing noise and experiencing head pressure, followed by dizziness, migraines, memory challenges and other issues. 

  • The study: An NIH probe found no clinical differences between the impacted people and healthy volunteers with similar work assignments after a battery of tests. There were self-reported differences, like increased fatigue and balance troubles. An earlier study at Penn identified subtle brain changes in impacted participants, but NIH said its study was more rigorous. The researchers stressed the findings did not question the severity and veracity of symptoms, but suggested pre-existing issues and social factors may explain them.

  • Big picture: U.S. intelligence services determined last year it is unlikely a foreign adversary attacked the workers with unknown weapons despite their diplomatic stations and status. This report found no evidence of external phenomenon causing symptoms, but conceded their methods may not be able to detect causes so long after occurrence.

3) Free money

A major bank in Ethiopia has a big mess to clean up.

  • What happened: Customers discovered a glitch at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia last Saturday: They could withdraw more money than was in their accounts. Once they realized what was possible, they began telling family and friends.

  • The result: Over $40M was withdrawn or transferred from the state-run bank before officials caught on and froze transactions. Abe Sano, the bank's president, said students took the bulk of the money; police dispersed large lines at campus ATMs.

  • Big picture: Sano said a cyberattack did not hit the bank. The withdrawn money was small compared to bank assets. Amnesty has been promised to people who return money, but how much the bank can claw back is unknown.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • The EPA finalized a ban on the most common form of asbestos, a cancer-causing carcinogen. The substance has been partially prohibited for decades, but was still used in some chlorine bleach and other products (More)

  • Former President Donald Trump's attorneys say he cannot line up a $450M bond to appeal his business fraud trial verdict in New York. Trump's representation said it is "impossible" and he has approached close to 30 surety companies (More)

  • Former astronaut Thomas Stafford died at 93. The Apollo 10 commander and retired three-star Air Force general flew four space missions, including the first-ever collaboration with the then-Soviet Union (More)

World News

  • Famine is imminent in northern Gaza, according to a United Nations report. Over 1M people now face "catastrophic hunger" as the Israel-Hamas war approaches the six-month mark (More)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed he is open to a ceasefire with Ukraine during the Paris Olympics. French President Emmanuel Macron said he plans to request a pause to hostilities (More)

  • Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said his government will engage with protestors after rare public demonstrations last weekend. The island is grappling with electrical outages and food shortages (More)

Campaign News

  • Paul Manafort may advise former President Trump's campaign later this year. Trump pardoned his ex-campaign manager's tax evasion and bank fraud convictions while in office (More)

  • A special election to fill former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy's vacant seat is today. If no candidate gets 50% of the vote, California state law calls for a runoff in May (More)

  • Former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan has withdrawn from consideration for No Labels' third-party presidential candidacy. The centrist group plans to have a unity ticket (More

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed higher yesterday. All eyes will be on the Federal Reserve as it begins a two-day meeting today (Dow +0.20%, Nasdaq +0.82%, S&P 500 +0.63%).

  • Minute Media has struck a licensing deal with Authentic Brands to publish Sports Illustrated. The media company has pledged to continue print operations and is expected to re-hire some workers laid off by previous licensee Arena Group (More)

  • Joann Inc. has filed for bankruptcy, citing debt issues. The publicly-owned crafts and fabric retailer plans to be delisted and go private one proceedings are complete (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • YouTuber Jimmy "MrBeast" Donaldson has struck a deal for an Amazon Prime reality competition seriesBeast Games will have 1K contestants and a $5M cash payout, said to the biggest in reality TV history (More)

  • Nottingham Forest was docked four table points for violating Premier League financial rules. The penalty drops the club into the relegation zone; an appeal is expected (More)

  • MGM Resorts denied a report Bruno Mars has significant gambling debts at its casinos. The singer has residencies with MGM; NewsNation claimed he was down as much as $50M (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Good Idea: A community center in Scotland holds seminars teaching fathers how to help style their daughters' hair. The course demonstrates detangling long hair and making braids, among other skills.

  • Be Safe: Hyundai has a recall on almost 30K vehicles. Some Genesis G90, G80 and G70 models are at risk for engine compartment fires.

  • Worthy Cause: A woman is cycling from the UK to Singapore to raise money for a mental health charity. The journey will be over 12K miles and will extend into 2025 (More)

  • Travel Hack: It is almost vacation season. Make sure you do not fall prey to travel scams while on the go (or as you plan a big trip).

  • Life Hack: A dermatologist has some interesting tips on what he does in the shower to care for his skin. Among them: Washing his face with shampoo.

  • OPTIMIZE ME: Researchers “found convincing evidence that higher intake of ultra-processed foods was associated with 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48% to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes”

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Meet the kids who hacked the CIA.

Looking Ahead …

The Olympics are headed to the big screen this summer. AMC Theatres will carry live daytime NBC broadcasts of various events at 160 locations nationwide.

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