Morality Law Protests, Russia Mobilizes, and the Autumn Equinox Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, Sept. 22, and we're covering protests over morality laws in Iran, a significant escalation in Russia's war in Ukraine, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].


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Protests in Iran

At least three people were killed yesterday in Iran as recent protests over morality laws grew increasingly violent, according to officials. The figure brings the reported total death toll to at least seven during the demonstrations, which began Saturday and have spread across the country.


The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last week while in police custody, having been detained for allegedly violating the country's hijab requirements. Amini had been stopped by a guidance patrol—commonly referred to as morality police—while visiting the capital of Tehran last Tuesday. Initially expected to be released after a few hours, Amini later arrived at a hospital in a coma. Police have claimed she suffered a heart attack and fell. 


Led primarily by women and younger Iranians, observers have called the unrest the biggest challenge to hardline President Ebrahim Raisi's government since assuming office last August. See photos of the crowds here.

(Another) Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve has approved its third consecutive 0.75% increase in interest rates, raising the benchmark federal-funds rate to a range of 3.0%-3.25%, the highest level since 2008 (see history). The central bank has now increased rates five times since the year began in an effort to cool the economy and quell 40-year-high inflation.


Policymakers also released economic forecasts, with plans to raise interest rates to 4.4% by the end of 2022 and up to 4.6% in 2023. Rate cuts aren't expected until 2024. As a result, unemployment is estimated to rise to 4.4% next year from its current 3.7%. Gross domestic product growth is predicted to slow to 0.2% for 2022 before rising to 1.2% in 2023. 


The rate hikes mean higher borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, including for credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans. Costlier borrowing could prompt consumers to hold off on spending, thus bringing down prices (see 101).

Russia Mobilizes

Russian President Vladimir Putin partially mobilized his country's army reserves yesterday for the first time since 1941, signaling a major escalation of Russia's war effort. In a brief speech, Putin also warned he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory, days ahead of referendums seeking to claim parts of Ukraine as Russia.


The decree comes amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast, which has forced a Russian retreat from the region. The partial call-up conscripts up to 300,000 of Russia's 2 million reserves into the Armed Forces initially, though analysts note the decree is open-ended (see text). For context, an estimated 190,000 troops took part in the initial February invasion and experts estimate that number has remained under 200,000 since. 


At least 1,200 people were arrested in protests against the announced mobilization Wednesday, and airlines and rail carriers reportedly saw a surge in one-way tickets out of the country. 

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> US music revenue up 9% in 2022, with vinyl record sales up 22% (More) | Child sex abuse lawsuit against comedians Tiffany Haddish and Aries Spears dismissed (More)


Two winners to split July’s $1.3B Mega Millions lottery jackpot, the third largest in US history (More)


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Science & Technology

> OpenAI releases Whisper, a speech recognition platform trained on more than 680,000 hours of multilingual input, for free and open-source use by developers and researchers (More)


> Specific chemical scent that attracts mosquitoes to human skin identified; new study pinpoints the mixture as carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and a molecule involved in energy conversion known as ketoglutaric acid (More)


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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.7%, Dow -1.7%, Nasdaq -1.8%) after Federal Reserve increases rates 0.75% for third consecutive meeting (More)


> US existing home sales fall in August to slowest pace since June 2020, down 20% since last August; median home price of $389,500 is up 8% from last year (More) | Average cost of gas in the US increases for the first time in 98 days to $3.68 per gallon; prices up from $3.19 one year ago (More)


> Meta (Facebook) and Alphabet (Google) reportedly cutting costs, including staff, amid slowing economy, per sources (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Ex-Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter for his role in the 2020 killing of George Floyd (More)


> New York attorney general sues former President Donald Trump, his three eldest children, and their company for allegedly misrepresenting property values for tax purposes (More) | See lawsuit (More) | Appeals court allows Justice Department to regain access to sensitive documents recovered in Mar-a-Lago raid (More)


> Two US military veterans and eight other foreign fighters are released as part of a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, brokered by Saudi Arabia (More



The Contagion on Social Media 

Kite & Key | Staff. Can you become sick through social media? New research says it might be possible, as vulnerable people fall prey to mass psychogenic illnesses via the internet. (Watch)

The NFL Star and the Stadium

Mississippi Free Press | Ashton Pittman, William Pittman. Newly uncovered records suggest retired NFL star Brett Favre helped secure $6M in welfare funds for a college volleyball stadium where his daughter played. (Read)



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Five things to know about today's autumnal equinox.


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Clickbait: Gourmet chefs hate this one weird trick.


Historybook: President Abraham Lincoln issues preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (1862); Peace Corps formally authorized by Congress (1961); Iraq invades Iran, beginning the Iran-Iraq War (1980); “Friends” debuts on NBC (1994); Baseball great Yogi Berra dies (2015).


"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

- Yogi Berra

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