9.7.2022

Juul Settles, 'Fat Leonard' Escapes, and Stable Diffusion Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Sept. 7, and we're covering a multistate settlement with electronic cigarette maker Juul, the escape of a Malaysian businessman charged in the worst US Navy bribery scandal, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

 

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Juul Settles Vaping Probe 

Electronic cigarette maker Juul has agreed to pay $438.5M to settle a two-year investigation by 33 states and Puerto Rico into its marketing and sales practices directed at underage consumers. The deal concludes one of Juul's biggest legal battles; the company faces nine other state challenges and a consolidated class action from individuals, school districts, and local governments. 

 

Juul will make payments over six to 10 years and the total amount may increase depending on how long the company takes to payoff the settlement. Juul is also banned from a host of marketing practices, which it already halted after coming under fire in 2019, including depicting people under 35 in its campaigns, paying social media influencers, and advertising on billboards.

 

The settlement follows earlier deals with individual states and comes amid an ongoing fight against the Food and Drug Administration, which seeks to ban Juul products from the US. Juul, launched in 2015, once controlled more than 75% of the US e-cigarette market.

Earthquake in Sichuan

At least 74people were killed and hundreds injured after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck southwestern China Monday, triggering landslides and disrupting power. The epicenter hit 125 miles southwest of Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, in the mountainous county of Luding.

 

Despite the earthquake, authorities continue to enforce strict COVID-19 lockdown measures in the city of nearly 21 million people. Citizens shared videos reportedly showing officials preventing them from exiting their residences during the tremors. China reported almost 1,500 new cases yesterday, with Sichuan accounting for 138. Nearly 65 million people in China are currently under some level of lockdown.

 

Earthquakes are common in the region as it sits on the Tibetan Plateau—where the continental plates of India and Eurasia meet—including a 7.9 magnitude quake that killed nearly 90,000 people in 2008.

 

See video of the quake here.

'Fat Leonard' Escapes

Leonard Francis, the Malaysian businessman who pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing the US Navy, escaped house arrest outside San Diego Sunday after cutting off his GPS monitoring bracelet. After seven years of cooperating with federal prosecutors, he was due for sentencing in three weeks. 

 

As head of a Singapore-based supplier of port services, Francis allegedly swindled the US Navy's 7th Fleet out of at least $35M, paying $500K to dozens of Navy officials—often via dinners, travel, and sex workers—in exchange for classified information to boost his business contracts by gouging Navy clients. He was arrested after a 2013 sting operation in San Diego. Hundreds of servicemembers were implicated, and at least 30 individuals from the Navy and Francis' company have either pleaded or been found guilty. 

 

In 2021, Francis recorded his side of the story after journalist Tom Wright smuggled a microphone to him in home detention. Listen to the nine-part podcast here.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Justin Bieber cancels remaining tour dates amid health problems; Bieber was recently diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, leaving his face partially paralyzed (More) | "NCIS" star Pauley Perrette, 53, reveals she suffered massive stroke last year (More)

 

> Alabama, Georgia top college football's AP Top 25 poll after Week 1 victories (More) | Majority of minor league baseball players support unionizing, paving the way to join Major League Baseball Players Association (More)

 

> Las Vegas Aces top Seattle Storm 3-1 to advance to WNBA Finals; Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun face off in decisive Game 5 tomorrow (8 pm ET, ESPN2) in the other semifinal matchup (More) | See latest bracket (More)

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Science & Technology

> Los Angeles Unified, the second largest school district in the US, reveals it suffered a ransomware attack over the weekend; schools remained open as officials worked to resolve technical disruption (More)

 

> Scientists discover mechanism allowing tardigrades—commonly known as water bears—to survive dehydration under extreme conditions; organisms produce a gel that coats cells, protecting their structure in the absence of water (More) | Meet the world's toughest creature (More)

 

> Antarctic seafloor mapping reveals the Florida-sized Thwaites glacier retreated at rates up to 1.3 miles per year at some point during the past two centuries; results suggest the large glacier changes quickly in response to local climate (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets end lower (S&P 500 -0.4%, Dow -0.6%, Nasdaq -0.7%) to kick off the week (More) | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy virtually rings New York Stock Exchange bell, encourages investment in Ukraine (More)

 

> CVS to acquire in-home healthcare provider Signify Health for $8B (More)

 

> The European Union blocks Illumina’s proposed $7B acquisition of cancer detection business GRAIL (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Typhoon Hinnamnor hits South Korea, killing at least six people, flooding streets with 3 feet of rain, and causing power outages (More) | California urges residents to reduce electricity use as state faces record-breaking power demand and chance of blackouts amid heat wave (More)

 

Federal judge bars New Mexico county commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin from public office for joining Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol (More)

 

> Memphis, Tennessee, police identify body of abducted jogger Eliza Fletcher, an heir to a multibillion-dollar hardware company; police charge Cleotha Abston with first-degree murder (More) | Uvalde, Texas, students return to school since deadly mass shooting in May; Robb Elementary remains shuttered (More

SUPPORT, COOL AS A CUCUMBER

 

In partnership with Electric

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ETCETERA

 

Stable Diffusion, a powerful AI-based image generator, opens to the public.

 

Visualizing various animal sleep patterns.

 

NASA is producing oxygen on Mars.

 

Expedition captures the Titanic in unprecedented detail.

 

The crafty camouflages of the insect world

 

America's most underrated places to visit.

 

A view of the traffic leaving Burning Man. (via Reddit)

 

Illinois' ComEd power company appreciates its goats.

 

Clickbait: Officials seize $12M in cocaine baby wipes.

 

Historybook: Uncle Sam first used as nickname for the US (1813); Rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly born (1936); "I Will Survive" singer Gloria Gaynor born (1943); Pro Football Hall of Fame opens in Canton, Ohio (1963); Rapper Tupac Shakur is shot, dies six days later (1996).

 

"Self-esteem comes from what you think of you, not what other people think of you."

- Gloria Gaynor

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