5.12.2022

Inflation, Drug Overdoses, and the Baby Formula Shortage Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, May 12, and we're covering a (slow) slowdown in inflation, another year of record drug overdose deaths in the US, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

NEED TO KNOW

 

Inflation Slows (Slightly)

US inflation rose 8.3% year-over-year in April, slightly above expectations and near the 40-year high of 8.5% in March (see historical data). The relatively small drop marks the first month-over-month decrease in the inflation growth rate since August, with the consumer price index rising 0.3% in April, compared to 1.2% in March.

 

The consumer price index is a proxy for inflation that tracks the price of a basket of goods and services. Higher inflation means consumers can buy fewer goods with each dollar they spend (see 101). The core consumer price index, which removes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.6% on a monthly basis in April, up twice as much as 0.3% in March. The increases were fueled by the costs of housing, airline fare, and new vehicles (see breakdown).

 

The continued rise in prices means real earnings have dropped 2.6% over the past year, despite average hourly earnings rising 5.5%. Data suggest yearly inflation likely peaked in March but will remain high through 2023. 

US Overdose Record

More than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, according to government findings released yesterday. The preliminary tally is the highest on record and 15% higher than the previous year. 

 

Overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2015, fueled by the increasing prevalence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid roughly 50 times more potent than heroin (how it works, w/video). Fentanyl was responsible for two-thirds of total deaths, while heroin accounted for less than 10%—a figure that has steadily dropped as the use of illicit synthetic opioids has risen. Deaths involving stimulants such as meth rose by 34% to around 33,000.

 

Only three states reported year-over-year decreases—New Hampshire, Maryland, and Hawaii. See data here.

Residential School Abuse

Native American children at more than 400 boarding schools across the US suffered physical and sexual abuse, solitary confinement, malnourishment, and more, in the decades spanning 1819 to 1969. The findings, released in a federal report yesterday, also concluded a number of the schools were responsible for the deaths of at least 500 children, uncovering roughly 50 burial sites. Officials expect the numbers to increase; read the 106-page report here.

 

The federal residential school system was designed to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream American society (see history). The schools often utilized militaristic approaches in an effort to overwrite native identities, the report concluded, though the practices were subject to little oversight. The analysis is the first comprehensive historical review of the school system.

 

The study comes a year after similar findings in Canada, where more than 200 burial sites for Indigenous children were discovered at a residential school in British Columbia that closed in 1978.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> LeBron James ($126M) and Lionel Messi ($122M) lead list of 2022's highest-paid athletes; Naomi Osaka ($53M) is top-earning female athlete (More) | Osaka launches her own sports agency (More)

 

> Five extra witnesses to testify against Harvey Weinstein at his upcoming rape trial; actresses Rose McGowan and Daryl Hannah were excluded from testifying (More)

 

> Bob Lanier, basketball Hall of Famer and eight-time NBA All-Star, dies at 73 (More) | Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic officially announced as NBA MVP; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid finished second (More)

Science & Technology

In partnership with Dirty Labs

> Cerebrospinal fluid from young mice shown to improve memory in old mice, a potential breakthrough in treating age-related cognitive decline (More)

 

> Google holds annual developer conference, unveils new features including an immersive Google Maps that combines street and aerial views (More) | See more announcements (More)

 

> Study links cleaner air to more frequent hurricanes; a 50% decrease in particulate pollution led to a 33% increase in Atlantic storm formation over the past few decades (More)

From our partners: The future of laundry detergents. Created by a team of chemists and environmentalists, Dirty Labs' powerful enzyme-driven cleaning technology—Phytolase®—promises cleaning performance on par or better than conventional laundry detergents, while (somehow) being both biodegradable and safer than your average shampoo. Today, Dirty Labs is giving 1440 readers a special offer: 20% off your first order with code 1440!

Business & Markets

> US stock markets fall (S&P 500 -1.7%, Dow -1.0%, Nasdaq -3.2%) after April inflation remains high (More) | Oil giant Saudi Aramco passes Apple as world’s most valuable public company (More)

 

> Disney reports stronger than expected streaming growth; company has 137 million total subscribers (More) | Beyond Meat shares fall over 20% in after-hours trading on growing losses, stock now lower than initial public offering price (More)

 

> Television production company Banijay to IPO via special purpose acquisition company valuing company at 7.2 billion euros, would be Europe’s largest SPAC to date (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Ukraine holds first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier (More) | Ukraine shuts down sections of gas pipeline network carrying Russian gas to Europe (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

 

> Senate bill codifying abortion protections fails 49-51 on procedural vote; all 50 Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) voted against the bill (More)

 

> Surfside, Florida, condo collapse victims to receive nearly $1B following class-action lawsuit; 98 people were killed when a portion of the 12-story building fell in June (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

Uncanny Valley

Dazed | Thom Waite. The introduction of celebrity (robotic) artist Ai-Da has ushered in ultra-realistic, AI-generated art. Even her makers harbor concerns over the impact on the future of creativity. (Read)

Is College Worth It?

Kite & Key | Staff. Data suggest what you study in college—and how long you take—often matters more than where you attend. (Watch)

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ETCETERA

 

Explaining the baby formula shortage.

 

The top craft breweries in every state.

 

Man wins $192,941 lottery prize using the number pi.

 

Texas traffic camera taken over by a red-tailed hawk family.

 

An archive of interviews with people who lived in the 1800s. (w/video)

 

Passenger with no experience lands plane after pilot emergency.

 

Actor superglues hand to Starbucks counter in plant-based milk protest.

 

The battle of New York City’s pool-sharing apps.

 

Clickbait: A T. rex crashes toddler’s birthday party. (warning—language)

 

Historybook: Modern nursing innovator Florence Nightingale born (1820); Actress Katharine Hepburn born (1907); Charles Lindbergh’s son found dead two months after being kidnapped (1932); HBD to some skateboarding legend nobody recognizes (1968); Ex-President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba, the first American president to visit since 1959 revolution (2002).

 

"If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased."

- Katharine Hepburn

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