7.18.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, July 18, and we're covering Moscow pulling out of a key grain export agreement, a new drug to protect toddlers from a respiratory virus, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Russia Suspends Grain Deal

Russia announced yesterday it would suspend its participation in a deal allowing Ukraine to safely ship grains through the Black Sea, effectively ending the accord. In justifying the move, Russian officials cited the United Nations' alleged failure to uphold parts of the deal designed to streamline Russian fertilizer and grain exports.

 

The Black Sea Grain Initiative enabled over 30 million tons of corn, wheat, and other grains (see data) to flow across the globe in the last year, helping reduce the global price of grain by a reported 20%. Ukrainian officials signaled they would continue to move grains through the route, despite Russia's warning it would no longer guarantee safety to vessels in the corridor. 

 

Separately, a major bridge linking Russia to Crimea—which Russia annexed in 2014—was struck by boat drones, also known as uncrewed surface vessels, overnight Sunday, killing two and shutting down vehicle traffic; a parallel railroad route avoided closure. See war updates here

 

FDA Approves RSV Drug

The Federal Drug Administration yesterday approved the first drug to prevent the respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, in children up to 2 years old. RSV, which causes cold-like symptoms but can lead to acute respiratory infections, is the leading cause of hospitalizations for infants in the US (see overview).

 

The new drug from AstraZeneca and Sanofi, called nirsevimab and marketed under the brand name Beyfortus, is a monoclonal antibody (clones of real antibodies) meant to be administered through a single shot to infants entering their first RSV season, which lasts from fall to spring and peaks in winter. It may also be administered to children under 2 who are entering their second RSV season. See the difference between an antibody shot and a vaccine here.

 

The FDA approved the drug after three clinical trials showed it reduced the risk of RSV infection between 70% to 75% among infants and children under 2 years old. The drug has previously been approved in Canada, Europe, and the UK. 

 

Mallory Beach Settlement

The family of Mallory Beach, killed in a South Carolina boat crash, reached a settlement yesterday in their wrongful death suit against Greg Parker, owner of Parker’s convenience stores. Parker will pay $18M to the survivors of the crash, with $15M of the settlement going to the Beach family.

 

Beach, then 19, died in February 2019 after a boat driven by an intoxicated Paul Murdaugh crashed into a bridge in Beaufort County, causing Beach to be thrown overboard. Her body was found eight days later, with the cause of death determined to be blunt force trauma and drowning. Parker is accused of illegally selling alcohol to the underage Murdaugh before the crash. The case garnered national attention when Murdaugh, who was facing charges in connection with the crash, was murdered alongside his mother in June 2019. His father, Alex, was ultimately convicted of double homicide.

 

The news comes after the Beach family settled with the Murdaugh family in a separate case in January. Another civil harassment case against Parker’s is still ongoing.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Taylor Swift becomes first female artist to have four albums in the top 10 of the Billboard charts; Swift is also only living artist with 11 albums concurrently on the Billboard 200 (More)

> Eight former Northwestern football players hire high-profile civil rights lawyer Ben Crump to pursue lawsuit against Northwestern over hazing incidents (More)

> Elton John testifies for the defense in Kevin Spacey's London criminal trial; John testified Spacey did not attend an event at John's home when one of the sexual assaults was alleged to have occurred (More)

 

Science & Technology

In partnership with hear.com

> New Alzheimer's treatment shown to slow cognitive decline by 35% in clinical trials for patients with early stages of the disease; health regulators expected to decide on availability by end of year (More)

> Researchers find the level of diversity of blood stem cells, which is linked to susceptibility to blood cancer and disease in later years, is determined during embryonic development (More)

> NASA warns of potential solar flares throughout the week that may disrupt some telecommunications, with some blackouts of radio communications reported Sunday (More) | How solar flares work (More)

From our partners: Twice as nice. A team of top German engineers has unveiled the world’s first hearing aids with dual processing, which means twice the power and clarity. They’re called Horizon by hear.com, and hundreds of thousands have already tried these tiny but powerful devices. Virtually invisible, Bluetooth-enabled, and backed by audiologists everywhere. Learn more and start your 45-day no-risk trial today.

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.4%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq +0.9%); Dow up for sixth straight session to highest levels in 2023 (More)

> Tesla directors to return $735M to settle excessive compensation claims; does not affect a separate case regarding Elon Musk’s $56B compensation package (More) | Ford to reduce price of electric F-150 Lightning models by approximately $6K to $10K; company sold 4,466 models in Q2 (More

> Asset management giant BlackRock adds Saudi Aramco CEO to its board (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Heat wave across the southwestern US expected to move eastward this week, temperatures likely to continue to break records (More) | Italy's islands of Sicily and Sardinia brace for record temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit as heat wave sweeps Europe (More)  

> Iran's morality police resume street patrols to enforce the country's hijab requirements; development comes 10 months after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in custody of the morality police (More) | See background (More

> New York Police Department appoints Edward Caban as its 46th commissioner, becoming first Latino to head the department (More)

 

In-Depth

> Is it Time to Believe?

Air Mail | Rich Cohen. David Grusch, a retired US Air Force pilot, came forward with allegations the government has long known about—and has in its possession—alien spacecraft. Is it time to take ufology seriously? (Read)

 

... and check out this breakdown of Grusch's claims (w/video).

 

> Can the Fentanyl Epidemic be Stopped? 

In the Room | Peter Bergen. (Podcast) With ingredients shipped from China and a final product made and delivered by Mexican cartels, is there any way to reverse the flood of fentanyl into the US? (Apple | Audible)

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Etcetera
 

Florida suburb hit by rabbit invasion

 

Every US state's highest (and least) rated tourist attraction

 

Stranded sailor and dog rescued after two months at sea.

 

Factory-sealed 2007 4GB iPhone sells for over $190K.

 

Celebrating 155 years of golden retrievers.

 

Mystery object washes ashore on Australian beach.

 

Millions of US military emails sent to Mali thanks to a typo

 

Colombian government (briefly) joins "Barbie" hype

 

Clickbait: Meet the first ever "Golden Bachelor." 

 

Historybook: Novelist Jane Austen died (1817); Nelson Mandela born (1918); Astronaut and politician John Glenn born (1921); Nadia Comăneci gets first perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics history (1976); Actress Priyanka Chopra born (1982).

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