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Bridge Catastrophe In Baltimore

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Wednesday. Downing a liter of lemon juice in under 14 seconds seems like a rough way to get into the Guinness Book of World Records, but that is what a man in Idaho did. Congratulations, we guess? Have a great day.

In Today’s Brief

  • TikTok: Now under FTC investigation

  • Pakistan: Chinese engineers killed

  • NBC: McDaniel out after uproar

  • Canada Goose: Global workforce cuts

  • NFL: Drastic new kickoff rules

... and more

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Top Tips

1) 'Unspeakable tragedy'

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early yesterday morning after an out-of-control cargo ship crashed into one of its pillars.

  • What happened: The MV Dali, a Singapore-registered vessel chartered by Danish shipping company Maersk, experienced complete electrical failure and veered off course around 1:30 AM ET. The crew made an emergency call that allowed authorities to halt traffic before the ship crashed, taking down the steel bridge.

  • The aftermath: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott called the incident "an unspeakable tragedy." Two people were rescued after impact; one was not injured and one was said to be in "very serious condition." The Coast Guard ended a search-and-rescue operation for six other missing people last night, presuming them dead.

  • Next steps: The NTSB will investigate the incident and is expected to board the ship today. A pilots association said the captain of the ship did everything he could to slow the ship and avoid the bridge. President Joe Biden vowed federal funds to rebuild the bridge.

  • Big picture: The bridge is a critical part of regional transportation, with over 30K cars using it daily. The Port of Baltimore is also one of the busiest in the country, especially for foreign cargo. Ships will be diverted to other East Coast ports, but an extended closure of the waterways around the bridge could cause significant commerce and supply chain issues.

2) Credit karma

U.S. merchants scored a big win over Mastercard and Visa to settle a class-action antitrust lawsuit after almost 20 years.

  • What happened: The credit card giants have agreed to cap processing fees. The concession will save money for small businesses and allow greater flexibility in pricing goods purchased with credit cards. The litigation began in 2005.

  • The numbers: Merchants are charged between 1.5% and 3% per credit card transaction on average. The settlement will reduce those rates for three years and save businesses at least $30B over the next five, according to projections.

  • Big picture: Businesses will enjoy relief, but their savings should be passed down to consumers. The changes should permit increased ability to use credit cards at small businesses and could lead to lower prices.

3) Veep in

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has selected a running mate.

  • The pick: Kennedy tabbed Nicole Shanahan, an attorney and tech entrepreneur who shares his controversial views on vaccinations. Shanahan, the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, has already donated millions to Kennedy's campaign and a super PAC supporting him.

  • Go deeper: Shanahan, 38, has previously donated to Democratic politicians and has a long track record as a philanthropist. Her divorce from Brin drew significant media attention; she initially sought a $1B settlement and denied allegations she had an affair with Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Shanahan emerged as Kennedy's likely vice presidential pick after public flirtations with New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

  • Big picture: Kennedy is polling in double digits in both swing state and national polls; ballot access and qualification for presidential debates are two areas where Shanahan's wealth could play a role if they opt to continue an independent run. Biden allies, including many of Kennedy's family members, fear he could swing the election to former President Donald Trump. But early polls do not show a clear trend of Kennedy taking voters from the president.

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Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • The FTC is investigating TikTok's data and security practices. The House has passed legislation banning the social media app if its Chinese parent company does not divest, citing national security threats (More)

  • The Supreme Court seems unlikely to restrict access to drugs used to perform medication abortions. The justices questioned whether the plaintiff, a Christian-based medical organization, has legal standing while hearing oral arguments (More)

  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will avoid trial in a felony securities fraud case. Paxton will not have to enter a plea if he pays about $270K in restitution and performs community service; he faced decades in prison if convicted (More)

World News

  • Five Chinese engineers and their local driver were killed in Pakistan after a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into their convoy. The men were working on a dam project; it was the third terrorist attack on Chinese interests in the country in the last week (More)

  • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange won a reprieve from extradition to the U.S. on espionage charges. The UK High Court said the Department of Justice must make assurances about his treatment, including that he will not face the death penalty (More)

  • Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga appears to implement allies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a corruption scandal on an audio tape. The tape was released by Varga's ex-husband, a former official in Orban's political party (More)

Campaign News

  • NBC has cut ties with former RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. Her hiring as a paid political analyst sparked an internal revolt among the network's top on-air talent (More)

  • A GOP operative dropped a sexual assault and defamation lawsuit against CPAC leader Matt Schlapp. The man said his claims were the result of a "misunderstanding" and he was not paid by Schlapp or the ACU (More)

  • Texas Rep. Troy Nehls is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. The Republican will cooperate with the probe, which he said is tied to campaign finance rules (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed down yesterday. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 both had a third straight losing day (Dow -0.08%, Nasdaq -0.42%, S&P 500 -0.28%).

  • Canada Goose is laying off almost 20% of its international workforce. The luxury parka maker's sales were down due to an unseasonably warm winter; the cuts are to improve efficiency and position the company to scale (More)

  • Former President Trump's social media company finished its first day on the Nasdaq up 16%. Trump's share in the company was worth $5B at one point during trading (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • The NFL approved drastic new kickoff rules at its annual owners meeting. The changes are designed to create more kick returns while addressing player safety concerns (More

  • Will and Jada Pinkett Smith will shut down their charitable organization. Tax records indicate donations and gifts plummeted after Will Smith assaulted Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards (More)

  • Bruce Springsteen will be the first international songwriter to be named an Ivors Academy fellow. The honor is bestowed by a London-based professional association (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Dynamic Duo: Krispy Kreme donuts will be served in all McDonald's locations nationwide by the end of 2026. The rollout will begin this year after a successful pilot program in Kentucky.

  • Be Safe: A man died recently after a mountain lion attack in California. Here's what you should do if you ever encounter the animal in the wild.

  • Take Note: No one should consider online reviews to be gospel. Experts say a significant number are fake and written by people paid to post them, no matter what product or service they apply to.

  • Kitchen Hack: Resist the urge to decant your food items, or place them into specific containers. It is not always good for the environment and the benefits are far more aesthetic than organizational.

  • Life Hack: Your mind is not tricking you; it is normal to feel bloated or gassy while flying. Here are some tips to get more comfortable up in the air.

  • OPTIMIZE ME: Researchers “found convincing evidence that higher intake of ultra-processed foods was associated with 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48% to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes”

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What really killed the dinosaurs? This video tackles the subject.

Looking Ahead …

Ukraine's men's national soccer team qualified for this summer's European Championship with a 2-1 victory over Iceland in a qualifier final. Georgia and Poland also won playoff spots; the 24-team tournament begins in June.

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