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Crypto Con Gets Heavy Sentence

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Friday! Parts of the U.S. will be inundated with cicadas this year as two broods emerge in sync for the first time in over two centuries. While the noisy bugs may be a nuisance for humans, the silver lining is that they will benefit the environment. Have a great weekend!

In Today’s Brief

  • Tuberculosis: Cases spiked in 2023

  • South Africa: Tragic bus accident

  • South Carolina: Congressional map stands

  • Home Depot: $18B gamble

  • LIFE Magazine: Comeback planned

... and more

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Top Tips

1) SBF to the slammer

It could have been worse for Sam Bankman-Fried, but it was not what he and his legal team hoped for.

  • The sentence: The disgraced crypto tycoon was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison yesterday after he was convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges last November. The former FTX CEO must also pay $11B in forfeiture. SBF caught a break after the DOJ sought a sentence of 40-50 years, but it was still far greater than the 5-6 years his attorneys asked for. He is expected to appeal.

  • Stinging rebuke: Judge Lewis Kaplan blasted SBF at sentencing, saying he never expressed any remorse while voicing concern that "there is a risk that this man will be in position to do something very bad in the future." Kaplan said his testimony during trial was evasive at best and could have been "outright lying."

  • Catch up: SBF was found guilty of using FTX customer money for personal use, as well as to make investments, fund political donations and pay loans taken out by Alameda Research, a related hedge fund. He contended the billions of lost funds were the result of a liquidity crisis and he never intended to defraud customers. Federal prosecutors have rejected defense assertions that all customers are guaranteed to be made whole.

2) In limbo

Russia arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich one year ago today.

  • The anniversary: Gershkovich, an American citizen, was detained by the FSB last March 29 and accused of espionage. He and his newspaper have denied the charges. The U.S. government considers him wrongfully detained and has said the Russians' claims are fiction.

  • Right now: Gershkovich is being held at Moscow's infamous Lefortovo prison. Russian authorities have presented no evidence to support their accusations and have yet to formally charge him. Gershkovich's detention has been extended five times since his arrest, the latest motion keeping him imprisoned until June 30. This is the longest an American reporter has been held prisoner by Russia in close to 40 years.

  • Big picture: Russian President Vladimir Putin amplified the unfounded allegations in an interview with former Fox News star Tucker Carlson, but expressed a willingness to release Gershkovich to return home. The question appears to be how and when the U.S. and Kremlin can strike a prisoner swap to free the reporter.

3) Checking the box

A date has been set for Alejandro Mayorkas' historic -- and almost assuredly anticlimactic -- Senate impeachment trial.

  • What happened: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson will send articles of impeachment against the Homeland Security Secretary to the high chamber on April 10. The Senate would then begin its trial on April 11. But not much is expected to happen after that.

  • Quick hook: Johnson has called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold a full trial and hear House GOP arguments. But Schumer has shown no indication he will follow suit. Senate Democrats and some Republicans have said the trial is a waste of time; the trial should be quickly dismissed once the senators are sworn in as judges.

  • Catch up: The House impeached Mayorkas last month on the House GOP's second attempt after the initial vote failed, alleging his mishandling of the southern border amounts to high crimes and misdemeanors. He is the first impeached Cabinet member in almost 150 years. But most Senators have said his application of President Joe Biden's policies cannot be considered an impeachable offense.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Tuberculosis cases increased 16% last year, according to the CDC. The U.S. still has one of the lowest TB rates in the world, but it is the second straight year of greater incidence after rates dropped for decades (More)

  • New York City will test weapons detection systems in its subway stations. The decision comes amid a rise in transit crimes, but there will be a 90-day waiting period by law (More)

  • The federal government is changing how it categorizes people by ethnicity and race. Officials believe the new guidelines will more accurately count residents who identify as Hispanic and of Middle Eastern and North African descent (More)

World News

  • A bus fell 165 feet off a bridge and caught fire in South Africa, killing 45. An 8-year-old girl was the lone survivor; the passengers were pilgrims traveling to an Easter service from Botswana (More)

  • Athens is battling heavy haze as dust from the Sahara Desert has blown into Greece's capital city. Unseasonably warm temperatures have exacerbated air quality issues (More)

  • Western intelligence agencies have concluded China is indirectly funding the Houthi rebels' ongoing Red Sea attacks. The Chinese are buying illicit Iranian oil, with proceeds being sent to the militants (More)

Campaign News

  • South Carolina can use its current congressional map for the fall election. A federal court ruled Rep. Nancy Mace's district lines were the result of a racial gerrymander, but the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on an appeal (More)

  • President Biden's campaign event at Radio City Music Hall in New York was expected to raise over $25M. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama headlined the star-studded event with the president (More)

  • This fall's Los Angeles County District Attorney election will likely draw national attention due to its implications for criminal justice reform. Sitting progressive DA George Gascon earned just 25% in the primary and is facing a former Republican federal prosecutor (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed mixed yesterday. The S&P 500 ended the day at a new record close, capping its strongest Q1 since 2019 (Dow +0.12%, Nasdaq -0.12%, S&P 500 +0.11%).

  • Home Depot purchased specialty distributor SRS for $18.25B. It is the biggest acquisition in company history; the home improvement retailer is bidding for business from contractors and other home professionals (More)

  • Apple has reportedly ramped up production of new iPads and plans to launch the revamped models in May. The tech giant is focusing on upgrades of the iPad Pro and iPad Air (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Karlie Kloss and Josh Kushner's Bedford Media will revive LIFE Magazine with digital and print products. The iconic publication was shuttered in 2000 by Dotdash Meredith (More)

  • Golden Globe winner Jeremy Allen White is in talks to star in a Bruce Springsteen biopic. The proposed project would focus on the production of the Nebraska album (More)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he will not sell majority control to former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore. Taylor claimed the duo, which already owns 40% of the NBA team and the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, did not meet deadlines and obligations (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Feel Good: A boutique hotel has some very cute staff members, as two rescue dogs assist guests throughout the day.

  • Go Deep: When Hollywood is making a movie set in the past, it turns to a New York state textile shop about an hour outside of Albany. Thistle Hill Weavers is renowned for producing historically accurate costumes, as well as outfitting historic homes and high-end furniture.

  • New Discovery: Scientists may have finally found proof that triceratopses traveled in packs. Researchers found fossils of five of the horned dinosaurs grouped together.

  • Take Note: An international study found one in every six children has experienced cyberbullying. It has become far more prevalent since the start of the pandemic.

  • Kitchen Hack: Do you have to refrigerate your soy sauce? Here is everything you need to know about best practices.

  • 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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Netflix has released a trailer for Unfrosted, a star-studded comedy headline by Jerry Seinfeld that tells the "origin story" of Pop-Tarts.inks

Looking Ahead …

A re-elected President Donald Trump would be barred from receiving classified information if a new law is passed. New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill has proposed a bill that would bar government officials charged with certain crimes from having access to top secret information; Trump and embattled New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez would be impacted under the proposed legislation.

Question of the Day — Friday Trivia Edition

What was Kramer's name for the Seinfeld pilot?

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Yesterday’s results:

Star Wars or Star Trek?

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