Skip to content

Happy Wednesday Morning Brewers

Good morning. If Nick and Vanessa Lachey are free, we have a new Netflix dating show pitch: Chuck Grassley’s office. The 90-year-old Republican senator from Iowa posted on Instagram that his current chief of staff, Jennifer Heins, and former legislative aide Nick Davis got married over the weekend, making them the 20thmarried couple who met while working for him.

In today’s newsletter: Biden’s high-stakes visit to Israel, an antitrust crackdown on broker fees, and questionable carbon credits. Have a good day.














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 9:00am ET. Here’s what these numbers mean.
  • Markets: Stocks were mostly flat Tuesday, but bond yields surged to their highest level in 10 days after the Commerce Department released better-than-expected retail sales data. Elsewhere, shares of Nvidia tumbled after the Biden administration said it will tighten restrictions on chipmakers selling their products to China.


Biden walks fine line in Israel visit

US president Joe Biden

The Washington Post/Getty Images

President Joe Biden is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv today to reiterate US support for Israel, while also attempting to iron out a plan to get humanitarian aid to civilians trapped in Gaza.

The wartime visit comes a day after a massive blast at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds of people, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said. Palestinian health officials blamed an Israeli airstrike, while Israel responded the explosion was a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group. The Israeli military said that images of the hospital parking lot showed no visible signs of craters or significant damage to buildings that would be consistent with an airstrike. Media outlets and Western governments are working to independently find out what was behind the blast.

After meeting with Netanyahu, Biden was supposed to head east to sit down with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas—but after the hospital blast, the summit was canceled. Anti-Israel and anti-US protests erupted across the region.

The purpose of the visit: American officials say Biden’s main objectives are for Israel to implement a humanitarian plan for Gaza before Israel launches a ground invasion, and to de-escalate the potential spread of regional violence:

  • Biden will likely focus on pressuring Netanyahu to allow food, medicine, and water into Gaza, and civilians out, through Gaza’s border with Egypt. Abdullah said yesterday that Jordan and Egypt will not accept Palestinian refugees.
  • Biden also wants his presence to serve as a message to Iran, whose foreign minister warned on Monday that its allies—which include Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and the authoritarian Syrian government—will attack Israel on “multiple fronts” if Israeli strikes on Gaza continue.

If the fighting expands into a larger regional war, the US would likely need to pivot more of its foreign policy attention from Russia and China to the Middle East. The Pentagon has already redirected about a dozen ships to the Mediterranean coast of Gaza and Israel, and instructed an additional 2,000 US troops to stand by for possible deployment.

Looking ahead…in the coming days, Biden is reportedly planning to ask Congress for a mammoth $100 billion funding package that would include support for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.


A story that needs to be told

Paramount Pictures

This year’s must-see blockbuster is bigger than just a film—it’s a reclaiming of history. From Martin Scorsese (yep, Marty’s back), it’s Killers of the Flower Moon, an epic Western crime saga that’s already earning Oscar buzz.

Featuring an all-star cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, and Robert De Niro, the film tells a harrowing true story of greed, betrayal, racial injustice, and murder within the Osage Nation of Oklahoma during the 1920s oil boom.

A haunting journey into the heart of one of America’s darkest chapters, Killers of the Flower Moon centers the courage, strength, and resilience of the Osage people to ensure their story is never forgotten.

Go see the movie of the year.


Tour de headlines

Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 Jim Jordan failed to become Speaker on first ballot. The GOP circus to elect a new Speaker of the House will continue for at least one more day, after Ohio congressman Jim Jordan fell 20 votes short of what he needed to assume leadership of the House. Jordan was Republicans’ latest nominee after Majority Leader Steve Scalise withdrew from the race last week. It’s now been two weeks since the House has gone speakerless following Kevin McCarthy’s ouster at the hands of a few representatives in the right-wing Freedom Caucus. Congress can’t pass aid for Israel—or do much of anything—until it picks a speaker. They’ll reconvene today in hopes of finally finding one.

 India’s top court refused to legalize same-sex marriage. The country’s five-member Supreme Court ruled unanimously to decline petitioners’ request to legalize gay marriage, arguing it was up to parliament to make laws recognizing and regulating it. While the landmark ruling marked a setback for India’s large LGBTQ+ community, the court did broaden the definition of discrimination and told the government to establish fundamental protections for gay citizens. The ruling comes five years after the Supreme Court repealed a colonial-era law outlawing same-sex intercourse.

 Xi Jinping welcomed his “dear friend” Vladimir Putin to China. The Russian president arrived in Beijing yesterday to attend the Belt and Road forum, a meeting of global leaders on Xi’s infrastructure initiative to deepen China’s ties with the rest of the world. It’s Putin’s second trip abroad since the International Criminal Court put out a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes related to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which China has declined to criticize. The two are also expected to discuss the Israel-Hamas war as their two countries call for a ceasefire.


DOJ could try to dismantle real estate broker commissions

Magnifying glass looking at house on stacks of cash.

Francis Scialabba

Selling Sunset stars will have to discuss antitrust policy at the all-hands. The Justice Department is reportedly considering legal intervention against the lucrative US real estate commission-sharing system, Bloomberg reported.

Some background for renters: When you sell your house, you’re likely paying 5%–6% of the sale in broker fees, split between your agent and the buyer’s agent. With housing costs popping off, this fee can balloon to roughly $30,000 for a $500,000 house. The National Association of Realtors (NAR), the industry’s lobbying group, requires you to agree to the fee if you list your house on virtually any listing service.

  • Representing 1.5+ million agents, NAR is the largest trade group in the country, and even trademarked the word “Realtor” so only its paying members can slap it on their LinkedIn bio.
  • The NAR says objections to the current system are a bunch of foofaraw. The group argues it benefits buyers, making it easier for first-timers in minority and lower-income groups to purchase a house.

The real estate reckoning. One of two class-action suits against NAR and four large brokerages settled yesterday, requiring RE/MAX and Anywhere Real Estate to pay a combined $138.5 million. But only the DOJ can make sweeping changes. Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman told Bloomberg that if the DOJ were to dismantle the current commission structure, “Half the real estate agents in this country would be unemployed.”


The dubious impact of carbon credit pioneer South Pole

Carbon credits

Francis Scialabba

Experts have long argued that the $2 billion voluntary carbon credit market meant to help corporations fight global warming is (largely) hot air. And a New Yorker feature published this week chronicling how the trailblazing Swiss climate finance unicorn South Pole sold millions of dollars in questionable carbon credits probably won’t win the practice any new fans.

South Pole sold credits to corporate giants like JetBlue, Volkswagen, and Nestlé. But it largely relied on a forest preservation project near Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe that—aside from making lots of green for South Pole and its founder, Renat Heuberger—didn’t have nearly the green impact promised.

According to the New Yorker, South Pole sent the cash to the owner of the Kariba forest, a Zimbabwean tycoon who invested at least some of it into local farming projects and schools, but…

  • He couldn’t provide reliable accounting of how the money was spent, admitting the shadiness of his international transfer methods.
  • In 2022, South Pole calculated that it vastly overestimated the number of trees saved when it used a formula supplied by the controversial certification agency Verra, meaning ~64% of the carbon credits the project generated over 10 years didn’t really offset pollution.

Zoom out: Critics who say murky forest-based carbon credits enable corporate greenwashing worry that the UN is considering adopting similar practices to help countries reach their climate goals.—SK


Key performance indicators

Pepper X illustration

Francis Scialabba

Stat: Ed Currie, the High Prince of the Hot Pepper, is back with another Guinness world record-breaking pepper that’s much hotter than his Carolina Reaper. Pepper X wields an average of 2.69 million Scoville heat units. For reference, bear spray is 2.2 million units, the Reaper has 1.64 million, and a regular jalapeno packs a mere 5,000. When Currie first tried his creation, he said he had to lie down for an hour, “groaning in pain.” And that’s the guy who likes this stuff. Currie said it took 10 years of testing the new pepper to prove to Guinness that it’s a different plant from the Reaper. Currie will share the results with medical researchers, who might be able to learn something from the plant’s ability to release dopamine and endorphins into the body.

Quote: “Affordable.”

That’s how Apple is describing its new Apple Pencil, which costs $79. Unlike previous versions, it comes with a hidden USB-C port, though it’s missing some of the advanced features of the $129 second-gen model, like pressure sensitivity and wireless charging. But if you just want to digitally scribble on your iPad without all those frills, this looks like the best option. It pairs especially nicely with Apple’s $19 polishing cloth.

Read: Americans are about to see way more driverless cars. (The Atlantic)


What else is brewing

  • X will start charging $1 a year to new users in New Zealand and the Philippines as part of its “Not A Bot” program intended to reduce spam and bot activity.
  • The IRS announced it’ll launch a free tax filing service in 13 states next year, so your TurboTax days could soon be over.
  • StubHub said ticket sales for the upcoming NBA season are up 60% from last year, thanks to increased interest from fans outside the US.
  • Poland’s right-wing governing party looks likely to be ousted following the country’s general election, which is being described as a victory for liberal values.
  • Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has reportedly decided to stop DJing because it was creating a distraction for the Wall Street firm. “This is not news,” a Goldman spokesman told FT.


Wednesday to-do list

 Watch: The French heist series Lupin, starring the profoundly charismatic Omar Sy, is currently topping the Netflix charts in dozens of countries.

 Drink: Sips in Barcelona leads Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the best bars in the world.

 Fall in love: With this amazingly exhaustive analysis of more than 1,400 romance novel covers.

 Inside scoop: If you’ve ever wanted a ranking of 100 spoons, you’re in luck, because NBC News ranked 100 spoons based on size, design, feel, and finish.

 Read: Buy your copy of Shane Parrish’s new book, Clear Thinking, in which you can learn how to optimize your decision-making and live a more intentional life.+

 It’s baaaack: Fresh Investaka our award-winning investing podcast sponsored by Fidelity, is returning to headphones everywhere. First up is an episode about navigating market volatility and inflation. Tune in.*

*A message from our sponsor. +This content is from an editorial partner.


The puzzle section

Word Search: Social media app logos clog your phone’s home screen. Now, they’re the topic of today’s Word Search. Play it here.

Halloween candy trivia

Instacart has been tracking the top-selling candy brands in the month leading up to Halloween, and each year the same three candies top the list. Can you name them?


Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, peanut M&M’s, and regular M&M’s.

Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the Day is: foofaraw, meaning “a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant.” Thanks to Corey from New Jersey and many others for the unfussy suggestion.

Leave a Comment