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Finally Friday

Good morning. Somehow, today is the last day of the first half of 2023. And if you’re up for a bit of personal reflection, it might be a good time to revisit your New Year’s resolutions to see how you’re measuring up. Here’s our progress report for inspiration:

  • Read five books (, can recommend Dark Matter)
  • Stop eating candy ()
  • Stop replying to people’s Facebook stories when tipsy ()
  • Steal the hands off clocks from every house you visit ()
  • Gaslight your friends when they ask if you stole their clock hands ()

Let us know how your resolutions are going!

SCOTUS strikes down affirmative action

UNC Chapel Hill campus

Eros Hoagland/Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that colleges cannot consider race in the admissions process, a decision that overturns 40 years of precedent and is expected to have far-reaching consequences for diversity initiatives on campuses and in corporate boardrooms.

In a 6–3 ruling along ideological lines, the majority-conservative court sided with Students for Fair Admissions, the group that filed lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina that claimed that the institutions discriminated against white and Asian American students by giving Black, Hispanic, and Native American applicants a boost in admissions considerations.

Following the opinion, which is part of a wave of recent SCOTUS decisions President Biden called “out of sorts with the basic value system of the American people,” Biden urged schools to continue to promote racial diversity. But college admissions officials say that attempts to increase diversity in other ways, like using socioeconomic status as a proxy for race or expanding recruiting efforts geographically, almost always fall short.

Corporate diversity could take a hit, too

Legal experts warn that the Supreme Court’s rollback of affirmative action opens the door for challenges to race-conscious diversity programming in the workplace, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, as well as diversity quotas companies have in place for hiring and promotions.

  • Experts are recommending that companies swap out their use of the word “diversity” for phrasing like “Title VII compliance” or the title “chief diversity officer” for “chief transformation officer” to avoid potential litigation.
  • Business leaders and labor lawyers say companies should count on spending time—and money—to prepare for increased legal action launched by critics of diversity policies.

Corporate America might also need to build new pipelines for diverse talent. Last year, nearly 80 US firms including Apple, Meta, and Google filed a brief in support of affirmative action as the policy headed to court, saying that they “depend on university admissions programs that lead to graduates educated in racially and ethnically diverse environments.”

Looking ahead…pencil in another top story about the Supreme Court tomorrow. SCOTUS’s ruling on President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is expected this morning before they, like the entire workforce in Western Europe, break for summer.—CC


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Tour de headlines

Agin Galactic spaceship circling the globeFrancis Scialabba

 Virgin Galactic launched its first commercial flight. It took nearly 20 years, but Richard Branson’s space tourism company finally sent its first paying customers to the edge of space yesterday. The passengers were three Italians who flew up to a peak altitude of 279,000 feet to enjoy the view and conduct scientific experiments. After losing $500 million last year, Virgin Galactic hopes to start generating meaningful revenue by charging space tourists up to $450,000 a seat for a joyride in its Unity spacecraft.

 ​​Unrest spreads in France. As protests erupted for a third night over the fatal police shooting of a teenager, France ramped up its police presence from 9,000 to 40,000 across the country to quell violent protesters who have set fire to public buildings and injured hundreds of members of law enforcement. Meanwhile, the police officer who killed the teenager known as Nahel M. was arrested on charges of voluntary homicide. French President Emmanuel Macron said the shooting was “inexcusable” but also called the rioting “totally unjustifiable.”

 Three charged with insider trading related to Trump’s SPAC deal. The DOJ arrested three Florida investors, alleging they made more than $22 million in illegal profits through trading stock in the SPAC that took former President Trump’s social media company public. The men are accused of trading shares in Digital World Acquisition Corp. based on nonpublic knowledge and making bank in October 2021 when news it planned to acquire Truth Social made its stock soar. Neither the former president nor his family members are implicated.


Aspartame to be named a possible cancer-causer

Aspartame, one of the most popular artificial sweeteners, is found most diet sodas and many other products.

Francis Scialabba

Your friend who proudly drinks regular Coke might be insufferable today: Aspartame is set to be labeled as “possibly carcinogenic” next month when the World Health Organization releases two reviews of the popular artificial sweetener, according to Reuters.

The report on aspartame—found not only in most diet sodas but also in teas, chewing gums, yogurts, and Mrs. Butterworth’s sugar-free syrup—is expected on July 14 from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), alongside a second WHO committee’s new recommendation on dosing, which hasn’t yet been revealed. Until now, it had been widely accepted that someone would have to drink between 12 and 36 cans of diet soda to be at risk.

But, many items on the WHO’s “possibly carcinogenic” list are still common in daily life: mobile phones, carpentry, and putting baby powder on your nether regions, to name a few.

The IARC has been criticized in the past for stirring up confusion when releasing new classifications…like when it added processed meats to the carcinogenic category—the worst one—which inspired a bunch of cold-cuts-is-the-new-smoking headlines.

Big Cola is big mad: Groups representing products containing aspartame are already calling the classification misleading and panicking over how this might sway consumers to change their habits…or potentially sue companies. But Diet Pepsi is sitting pretty because it ditched aspartame in 2020.—ML

Enhanced Games says let them run on ’roids

Athlete holding Enhanced Games flag

Enhanced Games

Taking an idea that has emerged from many stoner basements, one Australian entrepreneur wants to remake the Olympics, but with drugs. Aron D’Souza has announced the Enhanced Games, a drug-test-free sporting event that aims to reward a new, ’roided up class of athletes—like this anonymous sprinter who claims to have beaten Usain Bolt’s 100m record.

Is this a joke? Nope. D’Souza, the president and founder of Enhanced Games as well as the legal mind behind Peter Thiel’s takedown of media company Gawker, has been hyping up his plans to host the first event in 2024 (no word on location). He also told the Guardian he has two famous athletes on board (no word on which ones) and a bunch of Silicon Valley investors interested (again, no specifics). D’Souza’s event will include five categories: track and field, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics, and combat sports.

Enhanced Games says it’s fighting a battle for the soul of sports. The event’s website accuses traditional athletic competitions like the Olympics of being “anti-science” and shaming “enhanced athletes.”

But traditional sports are pushing back. Representatives from the Olympics have spoken out against D’Souza for promoting unhealthy practices. Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said Monday that the Enhanced Games are “both dangerous and irresponsible.”—MM


Key performance indicators

Now Leaving Portland sign

Francis Scialabba

Stat: Even a scoop of Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons from Salt & Straw isn’t keeping people from leaving Portland, OR. The city, which is struggling with crime and homelessness issues, lost 3% of its population between 2020 and 2022…after booming 23% between 2000 and 2020, according to US Census data reviewed by the WSJ. So, where is the population growing now? The Southeast. In the past two years, 2.2 million people have moved to the sun-soaked region, which has accounted for more than 66% of total job growth nationwide since early 2020, per Bloomberg.

Quote: “For months now, I have been scared to leave my house. I have been ridiculed in public. I have been followed, and I have felt a loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

In a TikTok video, trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney accused Bud Light of abandoning her while she faced rampant harassment over her sponsored Instagram post for the beer brand. “For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans person at all,” Mulvaney said. Due to a boycott over its Mulvaney partnership, Bud Light was overtaken by Modelo as the best-selling beer in the US.

What else is brewing

  • The NFL suspended three players indefinitely—and a fourth for six games—for violating the league’s gambling policy.
  • Burlington Stores (not Spirit Halloween, sadly) will take over more than 50 locations vacated by bankrupt Bed Bath & Beyond. Meanwhile,, the company that bought Bed Bath & Beyond’s name and digital assets, will rebrand as…Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • Rapper Travis Scott won’t face criminal charges for his role in a crowd surge that killed 10 people at the Astroworld festival in 2021.
  • A minuscule handbag that’s less than 0.03 inches wide sold for more than $63,000 at auction.


Friday to-do list

 Fourth of July reading recs: The 40 greatest tech books of all time.

 Fourth of July streaming recs: The 10 best TV shows and the 10 best movies of the year (so far).

 Visual thread: Are the Gothic cathedrals of Europe humanity’s greatest architectural legacy?

 “We Didn’t Start the Fire” gets an update: Fall Out Boy picked up where Billy Joel left off in 1989.


 Intensify intimacy: Presenting MysteryVibe’s Crescendo 2, a doctor-recommended, FDA-registered vibrator. Clinically proven to improve arousal and alleviate dryness, it bends to your needs and even wins awards. Here’s 25% off—you’re welcome.*


 Size isn’t everything: The internal combustion engine is big, heavy, and inefficient. LiquidPiston is reinventing the engine to make it smaller but just as strong. Read about their advancements + how you can invest.


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