Deadly Tornadoes, Inflation, and America's Hottest Real Estate Markets Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Monday, Dec. 13, and communities across the Mid-South are grieving after deadly tornadoes ripped through the region this weekend. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Tornadoes Slam the Mid-South

Dozens of people are feared dead and a number of others injured after intense Friday evening storms unleashed tornadoes across five states. Almost 20 tornadoes were confirmed along a path stretching across Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky—one tornado may have been on the ground for more than 200 miles


The exact death toll is unclear, with rescue teams continuing to search wreckage in multiple states. At least eight people were killed when the long-lasting twister made a direct hit on a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, where more than 100 people were working a night shift. See drone footage of the aftermath here. At least six people were confirmed dead in Illinois, four in Tennessee, and two in both Missouri and Arkansas. 


Many cities in the region saw record-high temperatures late last week. Meteorologists say a low-pressure system—a cold front moving into an area of warm air—was behind the intense activity, with wind shears fueled by the jet stream.


Separately, a massive storm is expected to drop up to six feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

Inflation Continues to Rise

Inflation saw its sharpest jump in almost four decades in November, with the consumer price index rising 6.8% compared to the same time last year. The figure was slightly above expectations and marked the sixth straight month prices have risen by at least 5% year-over-year. 


The metric is a proxy for purchasing power; higher inflation means consumers can buy fewer goods with each dollar they spend (see 101). Food (up 6% year-over-year) and energy (up 33%) prices continue to be a main driver of the price spike; gasoline is up almost 60% since last November. Housing costs, which make up roughly one-third of the CPI, rose close to 4% over the year, the fastest since 2007. Experts continue to attribute the surge to pent-up consumer demand and supply chain bottlenecks as the pandemic winds down. 


See how the CPI is calculated here.

Assange Extradition

Britain's High Court ruled Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be extradited to the US to face charges related to publishing classified US intelligence documents. The ruling comes after the US appealed a lower court ruling barring his transfer, concluding Assange was at high risk for suicide if handed over. He faces 18 felony counts brought under the Espionage Act in May 2019. 


While Assange's WikiLeaks has a long history of publishing secret, sometimes classified, information typically obtained via hacks by third parties, the allegations relate specifically to a 2010-11 document dump of classified intelligence painting a bleak picture of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The vast majority of the documents were provided by former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was allegedly assisted by Assange in hacking a military computer.


The leak is considered one of the largest of US classified information in history, while advocates have called Assange's case a blow to press freedom. 

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Flare

> University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young wins Heisman Trophy; Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson finishes second (More) | New York City FC tops Portland Timbers in penalty kicks to win 2021 MLS Cup (More)


> Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu crowned 2021 Miss Universe; Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira is runner-up (More)


> Vicente Fernández, legendary Mexican musician and three-time Grammy winner, dies at 81 (More) | "Interview with the Vampire" author Anne Rice dies at 80 (More) | Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith dies of heart failure at 78 (More)

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Science & Technology

> Twitter account of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hacked, tweets India would begin accepting Bitcoin as legal tender (More)


> mRNA HIV vaccine shows promise in mice and primate studies; based on similar technology to COVID-19 vaccines, the shots were shown to spur high levels of virus-neutralizing antibodies (More)


> Machine learning enables visualization of light-induced changes to proteins that happen in quadrillionths of a second; advance allows modeling of processes ranging from photosynthesis to how the human eye works (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets up Friday (S&P 500 +1.0%, Dow +0.6%, Nasdaq +0.7%) despite inflation fears closing out best week since February; S&P 500 hits fresh all-time high (More)


> General Motors to build an electric vehicle battery factory in Lansing, Michigan; plant could approach $3B in cost and employ 1,700 people (More)


> CEO of digital mortgage firm Better.com to take time off after firing 900 employees on a Zoom call; company to conduct leadership assessment (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Supreme Court rules Texas' fetal heartbeat abortion ban may remain in effect, allows legal challenge to proceed with a narrowed scope (More) | See overview of law here (More)


> Fox News anchor Chris Wallace announces he will leave "Fox News Sunday," will reportedly move to rival CNN's streaming service; Wallace said the decision was to pursue opportunities beyond politics (More)


> Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visits the United Arab Emirates, the first such trip by an Israeli leader in country history; the two countries established diplomatic relations last year under the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords (More)



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Historybook: Diplomat George Shultz born (1920); HBD actor Dick Van Dyke (1925); HBD Jamie Foxx (1967); HBD Taylor Swift (1989); 10 new countries announced to join European Union (2002); Saddam Hussein captured by American forces (2003).


"You've got to dream a little bit if you're going to get somewhere."

- George Shultz

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