Happy Wednesday! Joey Chestnut might just be the greatest American athlete of all time.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday barring White House staffers and other federal officials and agencies from communicating with social media companies for the purpose of “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing” them to remove or suppress “content containing protected free speech.” The injunction comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana alleging the Biden administration violated the First Amendment by working with social media platforms to censor what it deemed misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, the lab-leak theory, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the 2020 election, and other hot-button issues. The Justice Department will likely appeal the ruling.
- Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group leader who instigated a mutiny late last month, appears to have released an audio message on Telegram Monday—his first public comments in approximately a week—that seemingly confirmed he is still alive. “I want you to understand that our ‘March of Justice’ was aimed at fighting traitors and mobilizing our society,” he said. “In the near future, I am sure that you will see our next victories at the front.” One of the targets of Prigozhin’s ire—Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu—also spoke out on Monday, claiming the Wagner rebellion failed because “personnel of the Armed Forces showed loyalty to their oath and military duty.”
- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov hinted yesterday that Russia would be open to a prisoner swap that would free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich—who has been detained since March on dubious espionage charges—in exchange for Vladimir Dunaev, a Russian national charged with cybercrimes in 2021. “There have been certain contacts on the subject, but we don’t want them to be discussed in public,” Peskov told reporters. “They must be carried out and continue in complete silence.” The U.S. ambassador to Russia was allowed to meet with Gershkovich in Moscow on Monday for just the second time since the reporter was arrested.
- The State Department recently issued an updated travel advisory for China, recommending Americans “reconsider” any travel to the country due to its “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” and the “risk of wrongful detentions.”
- Lawyers for Civil Rights—a Boston-based legal nonprofit—filed a complaint against Harvard University with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Monday, alleging Harvard’s legacy admissions policy “systematically disadvantage[s] students of color” and is “not justified by any educational necessity.” The complaint comes just days after Harvard’s race-based admissions policies were found to violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
- NATO member countries agreed on Tuesday to extend Jens Stoltenberg’s term as secretary general another year—until October 2024—after failing to coalesce around a successor to the former Norwegian prime minister, who’s led the military alliance since 2014. Stoltenberg’s tenure atop the organization had already been extended three times—in 2017, 2019, and 2022.
- The German government announced Monday it will increase its defense budget to the equivalent of $56.4 billion in 2024, a record high. Combined with a special fund set up in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany’s total military investment is now on pace to hit NATO’s target of 2 percent of its gross domestic product.
- At least five people were killed—and two more injured—when a shooter wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire in southwest Philadelphia on Monday night, seemingly at random. The perpetrator was apprehended by police on the scene and is expected to make a court appearance today.
No Chickens Were Harmed in the Making of This Chicken
Independence Day is many things—a celebration of the American founding, a time to reflect on how the United States is living up to its ideals, a means of bringing communities together across the country—but above all, it’s a day to overeat. “I normally don’t have a burger, brat, and a steak,” comedian Jim Gaffigan once quipped. “But it is [the] Fourth of July.”
Americans consume tens of millions of hot dogs and hamburgers at this time every year, and we hope you contributed to that tally yesterday. But in the not-too-distant future, your grilled meat of choice could come not from a farm or a butcher, but … a lab?
Two cultivated meat companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, announced last month they had received U.S. Department of Agriculture approval to begin producing and selling their cultivated chicken to consumers. The Food and Drug Administration had already cleared the companies’ chicken as safe to eat, and the USDA signed off on a “cell-cultivated chicken” label last month. The various authorizations mark a significant step toward wider adoption of the technology, but chickens, cows, and pigs can’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet—a host of economic and logistical hurdles remain before the cell-cultivated meat supplants the real deal.