Your Daily Brief

July 21st, 2023

Good morning, and happy Friday! If you grew up listening to post-grunge music in the late 90s and early aughts, we have an update that may interest you. The rock band Creed announced that they will reunite for their first shows in 12 years in 2024 when they set sail on a cruise that will travel from Miami to the Bahamas in April. Would you be interested in taking a tropical cruise with Creed as the headliner?

In Today’s Brief

  • Ukraine: Now using U.S. cluster bombs
  • Broadway: Stagehand strike averted
  • Commanders: NFL approves sale
  • Whole Foods: Rolling out pay-by-palm

...and more

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Top Tips

Fed launches instant payments

The Federal Reserve launched its FedNow instant-payments service yesterday, which allows individuals and establishments to send and receive payments in seconds.

In a press release, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the central bank “built the FedNow Service to help make everyday payments over the coming years faster and more convenient,” and added that its benefits “will include enabling a person to immediately receive a paycheck, or a company to instantly access funds when an invoice is paid.” So far, 35 early adopters, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, have signed up. The system will be available 24-7, but customers may not have access until their bank makes it available.

A previous study found that roughly four in five Americans use mobile payment apps, such as PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle. FedNow’s launch comes a month after U.S. regulators warned that storing funds on these platforms is not secure because they do not deposit directly into individual bank accounts.

Iraq cuts ties with Sweden

Iraq severed diplomatic ties with Sweden yesterday after a planned anti-Quran demonstration unfolded in Stockholm, during which an individual stepped on and kicked the Islamic holy book and Iraqi flag.

Protesters stormed the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad, overrunning the diplomatic compound for several hours and starting a fire. The embassy staff had been evacuated a day earlier. Following the demonstration, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced the expulsion of the Swedish ambassador from Iraq and the withdrawal of other Iraqi diplomatic officials from Sweden. The Iraqi government condemned the attack on the Swedish embassy and said that 20 people had been taken into custody.

Iraqis are the second-largest minority group living in Sweden, with over 146K Iraqi-born people living in the country and more than 79K Swedes with at least one Iraqi-born parent. The incident comes nine days after Turkey, a majority Muslim country, agreed to back Sweden’s NATO bid after months of blocking its application.

Chicken McNugget verdict

A Florida jury determined that McDonald’s must pay $800K in damages to a girl who was burned when a Chicken McNugget fell on her leg as her mother pulled away from the drive-thru of a franchise location in 2019.

Lawyers for the family of Olivia Caraballo–who was 4 when she was left with second-degree burns–were seeking $15M in damages. McDonald’s lawyers argued that the child was no longer in pain after the wound healed, which they said took about three weeks. They contended that Caraballo’s mother is the one who has the problem with the scar the injury caused, and told jurors that $156K should cover damages, both past and future.

The case drew similarities to a separate incident in New Mexico when a jury granted 81-year-old Stella Liebeck $2.7M in damages after she was burned by McDonald’s coffee in 1992. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns and spent more than a week in the hospital.

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Around the Globe

  • The White House confirmed that Ukraine is using cluster bombs provided by the U.S. in the ongoing war with Russia; cluster bombs scatter multiple bomblets and are banned by more than 100 nations due to their threat to civilians (More)
  • An oil spill in Ecuador released about 1.2K barrels into the Pacific Ocean and contaminated miles of oceanfront, the Ecuadorian government confirmed; spokespeople for the state-owned oil firm Petroecuador said the incident took place Wednesday (More)
  • North Korea threatened the potential use of its nuclear arms and warned the U.S. that its deployment of nuclear assets in South Korea could meet the conditions for its use of similar weapons, per reports from state media (More)

On the Homefront

  • The union representing Broadway stagehands and backstage workers reached a tentative deal with producers, theater owners, and operators to avert a strike that could have shut down shows in New York and touring shows as soon as today (More)
  • New York City agreed to pay over $13M to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought on behalf of roughly 1.3K people who claim they were arrested or beaten by police during demonstrations in the city during the summer of 2020; the settlement must still be approved by a judge (More)
  • Hacker-turned-cybersecurity consultant Kevin Mitnick passed away at age 51 following a 14-month-long battle with pancreatic cancer; Mitnick was once dubbed the “most wanted” computer hacker in the world by investigators (More)

Glitz & Games

In partnership with Xero Shoes

  • The Washington Commanders were sold to Josh Harris and others for $6.05B, officially ending Dan Snyder’s two-decade-plus run as team owner; the NFL also announced a $60M fine for Snyder for misconduct and improprieties during his tenure (More)
  • The search warrant in Tupac Shakur’s murder investigation executed by Nevada police was to look for laptops and other electronic devices at the home of a gang member who said he was in the car when the rapper was fatally shot in 1996 (More)
  • Shakira is facing a second probe into alleged tax fraud in Spain; the singer is already awaiting trial for alleged tax evasion of $16.2M for the years 2012, 2013, and 2014 (More)

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Business & Markets

  • Major indexes in the stock market ended mixed, with the Nasdaq logging its worst-performing day since early March (Dow +0.47%, Nasdaq -2.05%, S&P 500 -0.68%)
  • Shoppers will be able to pay with their palms at all Whole Foods stores in the U.S. by the end of the year, according to an announcement from parent company Amazon (More)
  • Google is exploring using AI tools to write news articles and is in talks with several publishers and news organizations to use the tools to assist journalists, per statements from company spokespeople (More)

Tips & Tricks

  • Feel Good: Meet Annie Nicholson, the artist behind London’s new ‘Grief Disco Kiosk’ - a space where the public can go to dance out grief; driven by the passing of her family, Nicholson hopes the kiosk will help bring people together in their grief to process complex feelings in a physical way
  • Sneak Peek: Hulu has debuted its eerie first look at American Horror Story: Delicate - the series’ twelfth season is set to be another mind-bending ride starring Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevigne, and Emma Roberts
  • Bump This: Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter Wyatt Flores evokes nostalgia from the Fleetwood Mac classic “Landslide” in his new single “Holes” - listen on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube
  • Chow Down: Sometimes cooking a full meal just isn’t worth the time and effort, especially when you’re left with a bunch of dishes to wash - try this mouth-watering one-pan garlic butter shrimp with orzo recipe for those of us who love cooking but not the clean-up
  • Go Deep: Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Deal, an agreement that has been critical to keeping global food prices stable and preventing famine - take a deep dive into the details of the grain deal and why it’s so important to the global food supply chain
  • Hot Goss: Vanna White reportedly signed a new deal to return as host of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune but hasn’t yet made a decision on the syndicated main show Wheel of Fortune, as her contract runs through 2024
  • Life Hack: One smoothie per day is arguably one of the easiest ways to pack in loads of nutrients, and the options for add-ins are virtually limitless - here are three smoothie add-ins for a healthier gut and inflammatory response


Ranking where U.S. home prices are falling the most.

YouTubers explore a crevice that leads to a massive cave.

Examining why maps are oriented with North at the top.

Visualizing how Chinese citizens feel about other countries.

The similarities and differences between tequila and mezcal.

ChatGPT may soon face off with a new competitor: Apple.

Before the film comes out, get to know J. Robert Oppenheimer.

…and see the island where he spent some of his final days.

Looking Back…

On July 21st: Guns N' Roses release their debut album Appetite for Destruction (1987); The U.S. space shuttle program ends after 135 missions (2011); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is released (2007); writer Ernest Hemingway is born (1899).

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