• Trade: The White House confirmed it's pulling out grandma's finest silverware for the next round of high-level trade talks with China, which will officially take place in D.C. starting Thursday.
  • Geopolitics: In defense of his highly controversial decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, President Trump said he will "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if the country does anything Trump deems "off limits."

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Your Honor, Your Honor: The Supreme Court Is Back

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court kicked off its 2019-2020 season without playing a single preseason game. Still, the Nine didn't waste any time diving into controversial topics like...

Rights for people with disabilities in the digital economy

Yesterday, the high court rejected Domino's appeal of a lawsuit claiming its website and mobile app fail to meet federal disability standards.

The backstory: Guillermo Robles, who is blind, sued Domino's under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Because Robles can't use his screen-reading software to order from the Domino's website and app, he says he was denied access to the company's pizza-making services.

  • Domino's argued a) the relevant portion of the ADA only applies to physical facilities, not online platforms, and b) customers with disabilities can get the same services by other means, like making a phone call.

This is a W for Robles and disability advocates--the Supreme Court denying the petition means a lower court's decision against Domino's will stand.

Zoom out: This issue goes far beyond Robles. More than 2,200 lawsuits were filed over website accessibility last year, almost 3x the 2017 number.

And today, the court turns to LGBTQ employees' rights

The law at the center of the debate: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Supreme Court will decide whether it protects gay and transgender workers from discrimination.

  • Sexual orientation isn't explicitly mentioned in Title VII, but last year a federal appeals court ruled that it naturally falls under the "sex" part.
  • Other federal courts have concluded that because the law doesn't explicitly mention sexual orientation, LGBTQ workers aren't protected.

Zoom out: Many states, local governments, and companies prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the federal government has been deadlocked on the issue for decades.

Looking ahead
Get ready for plenty more biz-related cases, from a copyright dustup over footage of Blackbeard's ship to the future of DACA, a program that protects immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children.


In Trying to Please China, the NBA Pleases No One

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted (then quickly deleted) a message of support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong last Friday, earning negative reviews from Chinese basketball fans, the Chinese government, and Chinese businesses...many of which don't approve of the protests.

The NBA acknowledged the tweet "deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China," but Morey's box had already been flung open.

  • Around China...businesses cut ties with the Rockets. Tencent, which streamed NBA content to nearly 500 million Chinese people last season, said it would suspend Rockets live streams.
  • Around the league...Alibaba co-founder and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai criticized Morey's tweet, writing "the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair."
  • Around the U.S...politicians and commentators criticized the NBA for bowing to China's authoritarian government in exchange for billion-dollar dreams.

Bottom line: The NBA is known for being "woke" on social issues at home, but its stance on China threatens that reputation.

+ South Park saw this coming. Its latest episode focused on American businesses consenting to Chinese government censorship to access the country's vast consumer market. With a lot more f-bombs.


Oyo's Yolo Moment

Oyo Hotels and Homes, India's second-most valuable startup, is raising $1.5 billion from investors including founder Ritesh Agarwal and SoftBank's Vision Fund in a push to plant its flag in international markets.

Agarwal, who at 25 is learning the meaning of the word "hungover" while running a roughly $10 billion company, will spend $700 million to buy new shares in Oyo. He's working on a $2 billion plan to triple his stake in the company.

Oyo's been watching a lot of Bar Rescue. It takes the operational reins at existing hotels, then renovates them and trains staff in exchange for a ~25% cut of every booking.

  • Oyo (est. 2013) covers 1.2 million rooms in 80+ countries.
  • But some of the 10,000+ hotel owners who work with Oyo in India say the company sometimes ends up taking over half of sales using sketchy fee increases.

Zoom out: Oyo is a "high-growth, high-spend," SoftBank-backed startup, Crunchbase points out. WeWork is the word you're thinking of...but Oyo's fundraise suggests investors might not be totally spooked just yet.


Stats That Make You Go..."Wow"

20%-25% of U.S. health care spending is wasted annually, according to new research published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That made us go "wow" but also "eh, kinda makes sense," considering the U.S. spends more than any other country on health care at nearly 18% of GDP.

  • FYI, the study's lead author is the chief medical officer of health insurer Humana.

Back to the numbers: At least $760 billion of annual U.S. health care spending is considered wasteful. Breaking that down...

  • $266 billion is flushed down the toilet on administrative costs, the greatest source of waste.
  • Pricing failure accounts for $231 billion to $241 billion in waste.
  • Other ways we've managed to throw money down the drain: Overtreatment and low-value care, fraud and abuse, and failure of care delivery.

Now that we've identified the problem, we can fix it...right? Right?

"It is likely that substantial waste in U.S. health care spending remains," the study's authors inform us, but evidence-based interventions could produce "better care at lower cost for all U.S. residents."


Business Casual Episode 3: Who's Hungry?

Trends come and go, but lunch is forever. Unless you're Samantha Wasser, founder of the plant-based and vegan restaurant chain by CHLOE. In that case, trends are forever, too.

This week on Morning Brew's podcast Business Casual, Wasser explains how making the most of food trends and taking the "polar opposite" approach of most vegan restaurants helped her salad shop grow to an international chain with an enviable Instagram following. And really good tempeh patties.

But this is Business Casual, which is about more than tempeh patties. Wasser explains in the episode why a boom in business for plant-based meats like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods is good for all restaurateurs hoping to become more sustainable.

What else will you hear?

  • Tips and tricks to optimize your "phone eats first" attitude (tip No. 1--never mix your salad before you serve it)
  • An argument in favor of sweating the small stuff
  • How to pitch venture capital on the long-shunned restaurant space
  • Three letters: CBD


  • GE (-0.12%) is freezing 20,000 salaried U.S. workers' pensions to trim net debt by about $6 billion and cut its pension deficit by about $8 billion.
  • The 400 wealthiest Americans paid a lower rate for federal, state, and local taxes than any other group for the first time ever last year, per the NYT.
  • SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son told Nikkei Business he's "embarrassed and flustered" by his recent investment track record.
  • Unilever (+0.32%), the owner of Ben & Jerry's, said it will try to cut its non-recycled plastics use in half by 2025. TBD whether that's good enough to get its own ice cream flavor.
  • Ben Roethlisberger was reportedly fined $5,000 for wearing an Apple Watch on the sidelines of a recent Steelers game. Message-transmitting devices like those are barred.


Guess the Year
We've got a new game for you today. We'll give you four major business events that all took place in the same year...you have to figure out the year.

  1. BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill
  2. Founding of WeWork
  3. General Motors IPO
  4. The release of the original iPad

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Breakroom Answers

Guess the Year

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Oct 8, 2019