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Headline News. Some of the stories making the news.

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Headline News. Some of the stories making the news.

 X no longer marks the spot. Yesterday, workers took down the giant glowing X sign installed Friday at the San Francisco headquarters of the Elon Musk-owned company formerly known as Twitter. Neighbors had complained about the brightness, and city officials said they had been told the sign was temporary. In other news at the recently renamed company, it has threatened to sue researchers who track hate speech and found that it had increased on the social media platform since Musk took over, claiming they are harming the business.

 It’s getting harder to get a loan. A Fed survey released yesterday shows banks are being stingier when handing out cash, thanks to all those interest rate hikes. A net 51% of banks said they’d raised their standards for large- and medium-sized business loans last quarter, up from 46% during Q1 and the highest since 2008 (not counting the pandemic). For consumer loans, more banks than last quarter said they had upped credit card loan standards, but not as many banks tightened auto loan standards. Banks expect standards to keep getting stricter, with most reporting they’ll continue to raise the bar across loan categories.

 California wants to know what your car is doing with your data. California’s new privacy regulator—the only agency in the US devoted solely to privacy issues—has announced its first investigation, and it plans to probe whether your smart car is too smart. The watchdog’s enforcement division plans to examine what manufacturers are doing with the data collected from internet-connected autos, including location data that is highly sought after by advertisers, info on driver behavior coveted by insurance companies, and data from cameras and apps.

ENERGY

1st all-new US nuclear reactor in decades goes live

Homer reading about building nuclear reactorThe Simpsons/20th Television via Giphy

Homer Simpson’s expertise is wanted down South: Georgia’s Plant Vogtle has taken a brand-new reactor online, the company that operates it announced yesterday.

The first built-from-scratch nuclear reactor to get turned on in the US in decades is supplying electricity to Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, with capacity to power up to 500,000 homes and businesses.

The new reactor is part of a larger expansion at Vogtle, which already had two operational reactors and will add a fourth one by next spring…if everything goes according to plan. But things haven’t so far: The new reactor went live seven years later than planned, and costs ballooned from $14 billion to nearly $35 billion.

The delays and cost overruns have led some experts to oppose new nuclear plant construction as impractical, but the public is warming up to the energy source. Recent polls show the highest level of support for nuclear power in a decade. It currently supplies almost 50% of US carbon-free electricity, and many experts believe it’s an essential clean energy supplement to wind and solar.

Other countries are also going nuclear…two new nuclear energy projects were announced in Canada this month, while China plans to build at least six to eight new reactors a year.—SK

        

FROM THE CREW

The Crew

Robot revolution? Not quite. You can breathe a sign of relief—AI isn’t replacing your job just yet. Instead, MIT researchers are hopeful we can work collaboratively with ChatGPT, DALL-E, and more. Check out Tech Brew’s take on what AI can and can’t do—and assess its potential implications in your field of work.

RETAIL

What would you pay for a Birken stock?

Birkenstock sandal in display window.John MacDougall/Getty Images

Wearing the chunkiest, ugliest shoes has always been in fashion for some. But now it’s clog girl summer, and Birkenstock is bracing for a possible September IPO that would value the company anywhere from $8 billion to $10 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Birks have always been lurking. The German sandal has enjoyed several waves of popularity since it first arrived in the US in the ’60s, including in the 90s and 2000s when the brand proved it wasn’t just for Deadheads as mega celebrities wore them. And just like other perfectly horrendous footwear options (Crocs just reported a record $1 billion of revenue for the second quarter and is valued at ~$6.7 billion), Birks are back.

  • Birkenstock’s revenue jumped about 29% to $1.3 billion last year.
  • Celebs like Kendall Jenner are rocking Birks this summer, and the sandal even made it in a couple of scenes of the new Barbie movie, which Bloomberg reports helped boost recent sales.

It’s by design: Two years ago, Birkenstock was acquired in a deal that valued the company at roughly $4.9 billion by L. Catterton, the private equity firm backed by LVMH, the luxury conglomerate that keeps Bernard Arnault constantly trading spots with Elon Musk on the list of richest people in the world. Since the acquisition, the brand has collabed with high-end designers like Dior and Manolo Blahnik.

Looking ahead…sources told Bloomberg that the timing and size of the IPO haven’t been nailed down yet, but the potential plans are another sign that market debuts are making their own comeback.—MM

        

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

A celebrity saying "they quit"Francis Scialabba

Stat: Who better to deliver the news that you’re quitting your job or want out of your relationship than a celebrity like Flavor Flav or Brian Cox (though those ones may be NSFW)? Some people are so keen to avoid an awkward  “It’s not you, it’s me” conversation that they’re using Cameo to pay famous faces to relay these messages instead: In the past three years, the pay-for-celeb-video service has received close to 5,000 requests that included “divorce” and ~2,000 with “break up,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The service has also been used at least 1,000 times to put in two weeks notice, per the WSJ.

Quote: “Delisting every asset other than bitcoin, which by the way is not what the law says, would have essentially meant the end of the crypto industry in the US.”

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has never been shy about his disagreement with the SEC over whether cryptocurrencies should be viewed as securities (he says no). And in a recent interview with the Financial Times, he said the agency made it an easy choice for his company to fight for that view in court since, before suing, the agency demanded that the exchange stop trading in any crypto token besides bitcoin. The agency’s case against Coinbase is one of several it has pending that ask courts to weigh in on that existential question for crypto in the US.

Read: How an academic tome about trauma became a bestseller. (New York Magazine)

NEWS

What else is brewing

  • The US Women’s National Team drew Portugal 0–0, meaning they’ll advance to the knockout round at the World Cup. But it was nervy.
  • Sad news: Angus Cloud, the 25-year-old actor who played Fez on Euphoria, has died. And Paul Reubens, the actor best known for creating the character Pee-wee Herman, also died, at age 70, after battling cancer.
  • Taco Bell was hit with a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming the chain advertised its Mexican Pizzas and Crunchwraps as having more than double the fillings they actually do.
  • A zoo in China has denied claims that its bears are really people in bear suits after videos surfaced of the bears standing on two legs.

 

 

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By MC

Master of Truth. A writer who has captured the imagination of many.

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