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Happy Thursday!


Hurricane Idalia pummels Florida, Southeast

Cars in flooded streets from Hurricane Idalia

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm yesterday before weakening and blowing into Georgia and the Carolinas.

The storm was the strongest to hit the sparsely populated area southeast of Tallahassee in 125 years, fueled rapidly by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With record-breaking storm surge and maximum sustained winds close to 125 mph, Idalia flooded many areas and downed power lines, knocking out electricity for more than 400,000 people across Florida and Georgia.

The storm has been deemed responsible for two traffic deaths in Florida, and search-and-recovery teams have been sent to the area, though many people evacuated before the worst of the hurricane. It also felled a 100-year-old oak tree outside the Florida governor’s mansion despite sparing the state capital the worst of its wrath.

President Biden called the governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to assure them that the federal government would aid in their states’ recovery.

The damage may be extensive and expensive

Before the storm struck Florida, insurance broker BMS predicted that any major hurricane hitting the state and moving into the Southeast would constitute a multibillion-dollar insurance industry event.

Last year, Hurricane Ian, a deadly storm, caused nearly $100 billion worth of damage in the area. And with climate change making dangerous and expensive extreme weather events more common, property insurance companies have begun to rethink their relationship with Florida (as well as other high-risk states like California).

  • Farmers Insurance stopped issuing new home, auto, and umbrella policies in the state in July.
  • Bankers Insurance and AIG subsidiary Lexington Insurance have also retreated from offering new policies in Florida, while AAA said it would not renew some policies in risky areas.

Looking ahead…the lack of available insurance and the high cost of insuring property in the state may mean some homeowners go without coverage, which can make rebuilding from a storm financially devastating.—AR


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Tour de headlines

Marijuana farm


🪴 Health officials urge reclassification of marijuana as a lower-risk drug. Leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services urged the Drug Enforcement Administration to ease restrictions on marijuana in a letter viewed by Bloomberg. Weed is currently considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, putting it in the same category as LSD and heroin, but the letter said it should be changed to a Schedule III substance, like pain medications and testosterone. This would not legalize the drug, as many states have done, but it would bring down some of the barriers the cannabis industry is facing, such as being barred from banks, so stocks in the industry rose on the news.

 Mitch McConnell freezes again. During a press conference yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, abruptly stopped speaking and appeared unable to respond to reporters’ questions for about 30 seconds. It’s the second similar episode within a month for the 81-year-old politician. The incidents have raised questions about his health and ability to lead his party through his current term, which ends in 2027. But concerns about American leaders’ age and stamina are a bipartisan issue: A recent poll from the Associated Press found that 77% of US adults think President Biden, age 80, is too old for a second term.

 The Biden administration wants overtime for 3.6 million more workers. The Department of Labor proposed a rule yesterday that would require employers to pay overtime premiums to salaried employees who make less than $1,059 per week, or ~$55,000 per year if they work more than 40 hours a week—a big jump from the current rule set by the Trump administration, which tops out at a $35,600 salary per year. Before finalizing the rule, the DOL will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days. But even once a final rule is issued, it could face legal challenges. During President Obama’s term, a federal judge ruled the department did not have the authority to raise the cutoff to $47,500.


Drugstores will start selling OTC Narcan next week

Narcan nasal spray box

Irfan Khan/Getty Images

For the first time, people across the US will be able to purchase an overdose-reversal drug that’s as easy to administer as Flonase, without a prescription.

Next week, nationwide chains like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid will begin selling two-dose boxes of Narcan, a naloxone nasal spray that saves people from opioid overdose, in stores and online.

Making naloxone widely accessible has long been a goal for public health experts because Fentanyl-laced drugs can kill people before paramedics arrive, but some now worry that over-the-counter Narcan’s $45 retail price could be too high for those who need it most.

That’s where insurance (kind of) comes in:

  • Medicaid and Medicare already cover prescription naloxone, and so far, Missouri, California, Massachusetts, Washington, Rhode Island, and Oregon Medicaid programs said they’ll cover OTC Narcan, too.
  • While private health plans often restrict OTC drug coverage, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts said it’ll fully cover nonprescription Narcan.

But this won’t help the one-fifth of people with opioid use disorder who are uninsured. Some government and harm reduction programs give out Narcan for free—and those groups can now order two-dose boxes in bulk at a discounted $41 per box, according to manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions.

Other options include…a prescription-only naloxone generic by Teva Pharmaceuticals, which is widely available for less than $10 out of pocket. And another OTC version, RiVive, will head to stores early next year and is expected to cost less than Narcan.—ML



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Amazon and Google call a smart speaker truce

A speaker with two speech bubbles that say “Can I help you?”

Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: JBL

Tired of yelling at Alexa when you mean to yell at Google? Big Tech has found a solution.

This week, audio company Harman announced its new line of JBL Authentics: first-of-their-kind smart speakers that will simultaneously deploy both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

How it works: The speakers, in addition to looking sick on your credenza, are unlike other assistant-agnostic speakers. You don’t have to manually switch between Alexa and Google or pick one during setup. Asked Google to play a song? You can tell Alexa to pause it.

Historically, Amazon and Google have not been interested in functioning seamlessly together. But this move toward interoperability comes as the Big Tech competitors face a flagging market for smart home devices and fierce competition for both assistants from rapidly advancing AI systems.

There’s a lot to overcome: Smart speaker shipments saw their sixth consecutive quarterly drop in the first quarter of this year, plunging by 30%, according to research firm Canalys. Amazon’s Alexa division was reportedly on track to lose $10 billion last year and was targeted in the company’s layoffs. Google has similarly struggled to generate buzz or significant revenue from its Assistant.—CC


Key performance indicators

The crowd at Nebraska Volley Ball Day

University of Nebraska Athletic Department via Twitter

Stat: Last night, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers (and their fans) scored a unique kind of victory, setting a new global record for attendance at a women’s sports event. The Huskers packed 92,003 people into the school’s football stadium to watch its women’s team play volleyball, surpassing the world record of 91,648 fans set at a Champions League game in Barcelona in 2022. Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium only holds 85,000 spectators for football (which still regularly transforms it into the state’s third-largest city), but seating was available on the field for this event to help break the record.

Quote: “Court 17 definitely smells like Snoop Dogg’s living room.”

The smells of determination and victory aren’t the only ones hovering over the US Open this year—players have complained that one court also reeks of marijuana. The United States Tennis Association investigated the source of the stench and concluded that no one was lighting up in the stands. That means the most likely explanation for the house-partylike odor is that it’s wafting over from people smoking pot in a nearby park, which is permitted under New York law.

Read: Why the internet didn’t shred the paper business. (Slate)


What else is brewing

  • CNN is getting a new CEO. Warner Bros. Discovery tapped Mark Thompson, a former leader of the New York Times and the BBC, for the role.
  • Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who later served as an attorney for former President Trump, has been found liable in a defamation suit brought by two election workers because he failed to turn over information to the workers, who claim they were falsely accused of fraud.
  • Regulators want information from Tesla on: 1) “Elon mode,” which allegedly lets cars run on Autopilot without prompts for the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and 2) company cash spent on a project described internally as a house for Elon Musk.
  • Ana de Armas fans weren’t conned into watching the movie Yesterday because she was featured in the trailer, a judge ruled. The judge said that viewing the film was a self-inflicted injury and dismissed their lawsuit.
  • Suits, everyone’s current binge-watch, was altered during filming at the request of the British royal family, who were wary of Meghan Markle’s role on the show. Its creator revealed that in one instance, writers removed the word “poppycock” from one of Markle’s lines.


To do list Thursday

 Watch: An examination of the tiny life inside rain puddles.

 Compare: College athletic program budgets with this interactive database.

 Listen: Late-night hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver teamed up and made a podcast to support their striking staff.

 Book recs: A list of reads that CEOs and editors say will help you understand today’s world.


 This painting sold for $8m: …and everyday investors profited. And it’s all thanks to Masterworks, the platform for investing in blue-chip art. Over 800k people have signed up, but Morning Brew readers can skip the waitlist.*



The puzzle section

Brew Mini: Your sample clue for today is “Joe, Nick, or Kevin of pop music.” Think you know who those guys are? Solve the Mini here.

Three headlines and a lie

Three of these headlines from the week’s news are real, and one is faker than any conflict on a reality show.

Can you spot the odd one out?

  1. I got gobbled up by a whale. It was amazing.
  2. ‘Oh my god’: Live worm found in Australian woman’s brain in world-first discovery
  3. NYC tourists seeking authentic experience take late-night rat tours
  4. Adam Sandler will let you punch him to raise money for Bob Barker’s animal rights organization


Adam Sandler is not holding a fundraiser. But you can imagine what it’d be like if he did, right?

Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the Day is: poppycock, because the royal family doesn’t care what words we use. It means nonsense, and it was submitted by several commoners, including Katie from Duluth, MN, and Linda Zell from Sarasota, FL

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