7.10.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, July 10, and we're covering Europe's return to the space race, America's largest nonalcoholic beer brand, and much more. First time reading? Join over 3.5 million intellectually curious readers. Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Ariane 6 Blasts Off

The European Space Agency's next-generation Ariane 6 rocket lifted off for the first time yesterday from French Guiana, a French territory in northeastern South America. The long-awaited launch (see video) is part of Europe's efforts to regain independent access to space after roughly a year of relying on Elon Musk's SpaceX for missions such as satellite deployments. 

 

The $4.5B rocket carried a variety of satellites and experimental spacecraft, most of which were successfully deployed. However, a technical issue during the flight's final phase prevented the last batch of cargo from being released. Ariane 6's maiden voyage was set for 2020 but faced delays due to technical issues, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war. The 200-foot-tall rocket comes in two versions: Ariane 62 and Ariane 64. Both succeed Ariane 5, which retired one year ago. Ariane 5 had exploded minutes into its inaugural flight in 1996 before achieving 112 successful flights out of 117 launches. 

 

The Ariane 6 has 30 missions lined up, including 18 to help build out Amazon's new Kuiper satellite-internet constellation

 

Athletic Brewing Grows

Upstart nonalcoholic beer producer Athletic Brewing Company raised $50M in equity financing this week, doubling its overall value in just two years to $800M. The company, led by former hedge fund trader Bill Shufelt, has been credited with catalyzing a boom in nonalcoholic beer options since its brightly colored cans hit stores in 2018. 

 

Shufelt and head brewer John Walker came together in 2017 to produce a nonalcoholic brew with a comparable taste to alcoholic beers, marketing it toward customers with active lifestyles as an additional option to alcohol, not a substitute. Nonalcoholic beer accounted for roughly 2% of all US beer sales in 2022, and the industry has grown over 30% annually in recent years.  

 

Athletic's success mirrors a broader shift toward nonalcoholic options in the US, especially among younger generations. Overall, beer sales are in decline, and health-conscious Gen Z adults reportedly drink 20% less than other generations at their age. See alcohol trends here.

 

Drug Pricing Probe

The Federal Trade Commission released an interim report yesterday on pharmacy benefit managers, highlighting concerns about their impact on drug pricing and accessibility. The two-year investigation found the six largest PBMs manage nearly 95% of all prescriptions filled in the US, with the top three—CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx—controlling about 80%.

 

PBMs act as pharmaceutical middlemen, deciding which drugs are covered and often setting patient out-of-pocket costs. The report (see here) suggests PBMs may be overcharging for certain drugs, imposing unfair contract terms on independent pharmacies, and steering patients toward higher-cost pharmacies. The FTC claims these practices resulted in nearly $1.6B in revenue for the three biggest pharmacies from just two cancer drugs over three years. PBMs have disputed the report's conclusions, maintaining their practices save money for employers, the government, and patients.

 

The findings could potentially lead to further investigations, legal action, or increased regulatory efforts at both federal and state levels.

In partnership with EnergyX

Supercharging The Lithium Supply Chain

 

Each EV battery needs ~70 kg of lithium—10,000x the amount of a smartphone. With over 1.2 billion EVs needing to be on the road by 2050, current lithium production can’t keep up with that demand.

 

When EnergyX revealed that their technology could extract up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods, investors everywhere took note. The company has raised $100M+ of investments from General Motors and others, and they just announced Project Lonestar, a US lithium plant supported by a $5M Department of Energy grant.

 

EnergyX is offering a unique opportunity to join some of the Fortune 500’s biggest companies—like GM—and invest on the ground floor as they’re set to unlock a massive lithium supply. For a limited time, EnergyX invites you to join them as a shareholder.*

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Spain tops France 2-1 to advance to UEFA European Championship finals (More) | England takes on the Netherlands this afternoon (3 pm ET, Fox) in the other semifinal (More)

> Joe Bonsall, Country Music Hall of Famer and longtime member of The Oak Ridge Boys, dies at 76 (More) | Doug Sheehan, prolific TV actor, dies at 75 (More)

> "The Devil Wears Prada" sequel in early development at Disney (More) | "Shrek 5" set for 2026 release with full main cast returning (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Researchers compile database of magnetic bacteria that reside in animals; analysis is a step toward understanding how animals sense and use the Earth's magnetic field for things like navigation (More

> Analysis of crystals suggests Earth's tectonic plates began moving as early as 4.2 billion years ago, more than 700 million years earlier than previous evidence suggested (More) | What are tectonic plates? (More)

> New fiber optic network transmits data at speeds above 400 terabytes per second, passing the current record by nearly 33% (More

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed (S&P 500 +0.1%, Dow -0.1%, Nasdaq +0.1%) after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says the economy is no longer overheated, raising expectations for interest rate cuts (More)

> Delta Air Lines partners with Saudi-based airline startup Riyadh Air, set to launch next year; Delta to provide first direct flights between the US and Saudi Arabia (More)

> Sam Altman's OpenAI and Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global team up to launch Thrive AI Health, a new venture aimed at developing a personalized, AI-powered health coaching platform (More)

In partnership with The Ascent

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What makes this card so unique is that not only is it a slam dunk for cash back, but it also touts 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers well into 2025. It’s not every day you get up to 5% cash back paired with 0% interest for nearly a year and a half. If that sounds like some of the highest cash back potential you’ve ever seen, well, it probably is.

 

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Politics & World Affairs

> Russian court orders the arrest of Alexei Navalny's widow, accusing her of participating in an extremist organization (More) | President Joe Biden kicks off NATO's 75th anniversary summit in Washington, DC, with announcement of more air defense support to Ukraine (More)

> Former US Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) dies following a short illness at age 89; Inhofe had been Oklahoma's longest-serving senator before stepping down early last year and was partly known for being skeptical of human-caused climate change (More)

> Congressional Democrats meet to discuss concerns over President Joe Biden's viability as a presidential candidate following CNN debate performance; discussions come after Biden sends a letter confirming he plans to stay in the race (More) | Read Biden's letter (More)

In partnership with EnergyX

How GM Is Securing Its Lithium Supply

 

The world will need to produce 3.8 million tons of lithium per year by 2035 to meet the demand for EVs. GM is turning to one startup to unlock US-based lithium supply: EnergyX. EnergyX’s technology can extract up to 300% more lithium than traditional methods.

 

GM led a $50 million funding round in EnergyX last year. Now, they’ve opened the opportunity to join them to all investors. For a limited time, EnergyX invites you to join them as a shareholder.

Please support our sponsors!

Etcetera
 

San Diego Zoo welcomes a pair of pandas.

 

Compare US college admission rates.  

 

How is heat impacting gardens?

 

Yellowstone is seeing a grizzly bear baby boom.

 

Whoopi Goldberg releases comic book about menopause.

 

Mysterious group steals, fixes, and returns garden gnomes.

 

Louisiana unveils crawfish-themed "I voted" sticker.

 

Why do stories begin with "once upon a time?"

 

Clickbait: Meet the first Miss AI beauty pageant winner.

 

Historybook: Iconic inventor Nikola Tesla born (1856); Scopes Monkey Trial begins (1925); Tennis player Arthur Ashe born (1943); Actress Sofia Vergara born (1972); Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sentenced to 40 years in prison in Miami on drug charges (1992).

"The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result ... His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way."

- Nikola Tesla

Why 1440? The printing press was invented around the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history. More facts: In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. We’re here to make each one count.

 

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*Disclosure: This is a paid advertisement for EnergyX's Regulation A+ Offering. Please read the offering circular at invest.energyx.com/.

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