10.20.2021

Ransom Demands, Netflix Walkout, and the Balloon World Cup Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Oct. 20, and the Haitian gang responsible for kidnapping a group of missionaries sets its ransom demands, Netflix employees schedule a walkout protesting a Dave Chappelle special, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Ransom Demands

A Haitian gang that kidnapped 17 members of a missionary group Saturday is demanding $1M per person to release the group. Members of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries were returning from an orphanage en route to the airport when they were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang near Port-au-Prince. The demands were reportedly made directly to a ministry leader. 

 

Security in Haiti has dramatically declined in recent years, exacerbated by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August. Gangs have rapidly expanded their influence amid the crisis, with the surge of abductions and violence prompting a strike that has shut down businesses, schools, and public transportation, hurting the already poverty-stricken economy.

 

More than 600 kidnappings have been reported in the country in the first nine months of 2021, compared to 231 over the same period in 2020.

Netflix Walkout

Hundreds of Netflix employees are expected to stage a walkout today, protesting a recently released special from comedian Dave Chappelle which they say contains transphobic material. The show, "The Closer," was Chappelle's sixth and final installment stemming from a 2016 deal with the streaming giant. 

 

Backlash for the special centered on remarks that included support for Harry Potter author JK Rowling (see background) and arguing gender is set at birth, among other comments. Chappelle weaved the routine around the story of a transgender friend, Daphne Dorman, who committed suicide in 2019.   

 

A number of Netflix's stars have publicly supported the walkout. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos has backed the decision to air the special, and Dorman's family has strongly pushed back on the criticism of Chappelle. Ahead of the walkout, organizers presented a list of demands to the company—removal of "The Closer" was not included.

 

Separately, Netflix reported net subscriber growth of 4.4 million last quarter, beating expectations by almost 600,000. See how Netflix plans to shift how it measures user engagement here.

Steve Bannon

A House select committee probing the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol voted yesterday to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt. The one-time adviser to former President Donald Trump declined to comply with a subpoena issued by the Democratic-led panel.

 

Bannon has argued he is following Trump's assertion of executive privilege, which allows presidents to withhold certain executive branch information. While the privilege generally remains for ex-presidents once out of office, legal experts say it is unlikely to extend to Bannon. The full House, in which Democrats hold a slim majority, must now vote to certify the charge, and the Justice Department must decide to prosecute the case. Bannon could face fines and up to one year in prison if ultimately convicted. 

 

The vote comes one day after Trump filed suit to block the National Archives from transferring White House documents to the committee. 

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> NBA returns with last season's champion Milwaukee Bucks topping the Brooklyn Nets on opening night (More) | See full 2021-22 regular season preview for all 30 teams (More)

 

> Leslie Bricusse, Oscar- and Grammy-winning songwriter known for "Willy Wonka" and "Goldfinger," dies at 90 (More) | 2022 Grammy Awards to include inclusion rider to ensure diversity in hiring both onstage and offstage talent for the show (More)

 

> Washington State football head coach Nick Rolovich and four assistants fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccine (More

Science & Technology

> Facebook rolls out a pilot test of Novi, a digital wallet product, in the US and Guatemala; users can send and receive money using a digital currency known as Paxos (More) | What are stablecoins? (More)

 

> New research finds tuberculosis can spread via tiny aerosol droplets; an estimated 90% of bacteria are released during breathing, as opposed to coughing as previously believed (More)

 

> Lunar rock samples returned by Chinese probe suggest the moon experienced volcanic activity as recently as 2 billion years ago, despite lacking water and other conditions typical for magma formation (More)

Business & Markets

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> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +0.7%, Dow +0.6%, Nasdaq +0.7%) on strong corporate earnings; S&P 500 sees fifth consecutive day of gains (More)

 

> First Bitcoin-linked exchange-traded fund closes up 5% in first day trading, as Bitcoin rises to approximately 1% under all-time high of $64.8K (More)

 

> Southwest Airlines drops plans to place unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave if employees haven’t received exemption by Dec. 8 federal deadline (More)

From our partners: "Flippin' incredible" is what you'll say when you see Flippy, Miso Robotics' burger flipping robot. The autonomous kitchen assistant uses a cloud-connected interface and AI to help quick-serve restaurants (like White Castle) increase margins by roughly 300%. Learn how Flippy is set to disrupt the $70B quick-serve restaurant industry. Invest today before Miso’s funding round closes Nov. 18.

Politics & World Affairs

> Russia suspends diplomatic relations with NATO, will expel the organization's diplomatic staff by November; relations with individual NATO countries remain (More) | What is NATO? (More)

 

> FBI raids homes of Russian oligarch and oil baron Oleg Deripaska in Washington, DC, and New York; move is reportedly linked to sanctions violations (More)

 

> Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R, NE-1) indicted on charges of lying to the FBI amid a probe into potentially illegal campaign contributions; Fortenberry denies the charges (More)

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ETCETERA

 

In case you missed last week's Balloon World Cup.

 

Modeling the view from the moon's south pole.

 

Washington, DC, is in the midst of a metro-pacalypse

 

The year's best panoramic photos.

 

Artist lights up the interior of St. Peter's Basilica

 

Rage rooms are helping frontline workers relieve stress.

 

"Broken heart" syndrome is on the rise.

 

Maya Angelou to become the first woman featured on a quarter.

 

Clickbait: Colombia's cocaine hippos go on birth control.

 

Historybook: Baseball great Mickey Mantle born (1931); Congress investigates "Reds" in Hollywood (1947); Tom Petty born (1950); HBD Vice President Kamala Harris (1964); RIP President Herbert Hoover (1964); Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi killed (2011).

 

"Do something you really like, and hopefully it pays the rent. As far as I'm concerned, that's success."

- Tom Petty

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