☕ 9 years

Brittney Griner is sentenced to Russian prison...
August 05, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

CardCritics

Good morning. Yes, we typically hold off on puzzles until the end of the newsletter. But it's a summer Friday and we're dropping a bonus trivia question for you to chew on as you read the Brew.

What do the following songs have in common?

  • "Any Way You Want It" (Journey)
  • "Bad Blood" (Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar)
  • "Cruise" (Florida Georgia Line)
  • "Dancing Queen" (ABBA)

You can find the answer at the bottom of the newsletter.

Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch

MARKETS

Nasdaq

12,720.58

S&P

4,151.94

Dow

32,726.82

10-Year

2.697%

Bitcoin

$22,531.75

Coinbase

$88.90

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 11:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Investors played it cautious ahead of today's jobs report, with the major indexes closing out the day more or less where they started. Coinbase kept its recent rally going after it announced a partnership with BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world. Even though Coinbase stock has gained 60% over the past month, it's still down 65% for the entire year.
  • Speaking of the jobs report: It'll be released at 8:30am ET against the backdrop of hiring freezes, layoffs, and greater numbers of Americans filing jobless claims. Despite all that, the US economy is still projected to have added 250,000 jobs last month.

GEOPOLITICS

Griner sentenced to 9 years

Brittney Griner in Russian prison Evgenia Novozhenina/Getty Images

Brittney Griner, one of the biggest women's basketball stars on the planet, was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison after being convicted of drug charges. It sets the stage for a high-stakes prisoner swap between two fierce geopolitical rivals: the US and Russia.

The backstory: Griner has been detained in Russia since February, when customs officials said they found vape cartridges containing less than one gram of hashish oil in her luggage when entering the country. Griner, like many other American women's basketball players over the years, has competed in the Russian basketball league during the WNBA's offseason, where players are typically paid much more than they are in the States.

During the trial, Griner pleaded guilty to the charges, but argued that carrying those cartridges was an "honest mistake" that was the result of hasty packing. "I had no intent to break Russian law," Griner said as she asked for leniency. That—and any defense, really—had virtually no chance of working out: Russian courts have a conviction rate above 99%.

What next?

The US will push ahead with negotiations for a prisoner swap, which, according to Russian officials, couldn't take place before a verdict was reached in her trial.

Faced with increased pressure to bring Griner home, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last week that he put a "substantial" offer on the table for Griner and another American prisoner in Russia, former Marine Paul Whelan. He didn't say who the US would give up to get them back, but unofficial reports stated that the bargaining chip is arms dealer Viktor Bout, who's been dubbed the "merchant of death."

Big picture: After the verdict was handed down, Griner received an outpouring of support from fellow WNBA players, NBA and WNBA leadership, and US officials who vowed to bring her home following this "miscarriage of justice."—NF

        

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WORLD

Tour de headlines

Sandy Hook memorial Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Alex Jones to pay millions to Sandy Hook family. A jury ordered the Infowars host to pay at least $4.1 million to the parents of an elementary student killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. The family was seeking $150 million in damages after Jones repeatedly, and falsely, claimed to his audience that they were actors in a government plot to stage the massacre. This trial was the first of three that will decide how much Jones owes the families of 10 Sandy Hook victims.

Sinema gives her blessing. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, said she was ready to move forward with the Inflation Reduction Act, a massive bill focused on climate, taxes, and healthcare. Her support removes the final hurdle for Democrats to pass it without any Republican votes. She did wrestle a few concessions from fellow Dems, including the removal of a tax hike on some finance executives. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will cut their weekend short to advance the bill on Saturday, and that a final version of the legislation could pass next week.

Police charged in Breonna Taylor raid. The DOJ charged four current and former Louisville police officers for several crimes in connection with the killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in March 2020, which sparked protests for racial justice around the country. Among the charges, prosecutors accused the officers of falsifying an affidavit in order to obtain a "no-knock" search warrant for her home, which they raided as part of a narcotics case.

HEALTH

US declares monkeypox a public health emergency

Pharmacist prepares the monkeypox vaccine Mario Tama/Getty Images

With at least 6,600 official cases and ultimately facing a spread of unknown size, the US has the world's largest outbreak of monkeypox. Yesterday, the Biden administration joined the World Health Organization and a handful of states in declaring monkeypox a public health emergency.

The declaration will free up funding to fight the virus by expediting treatments and vaccine development, and it will give agencies like the CDC access to state data that should help in keeping case numbers up to date.

Groundhog Day vibes: Given how much was known about a virus that was first discovered in 1958, and the takeaways from the early failures with Covid-19, many public health experts have been critical of the Biden administration's monkeypox response.

Since May 18, monkeypox has spread throughout the country relatively unchecked due to slow, ineffective testing and a severe shortage of vaccines.

  • Although the US once held more than 20 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine, called Jynneos, in its national stockpile, the country had just 2,400 doses on US soil as the outbreak began.
  • Officials also waited weeks before ordering the delivery of nearly 400,000 doses it had stored in Denmark, where the vaccine is manufactured.

Looking ahead…following FDA approval, 800,000 additional doses of the vaccine will be allocated to various states and jurisdictions, US health officials said.—MK

        

ENTERTAINMENT

Warner Bros. Discovery scraps the playbook

Succession GIF of Logan Roy Succession/HBO via Giphy

In its earnings call yesterday, newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery unveiled its new streaming strategy, providing some clarity around swirling rumors that the company would gut HBO Max and scrap many of its beloved originals—as it recently scrapped the already finished Batgirl.

Basically, the unthinkable will happen: There will be fewer streaming services. The plan is to eventually merge Warner Bros. Discovery's two flagship streaming platforms, HBO Max and Discovery+, into one product set to launch next summer. According to CEO David Zaslav, the company will also offer a free, ad-supported product similar to those offered by competitors. More presently, viewers can expect HBO Max to get a bit less scripted—the entire Chip and Joanna Gaines Cinematic Fixer Upper Universe will be coming to the streamer in September.

The company is also giving off Nicole Kidman AMC commercial vibes by betting on theatrical releases for its films and ditching its infamous 2021 direct-to-streaming strategy. So instead of watching Dune: Part Two over three consecutive nights on your hotel TV, you'll have to buy a ticket like in the olden days.

Smushing things together to save money is all part of the plan for the famously frugal Zaslav, who told investors earlier this year that the company would be judicious and not "win the spending war."—MK

        

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

The Earth spinning swiftly Francis Scialabba

Stat: The Earth's new Hokas have arrived. On June 29, our planet had its shortest day ever recorded, completing its full rotation 1.59 milliseconds quicker than normal. The Earth has actually been posting PRs for the past several years, experiencing its previous 28 shortest days on record in 2020. And should the Earth keep up its torrid pace, potentially we'd have to add a "negative leap second" to sync back up with atomic clocks.

Quote: "Oh Noes … The Cracker Barrel has gone WOKE!!! It really is the end times …"

Been a minute since we've been able to enjoy an all-out brawl in the comments section, but one broke out this week when Cracker Barrel, a chain known for its Southern classics, posted on Facebook that it would introduce plant-based protein as an optional substitute for bacon or sausage. Attacks on boomers, Trumpers, "woke" liberals, and more filled the replies all because of...one new menu item.

Read: An analysis of Elon Musk's business strategy across Tesla, SpaceX, and his other companies. (Harvard Business Review)

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QUIZ

Zombie quiz

Weekly news quiz

The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew's Weekly News Quiz has been compared to waking up without a hangover after a full night of partying.

It's that satisfying. Ace the quiz.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • US oil prices fell below $90 a barrel for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Coral reef news: But wait, it's not bad! Coral levels in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef have hit their highest point in 36 years.
  • The Premier League season kicks off today. Mentally preparing ourselves for some early weekend wake-up times.
  • Correction: We wrote that Barack Obama was turning 60 yesterday, when he was actually turning 61. Guess the presidency ages you faster than we thought.

BREW'S BETS

Go for a dip: Here are the best public swimming pools in the world.

Reads for the fall: A list of the most highly anticipated books coming out the rest of the year. And 66 novels for back-to-school reading.

SlamBall is back: The basketball/MMA/trampoline fusion is making its return next summer after more than a decade away. Relive some of the top plays here.

GAMES

Friday puzzle

Find a number less than 100 that is increased by one-fifth of its value when its digits are reversed.

Being a Chief Happiness Officer in 2022

Being a Chief Happiness Officer in 2022

Chief Happiness Officer was never a great gig. This year, it's even harder. We dive into it on our latest episode of Good Work.

For more from the Brew:

The latest episode of Business Casual will help you deal with difficult people at work, communicate without being confrontational, and know when to speak up. Listen or watch here.

Stuck on how to navigate your career? The Brew's Leadership Accelerator sets you up with exec coaching and more so you can plan your next step.

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ANSWER

Song answer: They all begin with the chorus.

Friday puzzle answer: 45 → 54

         

Written by Neal Freyman and Max Knoblauch

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