☕ Bye Howard

Another Russian executive dies under mysterious circumstances...
September 02, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew


Good morning. Labor Day weekend is here, and whether you're already on your way to a lake house, counting down to 5pm at work, or scouring SeatGeek for remotely affordable Serena Williams tickets tonight, make sure you check out the Morning Brew Store, where there's a pretty spectacular sale going on. Deals on crewnecks, mugs, and everything else you'll need for the fall are starting at 50% off. Browse here.

And have a great weekend, whatever you're getting into.

Abby Rubenstein, Matty Merritt, Max Knoblauch, Neal Freyman














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 10:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Things might just be looking up for stocks as September begins—the Dow and S&P 500 both ended the day slightly higher, busting out of a four-day losing streak. Tech stocks fell, though, including chip giant Nvidia after the US blocked sales of some of its chips to China.
  • Economy: On their helicopter ride out to the Hamptons this morning, investors will be tearing apart the August jobs report to try to anticipate how the Fed will play future interest rate hikes. Economists predict that 318,000 jobs were added last month, but good news might be bad news—a too-hot labor market might spark greater inflation concerns.


The kids are not alright

Empty classroom Eric Lalmand/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images

The results are in, and the pandemic—and its school shutdowns—made a massive dent in how much kids learned over the last two years. National test scores for US nine-year-olds released yesterday showed that math and reading proficiency dropped to their lowest levels in decades.

The math scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, often dubbed the "nation's report card," reflect the first decline since the government started tracking the data in 1971, with the average score dipping seven points between 2020 and 2022. The average reading score went down five points, the largest fall in more than 30 years.

Covid didn't affect all kids equally: The lowest-performing students were the most impacted.

  • Kids in the 90th percentile had a mere three-point drop in math, while scores dipped 12 points for those in the bottom 10th.
  • Though scores went down across racial lines, the gap between Black and white students in math widened. Scores dropped 13 points for Black students but just five points for white students, increasing the existing disparity by eight points.
  • The steepest declines were in the Midwest and Northeast, though scores decreased all across the US.

And it's not just test scores that are looking grim—school violence, absenteeism, cyberbullying, and students using mental health services, as well as teacher vacancies, all went up during the pandemic.

Big picture: Your mom might have assured you that the fourth-grade geology test you failed won't matter in the long run, but…education experts say it will be tough for kids who fell this far behind at age nine to catch up. That means Covid's toll on education is likely to have economic consequences for a long time to come.

Still, schools are racing to get kids back up to speed. The federal government has earmarked $122 billion to help students get past the pandemic, and some of that cash is being spent on tutoring. More after-school programs and summer schools are other options to get kids where they need to be.—AR



What powers your future?


We know what's fueling you today: the 8 (er, 6?) hours of sleep you got last night, your third cup of coffee, your online shopping cart filled with promises of a fresh fall wardrobe, and the new smart glasses you're planning to buy yourself ~as a little treat~.

But have you ever thought about what's powering your future? Ya know, like new tech that'll keep you organized and get you where you want to be, or devices that'll make your life so much easier, you don't have to remove the coffee stains from your desk yourself.

Imagine a tomorrow designed around you. Join Buick for an electrifying future ahead.



Tour de headlines

A twitter eraser editing a tweet saying "still no edit button?" Francis Scialabba

Twitter to add an edit button. After years of requests from users and a little push from Elon Musk, Twitter plans to allow edits to tweets up to 30 minutes after they're sent. So far, Twitter's just testing the feature internally, but the company plans to roll it out to paying Twitter Blue subscribers soon. Edited tweets will be marked with a label to let users know they've been changed, and prior versions of the tweet will still be viewable, in an effort to prevent misinformation from spreading on the platform.

Starbucks named its new CEO. Laxman Narasimhan, most recently CEO of consumer goods company Reckitt, will take the reins from interim chief and Starbucks founder Howard Schultz in April. He's taking over during a turbulent time when the coffee chain is reinventing the way frappuccinos are made and trying to fend off a unionization drive by its baristas. The appointment also means another person of Indian descent will head up an influential American company—the top dogs at Microsoft, Google, Twitter, IBM, Adobe, and many other tech giants are all of Indian descent.

OnlyFans creators raked in $3.9 billion in 2021. That's a 115% annual jump for creators on the adult content-focused platform, bringing the total payout for creators since the 2016 inception of OnlyFans to $8 billion. The number of creators rose 34% from last year to 2.16 million, but most of those creators aren't pulling in six figures. According to data from last August, about 16,000 OnlyFans creators earn at least $50,000 annually, while about 300 earn $1+ million.


Russian oligarchs keep dying mysteriously

Vladimir Putin and Ravil Maganov Russian President Vladimir Putin standing beside Lukoil Chairman Ravil Maganov. Mikhail Klimentyev/Getty Images

Ravil Maganov, chairman of energy giant Lukoil, died yesterday after falling from the window of a Moscow hospital, according to Russian state media. Maganov's demise is the latest in a series of mysterious, high-profile deaths among Russian executives—many of them in the energy industry—since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russian news agencies reported Maganov's death as a suicide, and claimed he'd been taking antidepressants and was admitted to the hospital following a heart attack. But, according to Reuters, three sources close to Maganov don't believe he would have taken his own life. Lukoil, in a statement, said that its chairman "passed away following a serious illness."

Lukoil produces 2% of the world's supply of crude oil and, at the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it broke with the Kremlin's messaging by calling for "the soonest termination of the armed conflict."

Zoom out: There's reason to be skeptical of these Russian media reports. Maganov's death marks the eighth shady death of a Russian oligarch in the past six months. Another former Lukoil executive, Alexander Subbotin, died in May of what local media reported as a heart attack brought on by the ingestion of toad venom to cure a hangover.—MK



United probably owes you a sandwich

Air travel dashboard from Department of Transportation with flying airplane. Illustration: Dianna "Mick" McDougall, Source: US Department of Transportation

In an effort to keep airline complaints off your Twitter timelines, the Department of Transportation yesterday released a customer service dashboard so you'll know exactly what a carrier owes you for delaying or canceling your flight. The Biden administration launched the site just ahead of Labor Day weekend, when travel is expected to match, and maybe even exceed, pre-pandemic levels.

The dashboard is a response to a rough summer for flyers across the country. Since the start of Memorial Day weekend, US airlines have canceled roughly 55,000 flights and delayed more than 550,000 because of staffing and other operational problems. The DOT said it received 5,862 airline complaints in June; that's three times more than in June 2019.

The government is especially intent on you getting your money's worth after Congress gave airlines $50 billion in pandemic bailouts.

Some good news: Autumn skies are looking a lot clearer. High summer fares have already started to chill out in the past few weeks, and while delays are up this Labor Day compared to 2021, outright cancellations are down.

Looking ahead...if you're already thinking about winter holiday travel, here are a few booking tips from Google.—MM



Key performance indicators

Chart of the change in majors over time at US universities Chart: Morning Brew

Stat: For back-to-school week, we decided to visualize the change in bachelor's degrees across the US from 2010–2020. The big finding, which isn't particularly surprising, is STEM-related majors have surged while the number of humanities students has dwindled. It's only a matter of time before degrees in computer science alone surpass all humanities degrees collectively, researcher Benjamin Schmidt notes.

Quote: "Whatever that AirDrop thing is—quit sending naked pictures. Let's get yourself to Cabo."

A Southwest pilot recently shut down passengers trying to get their virtual freak on in his airplane. As documented in a viral TikTok video, unidentified nudes were being AirDropped before a flight took off to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, so the pilot announced that if it didn't stop he would be turning this plane around and heading back to the gate.

Read: Why does the theater of airport security persist? (The Verge)


Quiz (edited)

Weekly news quiz

The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew's Weekly News Quiz has been compared to beating the ETA on Google Maps.

It's that satisfying. Ace the quiz.


It doesn't have to be expensive to be useful: Here are 31 small gadgets to make your life a little bit better.

Music for bird and cello: Watch Yo-Yo Ma perform in the woods with avian accompaniment.

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  • President Biden, in a rare prime-time address to the nation, accused former President Trump and the MAGA movement of extremism that "threatens the very foundations of our republic."
  • Chengdu, a Chinese city of 21 million people, has been locked down for four days of mass Covid testing.
  • UN inspectors visited a Ukrainian nuclear plant controlled by Russian troops that some fear may be on the verge of catastrophe.
  • California passed major climate change legislation Wednesday night that features $54 billion in clean energy and anti-drought spending, as well as plans to keep its last nuclear plant open.


The puzzle section

Jigsaw: Go cliff diving in the Brew's newest puzzle format, Jigsaw. Play it here.

Friday puzzle

Today's puzzle, coming to us from the Guardian, will test your logical reasoning.

A group of people are in a room. Everyone is wearing either an orange or an indigo birthday hat. Each person can see the other people's hats, but not their own.

One of them shouts, "If you can see at least six orange hats and at least six indigo hats, raise your glass!"

Exactly 12 people raise their glasses. How many people are in the room?

Blind dates can't believe how much they each spend

Blind dates can't believe how much they each spend

Blind dates can be terrifying, but luckily for this couple, the vibes are immaculate. Will the vibes stay immaculate when they find out how much the other spends on the daily? Watch here.

Check out more from the Brew:

On Business Casual, the CEO of Zillow offers solutions for the housing crisis, and gives his hot takes on the future of real estate and homebuying. Listen or watch here.

Give your career the boost it's been waiting for. Apply today for the Brew's eight-week Leadership Accelerator to become the leader you've always imagined.


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Written by Neal Freyman, Abigail Rubenstein, Matty Merritt, and Max Knoblauch

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