Inflation, Twitter Whistleblower, and a Fluffy Psychopath Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Sept. 14, and we're covering the latest US inflation report, the congressional testimony of a Twitter whistleblower, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].


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Caucasus Conflict Reignites

Fighting along the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted early Tuesday, leaving close to 100 combatants dead in the worst violence of the decadeslong conflict since a 2020 war. Azerbaijan acknowledged it launched artillery strikes in the south through the day, with reports claiming Azerbaijani soldiers were advancing into Armenia despite a morning cease-fire brokered by Russia. 


The latest friction is a continuation of a conflict over borders since the Soviet collapse in the 1980s, with each nation looking to control the majority-Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region located within the UN-recognized borders of Azerbaijan (see background). Russia, Armenia's formal ally, has effectively mediated the conflict before, but with its preoccupation with recent losses in Ukraine, some analysts argue Azerbaijan currently has a strong advantage (see expert thread).


Both Russia and the European Union have upped their dependence on Azerbaijan as a result of the war in Ukraine, possibly emboldening Azerbaijan to further chip away at Armenian boundaries, according to regional analysts. See a visual explainer of the conflict here

US Inflation Rises

US inflation rose 8.3% year-over-year in August, a 0.1% increase over July after analysts predicted inflation would fall slightly. The growth is primarily driven by price increases in shelter (+0.7%), food (+0.8%), and medical care (+0.8%). The food index, rising 11.4% year-over-year, presents the highest increase since May 1979. Sharp declines in gas prices (-10.6%) and energy (-5%) helped to offset the increases. See data in charts here.


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% last month or 6.3% year-over-year. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve to continue aggressively raising interest rates, with a meeting scheduled next week.


US stock markets saw the largest one-day losses since June 11, 2020, with the Nasdaq down 5.2% at close, the S&P 500 down 4.3%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 3.9%.

Twitter Whistleblower Testifies

Twitter's former security head Peiter "Mudge" Zatko appeared before a congressional Senate committee yesterday, testifying against the social network's alleged widespread security flaws, which he claims put users' sensitive data at risk.

Zatko reiterated that foreign agents working for China and other governments may be employed at Twitter and the company violated a 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. See allegations here; see testimony here


Separately, Twitter shareholders voted to approve Tesla CEO Elon Musk's proposed $44B buyout for $54.20 per share—a figure that is higher than the current price of about $42. Musk, however, is attempting to cancel the transaction after accusing Twitter of making false statements about spam accounts on its platform. The billionaire has also cited Zatko's complaint in his challenge. A Delaware court will ultimately decide the fate of the deal, with a trial beginning Oct. 17. 


Congress in recent years has scrutinized how social media companies track, use, and protect consumer data.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Las Vegas Aces top Connecticut Sun 85-71 to take 2-0 lead in WNBA Finals (More) | Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver suspended one year, fined $10M following investigation into workplace conduct (More)


> Jean-Luc Godard, pioneering film director, dies at 91 by assisted suicide in Switzerland (More) | Ramsey Lewis, three-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist, dies at 87 (More)


> The 2022 Emmy Awards draw record low of 5.9 million viewers, a 25% drop from last year's broadcast (More)

Science & Technology

> NASA further delays next attempt to launch its uncrewed Artemis 1 lunar mission, now targeting Sept. 27 with a backup date of Oct. 2 (More)


> Coniferous trees, such as pines and redwoods, communicate with each other while under attack by insects by releasing airborne chemicals, new study finds (More)


> New map analysis suggests the existence of now-vanished islands referenced in Welsh folklore; study was based on the 650-year-old Gough map, noted for its break with theologically based cartography techniques of the time (More) | Read more about the Gough map (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US household income remains stagnant for second year in a row, with median US income of $70,784 in 2021 (More)


> US bank deposits fell by a record $370B in the second quarter, the first decline since 2018 (More)


> JPMorgan executive says company’s Q3 investment banking advisory revenues are on track for 45%-50% declines over same period last year (More)

From our partners: Five money tips to make in 2022. Experts at The Ascent say to consider these six moves to grow your wealth in 2022. And they've got a track record, because they've been helping people like you since 1993. Learn more today.

Politics & World Affairs

> Ukrainian officials say forces have retaken the northeastern town of Vovchansk, located 2 miles from the Russian border, which had been occupied by Russian forces since February (More) | See updates on Ukraine's counteroffensive here (More)


> West Virginia lawmakers approve bill prohibiting abortions in nearly all cases, with allowances for medical emergencies, sexual assault, and other exceptions (More)


> Queen Elizabeth II's coffin arrives in London after traveling from Scotland; funeral ceremonies scheduled for Sept. 19 (More) | Ken Starr, investigator who led probe partially responsible for the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, dies at age 76 (More)



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Historybook: President William McKinley dies of gunshot wounds (1901); Soviet probe Luna 2 becomes the first human-made object to reach the moon (1959); OPEC, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is founded (1960); Actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly dies (1982); Singer Amy Winehouse born (1983).


"Everything has to be earned, through work, persistence, and honesty."

- Princess Grace Kelly

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