Inflation, Prince Andrew, and Alphabet Evolution Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, Jan. 13, and we're covering continuing inflation, a Jeffrey Epstein-related lawsuit against Prince Andrew, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Four-Decade Inflation High

Inflation rose last year to the largest 12-month increase since 1982, according to data released yesterday. The consumer price index (see 101), which tracks the price of a basket of goods and services, rose 0.5% in December and jumped 7% for the full year, according to data from the US Labor Department.

The cost of used cars and trucks was the largest contributor to price increases in December (up 3.5%) and the full year (up 37%). Energy costs fell in December (down 0.4%) for the first time since April due to decreases in gasoline and natural gas, but were still up 29% for the overall year. Gasoline was up 49% for the year. Experts point to heightened demand and supply chain disruptions for the price surge. 


The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates at least three times this year in an effort to slow borrowing and bring down inflation.  

An Omicron Peak?

The current US COVID-19 surge may be close to peaking, according to researchers who suggest the highly transmissible omicron variant may soon run out of vulnerable candidates for infection. The cautious optimism comes as average daily cases dipped Tuesday for the first time since Christmas.


A widely cited model currently predicts the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization will peak around Jan. 26. The projections also suggest almost 80% of cases will either go untested or tested but unreported—the model peaks at more than 6.2 million total infections per day. Explore the dashboard here.


Separately, a new study comparing the omicron and delta variants showed a 91% reduction in death and a 53% reduction in hospitalization with the omicron strain (see data).


South Africa, where the variant was first observed, appears to be fully through the omicron wave, while cases have begun dropping in Britain. See a comparison with the US here

Prince Andrew Suit Proceeds

A New York judge rejected Prince Andrew’s application to dismiss Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit yesterday. Giuffre claims she was sexually abused by the British prince three times when she was 17 at the homes of deceased sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Andrew has argued the charges should be dropped under the terms of Giuffre’s 2009 civil settlement with Epstein—containing a clause preventing her from pursuing friends of Epstein. The judge ruled it was not clear the clause included Prince Andrew and could only be invoked by Epstein or Giuffre.


Andrew now faces being deposed with a full civil trial likely later this year, or he may choose an out-of-court settlement. However, he cannot be forced to participate in the trial due to different legal jurisdictions, in which case the court would rule a default judgment against him.


In related news, prosecutors are offering to drop perjury charges against Maxwell if she is not granted a retrial, a development that came after a juror told the media he had been a victim of sexual abuse.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> "House of Gucci," "Succession," and "Ted Lasso" among most-nominated films and TV shows for 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards; see full list of nominees (More)


> Ronnie Spector, lead singer of 1960s girl group The Ronettes known for hit song "Be My Baby," dies at 78 (More)


> Harry Styles joins Billie Eilish and Kanye West in headlining 2022 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (More)

Science & Technology

In partnership with Reliefband

> East Africa's oldest modern human fossil dated to 233,000 years ago, at least 36,000 years older than previously believed (More)


> Study finds all young stars nearby Earth sit on the surface of what is known as the Local Bubble, a 1,000-light-year-wide region created by an ancient series of supernovae (More) | Watch video animation (More)


> Protein that plays a key role in Parkinson's disease also found to be involved in mounting an immune response in the gut; potential link to the neurodegenerative disease remains unclear (More)

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Business & Markets

> US stock markets slightly up (S&P 500 +0.3%, Dow +0.1%, Nasdaq +0.2%) in yesterday’s choppy trading session (More)


> Private equity giant TPG prices initial public offering, raising near $1B; will start trading today on the Nasdaq (More)


> Payments startup Checkout.com raises $1B, valuing firm at $40B (More) | Modern-day convenience store Foxtrot raises $100M to expand into 50 new brick and mortar locations (More

Politics & World Affairs

> Jan. 6 committee requests voluntary interview from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-23); McCarthy declines request (More)


> House to vote on consolidated voting rights bill today (More) | President Joe Biden meets with Senate Democratic caucus, calls for filibuster rule change to pass voting rights bill (More)


> Russia, NATO officials meet as tensions over Ukraine grow; at least 100,000 troops have amassed on the Ukraine border (More)



The Return of Alpha-Gal

Radiolab | Staff. (Podcast) What do tick bites, mysterious meat allergies, and the recent breakthrough of a pig-to-human heart transplant have in common? A simple sugar molecule known as alpha galactose. (Listen)

The Con Artist's Country

The Hustle | Mark Dent. The story of Poyais, a mystical and beautiful—and entirely fictional—country into which hundreds of 19th century London investors poured their money. (Read)



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Time to settle every internet debate, ever.


The evolution of the alphabet.


Engineering firm unveils a flying boat


Fifty-two places to travel to in 2022. (paywall, via NYT)


Chain saw tops list of TSA's strangest finds from the past year.


Freddy Krueger's favorite haunt sells for $3M.


Dog lost after summer wildfires found by backcountry skier


Los Angeles police officers fired for ignoring robbery to play Pokémon Go.


Clickbait: Hot doggy dogg.


Historybook: RIP author James Joyce (1941); HBD actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1961); Robert C. Weaver becomes first Black US cabinet member (1966); Air Florida Flight 90 crashes into Washington, DC's 14th Street bridge, killing 78 (1982); Douglas Wilder becomes first elected Black US governor (1990); 32 die as cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off coast of Italy (2012).


"A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery."

- James Joyce

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