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Happy Wednesday!

Good morning. Happy 65th birthday to Madonna, who, after a health scare in June sent her to the ICU for several days, has rescheduled her Celebration Tour to kick off in October.

If you’re wondering what’s the best way to break the news to your boss that you’re taking a week off to go full material girl, check out tips for Difficult Conversations at Work. You’ll learn how to ask for a raise, interview effectively, and let your manager know your pop princess priorities.

It’s a major confidence booster for all those awkward convos you can’t avoid.


The Inflation Reduction Act turns 1

Biden signing IRA

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden’s historic clean energy push graduated from infancy into toddlerhood today: It’s been exactly a year since the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) became law.

Unlike what its inflation-taming name might suggest, the IRA is primarily about pouring an unprecedented amount of federal cash into speeding up clean tech adoption. The landmark legislation unlocks $394 billion of government funding and $367 billion in loans for environmental projects, including…

  • Subsidies for companies that produce EV batteries, solar and wind energy equipment, as well as energy storage technology.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax rebates for drivers willing to ditch their gas guzzler for an EV.
  • Benefits for homeowners who boost the energy efficiency of their homes, and for businesses and nonprofits that do the same with their spaces.

Other measures aim to offset a government budget shortfall by lowering the prices Medicare pays for prescription drugs and tightening corporate tax rules.

The winners and losers

The Biden administration touts the IRA as a win for the environment, American workers, and companies building clean tech in the US.

  • The legislation already spurred major renewable energy manufacturers to invest $271 billion into projects nationwide and has created 29,780 jobs over the past year, according to the American Clean Power Association.
  • The US is also becoming an EV battery-making hub as carmakers have announced plans to open new factories in Michigan, South Carolina, and New York.

But, as with any sweeping policy, someone will get the short end of the stick. “Made-in-America” sourcing requirements for some products to qualify for IRA incentives have made EU governments worried that clean tech produced in Europe is now less attractive to American buyers.

Meanwhile, a union representing 400,000 auto workers has complained that EV companies seeking to benefit from IRA funding can get away with providing less-than-desirable jobs for its members.

Looking ahead…while the IRA has already catalyzed a lot of clean tech action, whether the law truly ushers in a renewables revolution will only be clear once there are more candles on its birthday cake.


Tour de headlines

Volunteers load water onto a boat to be transported to West Maui from the Kihei boat landing

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 Maui latest: President Biden said he’d visit Hawaii “as soon as he can” to survey the devastation of last week’s wildfires in Maui that killed more than 100 people, a number that is expected to grow in the coming days. As for the cause of the fire, which has been subject to numerous conspiracy theories on social media, researchers are zeroing in on a malfunction in Hawaiian Electric’s power grid. Video and corresponding data show that the utility’s power lines sparked a separate fire on East Maui last week. Hawaiian Electric’s stock plunged again yesterday after its credit rating was downgraded to junk by S&P Global.

 China says, “What youth unemployment crisis?” The country’s National Bureau of Statistics said it will stop publishing unemployment data on specific age groups in an apparent attempt to mask its alarming youth jobless rate, which surged to a record 21.3% in June. China is known to obscure economic data that it can’t brag about, but there’s very little good news to show off these days: Its economy is having a worse year than MLS defenses against Messi. Widespread real estate problems, flagging investment, and a potential descent into deflation spurred President Biden to call China’s economy a “ticking time bomb.”

 The Matildas try to make history against England. Australia and England will write another chapter in their storied sports rivalry when they compete in the Women’s World Cup semifinal at 6am ET. The host Australian team, known as the Matildas, has never reached a Women’s World Cup final, and their emotional run has captivated Australia—their quarterfinal victory against France was the most-watched TV event of the year Down Under. The winner will face Spain, which defeated Sweden in a thrilling semifinal yesterday.


Alcohol deaths among women are soaring

Hand holding pink cocktail with high heel and lipstick stain.

Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: Getty Images

The gender gap between men and women dying from alcohol is getting smaller. Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association last month found that the rate of alcohol-related deaths among US women are growing faster than among men, a pronounced shift that is alarming public health experts.

The analysis, which looked at 20 years of CDC data, found that from 2018 to 2020, alcohol-related mortality rates for women jumped nearly 15% while men’s rose just under 13%. Men are still about 3x more likely to die from alcohol-related deaths.

What’s making women drink more? Targeted marketing campaigns and all of those quippy “wine o’clock” Etsy shirts could play a big role in pushing women who want to appear successful to top off their glasses in the same way tobacco companies latched onto women’s liberation to advertise cigarettes in the ’60s. Professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Katherine Keyes told NBC that middle-aged, high-income, and educated women binge drink most.

Women really can have it all—even cirrhosis and liver disease. Doctors believe that women’s higher body fat percentage, hormonal fluctuations, and other traits make their organs more susceptible to alcohol’s health risks.


A streaming bundle costs more than a cable bundle

Chart of prices for popular streaming platforms from Oct 2022 to Oct 2023

Morning Brew

How much of a price hike would it take for you to give up ad-free access to every episode of Suits?

That’s the question major streaming platforms are pondering as they’ve jacked up subscription prices by 25% on average, per the Wall Street Journal. A basket of streaming services will cost $87 per month this fall, up from $73 a year ago, according to the Financial Times. The average cable package: $83.

Whatever happened to cheap bingeing? Most platforms (except Netflix) have been operating at a loss, pouring tens of billions into creating a bottomless supply of content. But rising interest rates and impatient shareholders have forced streaming services to answer for their debts, ending an era in which those companies were more focused on adding subscribers than making money.

Still, streamers are betting you’d prefer to watch the new House of the Dragon season without being interrupted by Swiffer ads—and they may be right. In March, 94% of Disney+ subscribers opted to absorb a $3-per-month increase rather than switch to an ad-supported plan.

Zoom out: Analysts warn that the combo of higher prices and fewer new shows (if any, due to the Hollywood strike) could lead to subscriber losses, but media companies remain bullish that streaming is the future. July was the first month that cable accounted for less than 50% of all TV watching, while streaming accounted for a record 39%, according to Nielsen.


Key performance indicators

Homeless encampment in Los Angeles

Al Seib/Getty Images

Stat: Homelessness is surging in America. The number of people experiencing homelessness in the US has increased 11% so far this year over 2022, which would be the biggest jump by far in equivalent government records beginning in 2007, according to a WSJ analysis (the next-highest increase was 2.7% in 2019, not including noisy pandemic data). Nonprofits and government agencies say the alarming rise can be attributed to the lack of affordable housing and rental units, and the ongoing opioid crisis.

Quote: “I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties.”

In an interview with CNN, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen revealed that she ate “magic mushrooms” at a restaurant on a recent trip to China. Sadly, instead of hallucinating about 15% GDP growth and the US balancing its budget, she said she and the other people who ate the shrooms did not trip at all. Still, Yellen’s microdosing went viral on social media, generating tons of publicity for the restaurant, a chain called Yi Zuo Yi Wang, or “In and Out” (no relation).

Read: Obituary for a quiet life. (The Bitter Southerner)


What else is brewing

  • The Blind Side’s Tuohy family called Michael Oher’s accusations that they tricked him into a conservatorship to enrich themselves “outlandish” and a “shakedown.” Their lawyer claimed that Oher demanded the family pay him $15 million or he’d go public with his side of the story.
  • The Pacific Northwest is sweltering under a heat wave that could break records.
  • Bazooka Candy Brands, which makes the bubble gum that loses flavor in two minutes, is being sold for $700 million.
  • X appears to be throttling links to rival sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Substack as well as news outlets that owner Elon Musk has publicly criticized, according to the Washington Post.
  • The Fulton County sheriff has insisted that no defendant will be treated differently than any other, so expect former President Trump to have his mugshot taken following his indictment on Monday. As one X user predicted, “This will break Etsy.”


Wednesday to-do list

 Not so stretchy: Go inside the decline of the stretch limo. (YouTube)

 Always sunny in Zuckadelphia: This Always Sunny clip perfectly captures the Musk vs. Zuck circus.

 The most iconic hip-hop samples of each year. Cool visualizations, too!

 For the geography geeks: This is the street network orientation of major cities across the globe.


 Meet Money with Katie: Her free weekly newsletter takes a hot new approach to budgeting, investing, taxes, and more. Subscribe today.


The puzzle section

Word Search: Readers who regularly get takeout lunch will ace today’s Word Search on fast-casual restaurant logos. Play it here.

Fill in the punchline

It’s National Tell a Joke Day, so for today’s trivia, we’ll give you the setup for a joke and you have to fill in the punchline.

Warning: These are painfully corny.

  1. Did you hear they arrested the devil? Yeah, they got him on _____.
  2. What do you call a bear with no teeth? _____.
  3. I bought the world’s worst thesaurus today. Not only was it terrible, but it was also ____.
  4. Why don’t pirates take a shower before they walk the plank? ____.
  5. Why didn’t Han Solo enjoy his steak dinner? _____.
  6. How much did Santa pay for his sleigh? _____.





1. Possession

2. A gummy bear

3. Terrible

4. Because they just wash up on shore

5. It was Chewie

6. Nothing—it was on the house

Source No. 1 and Source No. 2.

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