Olympic Unusuals: Teen champs, diversity, mental health, and fan-less stadiums.

Welcome to a new edition of The Weekender… Cryptocurrency is being accepted as a legitimate currency around the world and is now appearing in infrastructure plans. Is the U.S. government finally getting behind the digital currency? Also—Chief Medical Officer is becoming a staple in the C-Suite. How has the role impacted companies and their employees? And finally—as the Summer Olympic Games come to an end, we are taking a look at the most memorable (and odd) feats, including 13-year-old champions, diversity among athletes, mental health issues, and fan-less stadiums. Catch up on these news headlines and more below in this week’s The Weekender. Thanks for joining us.
 
THE BIG FIVE

The battle over controlling crypto and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Another week, another update on the pending bipartisan infrastructure bill. This time, lawmakers are looking to crack down on cryptocurrency transactions. This is just one of the multiple occasions in which the U.S. government is trying to regulate cryptocurrency. This news comes after Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler urged lawmakers to give the SEC more power to fight fraud, scams, and abuse in cryptocurrency. Increasing reporting requirements for cryptocurrency could raise nearly $28 billion over 10 years, the Joint Committee on Taxation reported. Gensler outlined the steps the SEC is already taking to hold the cryptocurrency accountable, which include targeting decentralized trading platforms and stablecoins, such as the Facebook-spearheaded Diem coin that derive their value from underlying assets like the U.S. dollar, POLITICO reports. The enhanced enforcement of regulating cryptocurrencies and ending the employee retention tax credit is part of the finance plan for the bill, alongside redirecting unspent emergency relief funds. Fox Business reports that the proposed infrastructure investments include $40 billion for bridges, $52.5 billion for roads, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail, and $73 billion for electric grid modernization. As the United States works towards investing in a cleaner and more sustainable infrastructure, what will that mean for the future of cryptocurrency and the lack of regulation? Read more in Fox Business. 

Federal moratorium prevents evictions but could face legal challenges and financial problems.

The Biden administration revealed a new federal moratorium on evictions this week, protecting renters from losing their homes and reviving protections that give states and cities more time to utilize the $47 billion in rental assistance until the new deadline on October 3. The protection extends to communities with a high number of Covid-19 cases, which includes a majority of U.S. counties, as the CDC takes new measures that help protect renters as well. The order states: “Without this Order, evictions in these [higher transmission] areas would likely exacerbate the increase in cases.” The new order, however, could face legal challenges. Gener Sperling, a senior advisor to President Biden, told journalists that President Biden had to “quadruple-check” whether he could legally extend the moratorium unilaterally, as the Supreme Court ruled that “congressional authorization” was needed. Senior Republicans like Pat Toomey (R-PA) argue that the new moratorium lacks a legal basis and economic justification. Some experts warn the moratorium could lead to more loan defaults as lenders are less willing to take on reduced debt service payments. For now, there is no plan to continue to phase the moratorium out after it expires in less than 60 days. Read more in NPR.
 

Meet the C-suite’s newest addition: Chief Medical Officer.

While thinking about the role of a Chief Medical Officer, do companies such as Pepsi, Tyson Foods, or Delta come to mind? The spread of Covid-19 has made the position of Chief Medical Officer a new must-have in the C-Suite. While the role itself is expanding to a myriad of industries, the way it presents itself is also changing. The role has allowed companies to hone in on the well-being of their employees and compliance with changing public health regulations. The pandemic has made companies realize that public health in an office setting is more than just covering a cough or properly washing hands. Over the last 12 months, employee health professionals focus on infectious disease control and mental health support most of the time, the International SOS Foundation finds. The growth of CMO’s role in various corporations is telling towards the future of business in the country, with business continuity expected to grow 8 percent over the next ten years. Read more in Bloomberg.

The 2021 Olympic Games will be one to remember.
When former Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer announced her departure from the company in January, doubt and concern penetrated the business space. As months went on, the company proved that the loss of Brewer wasn’t what folks on Wall Street had feared; in fact, it only confirmed the coffee shop’s worth. Starbucks has been ahead of its time in several facets: most notably its work on social issues years before it started making headlines news and became a high-profile topic across the nation. Starbucks’ company culture puts its employees and customers above all else, training staff that “no” is a complete sentence. Starbucks’ “Employees and Customers First” business model has helped boost employees and promote within, which has added to the company’s managerial talent pool. The company calls the culture its “secret sauce” that keeps employees—and customers—coming back to Starbucks. Read more in New York Times.

California’s droughts and impacts on the booming dairy-alternative market.

For weeks, headlines have been flooded with news of fires erupting on the United States’ west coast. Now that the fires have started to slow down, states like California and Oregon face droughts across the state. The San Fransisco Chronicle reports that one of California’s largest reservoirs saw a record low this week as the state begins to curtail water to farmers statewide. For consumers and companies alike, the question lies in what this will mean for meat and dairy production. A recent market report from Global Newswire notes that the alternative dairy market is expected to $53.97 billion by 2028, surging demand for plant-based milk alternatives. Blue Diamond growers, a California-based dairy alternative company, was noted in the report as one of the key players in the dairy alternative market. While dairy-free milk alternatives offer market sustainability, BBC reports that a single glass of almond milk requires 130 pints of water or a little more than 16 gallons of water, which is more than a typical shower, while cows need approximately 137 gallons of water a day to survive, they produce 8 gallons of milk each day. With the explosion of the dairy-alternative market, how will this affect California farms and families across the state? The intersection of diets and environmental sustainability have been and will continue to be a heated debate. Read more in Fortune Business Insights.

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

Belarus: A continued fight in protest.
Belarusian athlete Krystina Tikhanovskaya has been granted a humanitarian visa in Poland after leaving the Tokyo Olympic Games. This news comes after the sprinter said she feared for her safety while criticizing her coaches on social media. Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz said the 24-year-old athlete had arrived in Warsaw, Poland, after flying in from Tokyo via Vienna—a route apparently chosen to confuse those who would endanger her safety, a report from the Associated Press says. She was later removed from the Olympic Team. The Belarusian government said she was removed due to her emotional state, while Tikhanovskaya says that she does not have any mental health issues and had not spoken with medical professionals in the Olympic village. Tikhanovskaya told reporters that she loves her country and wants to return to Belarus when it’s safe. This comes after nationwide protests over President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed re-election since being in power for over two decades. BBC reports that earlier this week on the head of an organization helping Belarusians fleeing abroad was found dead near his home in neighboring Ukraine. Read more in BBC.

DATA POINTS

97: The number of medals the United States took home in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 31 gold, 35 silver, and 31 bronze medals were awarded to Team USA during the two-week competition. 

$30 billion: The amount in taxes from cryptocurrency transactions at stake during “Infrastructure Week” on the Hill as Congress continues to hammer out the details of the $1 trillion bill. Senators have narrowed the definition of “brokers,” leaving the crypto industry in the dark. 

40%: The percentage of U.S. adults who say the coronavirus situation is getting better in the United States. After a few months of respite, the U.S. faces another wave of infections, leaving many Americans concerned about what is to come for them and their loved ones. 

8 million: The population of New York City, the first major U.S. city to require proof of vaccination to participate in indoor activities. The mandate will move forward the week of August 16th and be fully enforced starting September 13th. 

$3.99: The cost to view “The Outsider” on Facebook on August 19. “The Outsider” is a documentary about the construction of the 9/11 Museum in Manhattan and is the first time a film distributor will use Facebook to debut a movie exclusively via a ticketed live event. 

45.94: The number of seconds it took for Norway’s Karsten Warholm to complete the men’s 400-meter hurdles at the Tokyo Olympic Games, setting a new world record. After breaking a 29-year-old world record just one month prior, commentators are calling Warholm’s performance, “the best race in Olympic history.” 

7: The number of Olympic medals for which Simone Biles has — tied with Shannon Miller as the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast of all time. After taking the first two rounds of competition off due to mental health, Biles returned to win bronze in the individual balance beam final. 

$10 trillion: The amount Americans collectively owe for their homes, with 44% of that balance originating in the past year. This fresh data point illustrates the historic mad dash to buy new homes or refinance existing mortgages. 

63%: The amount of New York voters who think Governor Andrew Cuomo should resign after an independent investigation concluded that he sexually harassed multiple women. Despite the release of the public findings, Cuomo continues to refuse to resign. 

TWEET

Credit: @SkyNews
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