☕️ Decision time

The vaccine mandate heads to SCOTUS...
January 07, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew


Good morning. We're almost through the first week of 2022 and have already amassed an impressive time capsule:

  • Rocco the pet rock from Sesame Street
  • Getting a Wordle in 2 tries
  • A Covid rapid test (jk no one has that)

51 more to go!

Matty Merritt, Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 7:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: The good news—if you own tech stocks—is that they didn't fall as much yesterday as they had in the previous two days. All eyes are on the December jobs report due this morning; analysts expect the economy to have added 422,000 jobs last month.
  • Politics: On the 1-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, President Biden denounced former President Trump and his allies in forceful terms, saying they held a "dagger at the throat of democracy." Congress hosted a number of remembrance events throughout the day.


We're About to Find Out if They Can Really Do That

Supreme Court with syringe sticking out of top in front of vaccine cards. Francis Scialabba

President Biden has SCOTUS coming in on their off day. The Supreme Court will hear arguments during a special hearing today on whether the White House's two vaccine mandates—that would affect 100 million American workers—can proceed.

The backstory: In November, President Biden set a January 4 deadline for a) health care workers employed at federally funded facilities to be vaccinated and b) staff at all US companies with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly. The deadline was extended to February 9 because the announcement spurred a legal mess resembling a Whattaburger dining room after 11pm.

By the end of November, a coalition of 12 states sued the Biden admin to oppose the mandate. The US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blocked the mandate, then the 6th Circuit blocked that block, and the case was volleyed to the Supreme Court.

The opposition

A mix of 50+ businesses, religious groups, and leaders of Republican-led states will argue that the vaccine mandates are an overreach by federal agencies and that they could exacerbate worker shortages, not to mention forcing employers to dip into their Friday pizza party fund to pay for all those Covid tests.

  • Key info: One thing to know about today's hearing is that SCOTUS won't be deciding if the mandates are lawful, just whether the Biden team can implement them while litigation in the lower courts continues.

It's difficult to predict what exactly the court will say, because the federal government has never attempted to impose a vaccine-or-test policy on employers. The court does have a 6–3 conservative majority, which indicates it may not be too fond of broad federal regulations. In August, SCOTUS rejected an extension of the federal eviction moratorium on grounds that the CDC didn't have the authority to enforce it.

On the other hand, the same justices voted in favor of upholding vaccine mandates for local governments, universities, and health care workers in New York and Maine.

Looking ahead…some companies aren't waiting around for the decision. Starbucks told all of its US employees on Monday that they needed to get vaxed or submit to regular testing starting February 9.—MM



The NYT is Getting Athletic in 2022

The New York Times building in Manhattan Getty Images/Johannes Eisele

The New York Times is scooping up subs like it's first in line on free lunch day. The media company has agreed to acquire subscription-based sports site The Athletic for $550 million in a deal that will help the Times reach its goal of being able to claim 10 million paid digital subscribers by 2025.

Founded in 2016 and boasting around 1.2 million subscribers, The Athletic has been shopping for a buyer for months after reportedly burning through more than $95 million between 2019 and 2020. The cash drain mainly had to do with the hiring of 600 full-time employees across North America, the UK, and Australia—all part of the effort to build a global audience of sports geeks.

The Athletic has raised around $140 million to date and was valued at $500 million in early 2020.

How they got here: Local newspaper layoffs were a key part of the success of The Athletic, as the site scooped up popular sports writers in smaller markets. In 2017, co-founder Alex Mather told the NYT, "We will wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed. …We will suck them dry of their best talent at every moment."—MK



Why the World Is Watching Kazakhstan

A burned-out automobile in Almaty, Kazakhstan ALEXANDER BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images

The Central Asian country of Kazakhstan is probably popping up on your news feed a lot more than it used to. Here's what's going on.

Violent protests erupted this week after the government lifted price caps on liquified petroleum gas, which many Kazakhs use to fuel their cars. Dozens of demonstrators and state security forces have been killed in the worst street violence in decades. Yesterday, Russia sent paratroopers into the former Soviet state after the Kazakh government asked for help in quelling the protests.

Everything's bigger in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a huge country, about 4x the size of Texas. But the country's vast natural resources, including gas, oil, coal, and minerals, make it an important area for energy giants like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron.

  • Kazakhstan is also the world's top supplier of the radioactive metal, producing 40% of the global supply. Uranium prices jumped nearly 8% from Tuesday to Wednesday as a result of the turmoil.

And of course there's a crypto angle: Kazakhstan is the second-largest country for bitcoin mining after the US, but because of an internet shutdown this week, a big chunk of the global bitcoin network's computing power has been knocked offline.—NF



Ultra Cool News


Verizon, ever heard of them? Of course you have. But have you heard that they now have 5G Ultra Wideband available in many more cities?

No? Well, that's why we're here! And we're also here to tell you why this is such a big deal. Especially if you've got a business that needs to stay connected.

With 5G Ultra Wideband, you'll get:

  • Speeds up to 10x faster than what you have now. At no extra charge.
  • Video and audio in HD. AKA fewer frozen faces and static-laden voices.
  • A connection that's faster and safer than public WiFi.

Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband means your downloads will happen in a fraction of the time—whether it's blueprints or inventories, it'll only take a matter of minutes or even seconds. You'll also have the power to connect retail operations, enable online ordering, and curbside pickup.

Basically, 5G Ultra Wideband lets you do almost anything you want, only better, faster, and safer.

Get all the ultra cool details here.


Key Performance Indicators

Stat: With Omicron denting air travel demand, Lufthansa said it would have to fly an extra 18,000 "unnecessary" flights (aka flights that are nearly empty) this winter in order to hold onto airport slots under EU regulations. Both airlines and environmentalists are urging the EU to change its airport slot rules so these polluting and financially draining ghost flights don't have to take place.

Quote: "I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem."

Tennis star Rafael Nadal remarked on his rival Novak Djokovic's predicament with a "sorry not sorry" attitude. Djokovic was denied entry to the country under its vaccination policy, and is currently being held in a government detention hotel until at least Monday, when a court will hear an appeal. The tournament begins one week later.

Read: Where's today's Beethoven? (Cold Takes)



It's Elmo's World, We're Just Quizzing in It

Weekly news quiz

The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew's Weekly News Quiz has been compared to peeling an orange in one piece.

It's that satisfying. Ace the quiz.


  • GameStop is reportedly developing an NFT marketplace and seeking out crypto partnerships, because…well, you fill out the punchline. Shares shot up more than 25% after hours.
  • Crypto-based criminal transactions hit a record $14 billion last year, up 79% from the year before, according to Chainalysis. Still, illicit transactions accounted for only 0.15% of all cryptocurrency transaction volume in 2021.
  • Walmart is cutting its paid leave in half for workers who have tested positive for Covid or who need to isolate. The company said the change reflects updated quarantine guidance from the CDC.
  • Mobile sports betting is coming to New York as soon as tomorrow.
  • Don't Look Up set a Netflix record for the most weekly hours viewed for a film.
  • Coca-Cola is launching boozy Fresca in partnership with Constellation Brands.


Spend less money on your money. Wealthfront's Tax-Loss Harvesting tool means it's working to lower the taxes you owe—which means more money to invest. Plus, their software automatically handles trading and regularly rebalancing your portfolio. Get started with Wealthfront here.*

Lend us your ears: We write a lot about the biz world in this here newsletter, but we're also known for chumming it up on the airwaves. Tune into the latest episode of our Business Casual podcast presented by Stella Artois, right here.*

Striking the balance: What is the right amount of transparency between a company's leadership and its employees? We dive in with a case study of Apple.

If you're bored of Wordle: Here's a fun set of games that tests your geography skills, like this one about African countries.

For a slow Friday at work: A timeline of the human condition.

*This is sponsored advertising content


Friday Puzzle

Find the animal concealed in each sentence.

Ex.  What shall I do, Gertrude? = dog

  1. A gold key is not a common key.
  2. Horace tries in school to be a very good boy.
  3. People who drive too fast are likely to be arrested.
  4. Did I ever tell you, Bill, I once found a dollar?
  5. John came late to his arithmetic class.
  6. I enjoy listening to music at night.


We think you should share the Brew. Not only is it a smart thing to do for your friends, it's also the smartest way to get showered in free Brew swag.

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  1. Monkey
  2. Beaver
  3. Bear
  4. Lion
  5. Camel
  6. Cat


✢ A Note From Verizon

Comparison is to median Verizon 4G LTE speeds

5G Ultra Wideband available in select areas. 

HD availability may depend on the specific Verizon data plan in which a customer is enrolled.

Public Wi-Fi speeds from March 2021 based on Opensignal independent analysis of measurements recorded during the period December 19, 2020 – March 19, 2021 © Opensignal Limited

✤ A Note From Wealthfront

Morning Brew receives cash compensation from Wealthfront Advisers LLC for sponsored advertising materials. Morning Brew is not a client and this is a paid endorsement. Please click here for further details.


Written by Neal Freyman, Matty Merritt, and Max Knoblauch

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