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Tucker Carlson's chat with Vladimir Putin...
February 09, 2024 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

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Good morning. The Super Bowl is just two days away, and if you're hosting people for the game, now's the time to start prep. A few tips:

  • Assemble layers 1 through 3 of the 7-layer dip in order to let them rest.
  • Secure avocados for optimal ripeness on Sunday.
  • Begin laying out the salami football.
  • Cheeseproof your couch and rugs.

Most importantly, designate ONE guest to bring tortilla chips so you don't end up with enough bags of Tostitos to fill a closet.

—Molly Liebergall, Cassandra Cassidy, Matty Merritt, Adam Epstein, Neal Freyman

MARKETS

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Dow

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10-Year

4.170%

Bitcoin

$45,306.00

Arm

$113.89

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 12:00am ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Stocks ticked up, putting the S&P 500 over the 5,000-point milestone for the first time, as more strong company earnings poured in. Arm flexed its chiseled, AI-enhanced physique by soaring 48% after it surprised investors with record computer chip sales.
 

INTERNATIONAL

Putin chats with fired Fox News host in rare interview

Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin Getty Images

"Woke M&Ms" hater Tucker Carlson released a highly anticipated and controversial interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin last night, making the conservative pundit the first Western media figure to get a one-on-one with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago.

In a recording released on X and Carlson's website, Putin and Carlson talked for two hours, but the conversation was mostly Putin claiming that Russia is entitled to Ukrainian territory. Carlson barely pushed back, except to ask Putin to release imprisoned US journalist Evan Gershkovich, which Putin avoided answering directly.

Reactions to the interview ranged from light mockery to disgust across the political aisle, though some conservatives and free-speech advocates applauded Carlson for the get.

Why Putin chose Carlson

The Kremlin has rejected interview requests from countless mainstream US news outlets in recent years. It has also indefinitely detained two US journalists, Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva, for what Western countries and international human rights groups condemn as sham espionage charges. Hundreds of Russian journalists have fled the country.

According to a Kremlin spokesperson, Putin agreed to meet with Carlson because "his position is different" from other Western media. But it's really because, on many issues, the Kremlin's policies and the views of Carlson and his audience go together like a lampshade and a lightbulb.

  • Carlson has repeatedly discouraged US military aid to Ukraine, peddling the Kremlin's anti-Ukraine narrative to his audience.
  • A crucial aid bill that would help Ukraine is struggling to get through Congress, thanks largely to conservative holdouts.
  • Ukraine is undergoing a military leadership changeup as president Volodymyr Zelensky replaces his top general.
  • Putin likely believed the interview would serve as a good opportunity for Russia to destabilize American support for Ukraine's defense.

What does Carlson gain? Fame and fortune, baby (he hopes). After costing his former employer hundreds of millions in lawsuit settlements for spreading lies about election fraud, Carlson is trying to keep the good times rolling as a digital influencer. He's now rubbing shoulders with Elon Musk as X tries to lure more video creators to the platform.—ML

     

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WORLD

Tour de headlines

Donald Trump Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Supreme Court appeared skeptical of efforts to keep Trump off state ballots. During oral arguments yesterday, lawyers representing Colorado voters tried to convince the high court to uphold the state's decision to bar former President Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot for engaging in insurrection. According to reports, justices on both sides of the ideological spectrum cast doubt on that idea, with Chief Justice John Roberts saying that upholding the Colorado ruling would have the "daunting consequence" of other states banning candidates of both major political parties. While an official decision isn't expected for a few months, it looks likely the court will decide Trump can stay on the Colorado ballot.

Biden won't be charged for his handling of classified documents. In a report released Thursday, special counsel Robert Hur criticized the president, saying he "willfully retained and disclosed" classified material as a private citizen at his home in Delaware after serving as vice president—but stopped short of charging Biden with any crimes. Hur said Biden's classified documents case was different from that of Trump, who's charged with 40 felonies under the Espionage Act, because Biden returned his documents when asked and cooperated with the investigation, while Trump refused to do so and allegedly directed others to lie and destroy evidence.

Volodymyr Zelensky ousted his top general in a major military shakeup. The Ukrainian president said "urgent changes" were needed to boost Ukraine's war effort as it counters Russia's invasion. Zelensky and the general, Valeriy Zaluzhniy, had reportedly disagreed in recent weeks about the optimal strategy moving forward. In an essay for the Economist, Zaluzhniy characterized the war as a stalemate, saying Ukraine wouldn't be able to recover territory lost to Russia without more resources. The ouster comes as Ukraine awaits for more aid from the US, which has been held up by Republicans in Congress.

AI

No more AI deepfake scam calls, FCC says

Images of soundwaves Francis Scialabba

Using AI to create a version of "Shut Up and Dance" sung by Plankton? Ingenious. Using an AI deepfake to make robocalls? Illegal.

That's what the FCC decided yesterday, in a unanimous vote that bans the use of AI-generated voices in robocalls. While anti-robocall rules existed already, the new rule, effective immediately, explicitly covers AI deepfakes and will make it easier for the FCC and state attorneys general to prosecute robocallers that use AI voices.

Why now? The updated rule comes after a robocall using an AI deepfake of President Biden targeted Democrats in New Hampshire, urging them not to vote in the state's primary. The Biden deepfake appears to have been made using a tool produced by a16z-backed ElevenLabs. It took investigators two weeks to determine that the calls, which went to an estimated 20,000 people, allegedly came from a Texas-based company that had been hired to conduct robocalls by federal and political action campaigns in previous elections.

Zoom out: As November 4, 2024, approaches, many experts fear the role that AI-generated robocalls could play in spreading election disinformation. Audio deepfakes can be even harder to detect than AI-generated images or videos, and they've popped up in elections in the UK, India, multiple African countries, and Slovakia.—CC

     

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WORK

Australians are logged off and unreachable after 5pm

Missed call log on iPhone from BOSS Francis Scialabba

There are about to be fewer thumbs-up emojis on Australian bosses' weekend Slack jokes.

The country's Senate passed a bill yesterday giving workers the legal right to ignore messages from their employers outside official working hours. The bill, part of a larger package of worker protections, is expected to pass the House as early as this week.

Australia joins a wave of countries like Italy, Portugal, and Kenya that have passed or are in the process of passing these "right to disconnect" laws. France, the masters of work-life balance, created the blueprint for this kind of law in 2017.

  • Workers have long complained about tech innovations like smartphones blurring the lines between work and home.
  • Experts say the rise of remote work due to the Covid-19 pandemic made the problem worse.

But don't get too excited stateside…Australia is well ahead of the US in terms of work-life balance, ranking fourth in the world, according to employment platform Remote. The US, meanwhile, ranks 53rd, because we really have to earn our beach trips.—MM

     

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

Bronze, silver, and gold medals for 2024 Paris Olympics Dimitar Dilkoff/Getty Images

Stat: Great news for those of you who'd like to own a piece of the Eiffel Tower: All you have to do is become an Olympian and win a medal. The organizers of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris unveiled the designs for the event's medals yesterday, revealing that they each contain an 18-gram iron piece of the iconic 135-year-old tower at their centers. Chaumet, the Paris jewelry house that designed the medals, fixed every medal with six small clasps meant to represent the 2.5 million rivets that hold ol' Tour Eiffel together. The Paris mint will make more than 5,000 medals, divvied up about evenly between the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Quote: "If you were discriminated against by Disney or its subsidiaries (ABC, ESPN, Marvel, etc), just reply to this post to receive legal support."

Elon Musk is already funding a lawsuit against the entertainment giant brought by actor Gina Carano, who was fired from The Mandalorian in 2021 after she shared an Instagram post comparing having right-wing political opinions in the US today to being Jewish during the Holocaust. And in a post on X, Musk made the offer to anyone who follows suit, as part of his crusades against Disney and corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Musk's spat with Disney began when the company pulled its advertising from X in November after he expressed support for an antisemitic post.

Read: The NFL's 180 on Las Vegas. (Yahoo Sports)

QUIZ

Super Quiz LVIII

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The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew's Weekly News Quiz has been compared to when your partner says, "Let's not celebrate Valentine's Day this year."

It's that satisfying. Ace the quiz.

NEWS

What else is brewing

  • Google renamed its Bard AI chatbot Gemini and released a dedicated Gemini app for Android.
  • Snoop Dogg and Master P are suing Walmart and Post Foods for allegedly hiding the rappers' cereal brand from shoppers in an attempt to sabotage it.
  • Finnair announced it will weigh some passengers at the gate as part of a trial program to improve plane weight estimates.
  • January was the warmest on record, pushing the 12-month average to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times for the first time ever.
  • Five US Marines were killed when their helicopter crashed during stormy weather in the mountains outside San Diego, California.

RECS

Friday to-do list

Chip in: Recipes for 12 "crowd-pleasing" dips to impress your Super Bowl party guests.

Don't be jealous: This $9 million Georgia home has a replica Old West town made by a Six Flags set designer.

Learn: In honor of yesterday's NBA trade deadline, here's the original meaning of the word "deadline," courtesy of Merriam Webster.

Watch: The cast of Dune: Part Two plays "True or False?" with Jimmy Kimmel.

Love is $150: The best Valentine's gift for your finance team? Take a demo with BILL and they'll give you a complimentary $150 Amazon gift card. Kiss tedious financial tasks goodbye.*

*A message from our sponsor.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Jigsaw: See what kind of gravity-defying aerials the skiers are up to at the Winter X Games in today's Jigsaw.

Friday puzzle

Can you think of four words in the English language that begin with "dw"?

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ANSWER

Dwarf, dwell (and its permutations), dwindle, dweeb.

Word of the Day

Today's Word of the Day is: lampshade, meaning "a cover that softens or directs the light of a lamp." Thanks to Jordan from New York for the enlightening suggestion. Submit another Word of the Day here.

         
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