Your Daily Brief

September 21st, 2022

Good morning, and happy Wednesday! Did you know that Earth, Wind, & Fire’s classic song September–which alludes to the 21st night of this month, aka tonight–was actually released on November 18th, 1978? Apparently lead singer Maurice White chose the date simply because he liked how it sounded when it was sung. Anyways, while you think about that, here’s what we have for you:

In Today’s Brief

  • Iran: Protests over the death of Mahsa Amini roll into fourth day
  • New York City: Ends vaccine mandate for in-person employees at private businesses
  • Jimmy Kimmel: Extends contract with ABC for three more years
  • Ford Motor Co: Loses over $7B in market value in one day
  • Beyond Meat: Suspends COO for allegedly biting a man’s nose
  • Top Tips: 47 people indicted in Minnesota for allegedly stealing $250M from a program that provides low-income children with meals; Gap Inc. laying off about 5% of its workforce; FDA issues warning against social media trend that promotes cooking chicken with NyQuil

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DOJ charges 47 people with stealing $250M from a program that provides meals to low-income kids

Federal authorities charged 47 individuals in Minnesota with conspiracy and other counts in connection with an alleged scheme to steal $250M from a program that provides meals to low-income children.

According to prosecutors, the individuals created companies that claimed to serve over 125M meals to children across Minnesota and then sought reimbursement for those meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Federal Child Nutrition Program, which helps bring free meals to low-income children. However, prosecutors claimed that few meals were served, and the defendants instead used the money to buy cars, property, and jewelry. In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland described the alleged plot as “the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme charged to date.”

A nonprofit called Feeding Our Future submitted the claims for reimbursement and received kickbacks from doing so, per prosecutors. Feeding Our Future’s founder and executive director, Aimee Bock, was among the 47 indicted.

Gap is laying off about 500 corporate jobs in the U.S. & Asia

Gap Inc. is laying off 5% of its workforce–or about 500 corporate employees–in an effort to cut expenses, according to an announcement from the company.

A company spokesperson confirmed the layoffs will affect its main offices in San Francisco, New York, and Asia. The retailer is eliminating open positions across several departments and has begun notifying corporate employees, of which there were about 8,700 in headquarters locations as of January 29th, per the company’s annual report. In a memo to employees yesterday, Gap’s executive chairman and interim CEO Bob Martin said, “We’ve let our operating costs increase at a faster rate than our sales, and in turn our profitability.”

The job cuts come days after Kanye West informed the company that he is ending his partnership with it through his lawyer Nicholas Gravante Jr., who claimed Gap breached the agreement by not releasing apparel and failing to open Yeezy-dedicated stores as planned.

FDA warns against cooking chicken with NyQuil cold medicine

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning advising consumers against following a TikTok trend that promotes cooking chicken in the cold medicine NyQuil.

The process–known online as the “sleepy chicken” trend–involves marinating chicken breasts in NyQuil and cooking them in a pan. NyQuil contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine, per the FDA. In the statement it issued, the agency said that “boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways. Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the medication’s vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body.”

As recently as yesterday, a search on TikTok for “NyQuil chicken” turns up related videos with around 17M views. The FDA’s warning follows the emergence of other social media trends such as the “blackout challenge,” which encouraged people to choke themselves and was accused of causing the deaths of two children in a lawsuit filed against TikTok in July.

Around the Globe

  • Protests went on for a fourth straight day across Iran over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the country’s morality police for “unsuitable attire” and died last week in police custody
  • Four areas of Ukraine under Russian control announced plans for referendums on joining Russia that may pave the way for Russian annexation; Russian-backed officials in the east and south parts of Ukraine said they want votes on the referendums beginning this week
  • A man protesting a state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set himself on fire near the office of current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo yesterday and was later taken to the hospital, per reports from Japanese media outlets

On the Homefront

  • The Federal Trade Commission has begun a review of Amazon’s $1.7B takeover of robot vacuum maker iRobot to determine whether the deal violates antitrust law, according to people with knowledge of the matter
  • New York City is lifting its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for in-person employees of private businesses; Mayor Eric Adams also said that NYC students will no longer need to be vaccinated to participate in extracurricular activities and that the mandate will remain in place for city employees
  • San Diego State University students will be offered a course on Bad Bunny in 2023 taught by associate director of journalism and media studies Dr. Nathian Shae Rodriguez that will reportedly focus on the singer’s impact on Latine culture

Glitz & Games

  • Jimmy Kimmel Live was renewed for three more years on ABC; host Jimmy Kimmel said his contract was extended and that the talk show will air through season 23
  • The National Football League suspended Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Bobby Hart for one game for reportedly attempting to punch a Titans player after Monday night's game but instead hitting a Tennessee coach
  • Kim Kardashian will be honored with a Giving Tree Award by nonprofit organization Baby2Baby for “substantial financial contributions” since 2013; the company confirmed that Kardashian has donated over $500K plus $5M worth of items including clothing and hygiene products for the women and children it serves

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes in the stock market fell ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates this week (Dow -1.01%, Nasdaq -0.95%, S&P 500 -1.13%)
  • Chamath Palihapitiya is shuttering two tech SPACs after failing to find adequate merger targets; the SPACs being closed are called Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. IV (NYSE: IPOD) and Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. VI (NYSE: IPOF), and all proceeds will be returned to shareholders
  • Ford Motor Company stock (NYSE: F) fell by 12.3% to close at $13.09 yesterday; the company experienced its largest single day of losses since 2011 and its market value dropped by over $7B

Tip & Tricks

  • Sneak Peek: Cover your eyes and curl up inside your blanket when you watch the official trailer for the Hellraiser remake coming out on October 7th on Hulu
  • Bump This: Since we can’t take a college course on Bad Bunny at SDSU next year, we’re listening to these essential reggaetón playlists on Apple Music and Spotify
  • Chow Down: Who said chicken isn’t a creative food? If you’re in the mood to flex your cooking skills and expand your culinary repertoire, check out these 30 ways you’ve never eaten chicken before 
  • Nerd Out: Watch this debut video of the world’s first flying bike from Japanese startup AERWINS Technologies; the XTURISMO hoverbike is capable of staying airborne for 40 minutes and reaching speeds of up to 62 mph (kiss sitting in traffic goodbye, baby!)
  • Say What: “When it comes to crypto as a payment method, we saw a lot of demand from our clients, let’s say up until six months ago. We see very little right now,” JPMorgan Chase’s Global Head of Payments Takis Georgakopoulos said when speaking on the current demand for cryptocurrency payments
  • Hot Goss: Beyond Meat suspended its Chief Operating Officer Doug Ramsey after he was arrested this past weekend for allegedly biting a man’s nose in an Arkansas parking garage after a college football game (so much for sticking to a plant-based diet, eh?)
  • Life Hack: If you’re bogged down with middle-of-the-week blues, take time to recharge with these five simple mindfulness practices to help you stay present in your daily life

Looking Back…

On September 21st: J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Hobbit is published (1937); Belize gains independence from the United Kingdom (1981); Green Day releases its album American Idiot which went on to win a Grammy Award for best rock album and become adapted into a Broadway musical (2004); American novelist Stephen King is born (1947).

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