1.13.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Jan. 13, and we're covering a presidential document dilemma, progress in the fight against cancer, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Biden Document Discoveries

Attorney General Merrick Garland yesterday appointed a special counsel to investigate the handling of an unidentified number of improperly stored classified documents from President Joe Biden's time as vice president. The decision comes after officials confirmed a second batch of documents had been found at Biden's personal residence in Wilmington, Delaware. 

 

The find follows news that similar, improperly stored classified documents had been found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC. The first batch of records was found Nov. 2—but only disclosed publicly earlier this week. Biden officials said all documents had been turned over to the relevant authorities; House Republicans have launched an investigation into the matter. 

 

The revelations come amid an ongoing probe into the handling of presidential records by former President Donald Trump. A reported 33 boxes or containers, including roughly 100 classified documents, were retrieved during an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in August.

 

Officials have yet to reveal details regarding the content in the records previously held by either Biden or Trump. 

 

Inflation (Slowly) Slows

US inflation rose 6.5% year-over-year in December, according to figures released yesterday, meeting analyst expectations and marking a drop from 7.1% in November. While reflecting increased costs over a 12-month period, the figure marks a 0.1% drop in the seasonally adjusted consumer price index from November. It also marks the slowest annual rate of inflation since October 2021 (see data). 

 

The decline in the index—a measure of inflation that tracks the change in prices of a basket of goods and services (see 101)—was driven primarily by decreases in the cost of energy. Gasoline prices dropped 9.4% from November and were down 1.5% year-over-year. The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 5.7% year-over-year, down from 6% the previous month. 

 

The data come on top of a continuing strong labor market, with December unemployment reported at 3.5%, the lowest in five decades. 

 

Cancer Deaths Plummet

Deaths from all types of cancer in the US fell by an estimated 33% since 1991, saving a cumulative 3.8 million lives, according to a report released yesterday by the American Cancer Society. Progress was attributed to improvements in cancer treatment, early detection, and significant drops in smoking.

 

Lung, breast, and colorectal cancers account for the highest number of deaths in women. However, cervical cancer rates have dropped 65% among women ages 20-24 from 2012-19, largely credited to the introduction of the human papillomavirus or HPV vaccine. For men, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers are the deadliest. The report highlighted a 3% increase in prostate cancer from 2014-19, driven by an increase in advanced disease diagnosis. To combat the rise, ACS announced an initiative to increase access to screening and treatment for prostate cancer.

 

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the US, with more than 1.9 million people expected to be diagnosed with cancer resulting in an estimated 610,000 deaths this year. See the full report here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" sells 1.4 million copies in the US, the UK, and Canada in its first day, a nonfiction first-day record for publisher Penguin Random House (More) | Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis' daughter and former spouse of Michael Jackson, dies at 54 (More)

> Tonight's Mega Millions lottery jackpot reaches $1.35B, the fourth largest lotto jackpot in US history (More) | Here's how to improve your 1 in 300 million odds of winning (More)

> The 2023 NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with wild card matchups (More) | See complete playoff bracket and schedule (More) | Angel City FC makes Alyssa Thompson first high schooler selected with top pick in NWSL draft (More)

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Science & Technology

> Swiss climate tech startup becomes first to commercially demonstrate the removal and underground storage of CO2 from the open air; Climeworks uses the technology to sell carbon offsets to the private sector (More)

> Largest-known flower encased in amber found to be between 34 million and 38 million years old, related to modern-day species in Asia; identification came after scientists successfully extracted and tested its pollen (More)

> Genetic repair mechanisms fail during the creation of sperm in older males; new study in fruit flies sheds light on why older fathers tend to pass on more genetic mutations than younger fathers (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.3%, Dow +0.6%, Nasdaq +0.6%) after consumer price index reading shows cooling inflation (More)

> FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried claims he did not misappropriate $8B in user funds in newsletter post (More)

> JPMorgan sues founder of financial aid platform it acquired for $175M for alleged fraud, claims a majority of accounts were fake accounts created by the founder (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> At least six people dead after tornado rips through central Alabama, including the historic city of Selma (More) | See drone footage of damage (More)

> Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) tapped to replace recently departed Sen. Ben Sasse (R), who left the US Senate to lead the University of Florida (More)

> Intense California storms provide near-term elimination of extreme drought conditions across the entire state (More) | See US drought map (More) | At least 18 deaths, $1B in damage reported from consecutive storms (More)

 

In-Depth

> Recycling Human Sewage

JSTOR Daily | Lina Zeldovich. Our excrement, while repugnant, is also loaded with nutrients. Can we make better use of it? (Read)

 

> Herman Wrice's War

City Journal | Charles Lehman. How the activism of Philadelphia community leader Herman Wrice tackled the city's crippling drug trade with old school tactics. (Read)

> Why Do We Need Sadness?

BBC | Bella Mackie, Greg James. (Podcast) The show hosts of "Teach Me a Lesson" ask teachers to explain the purpose of tears, the saddest animal in the world, and more. (Listen

 

> Lessons From the 1973 Energy Crisis

Economist | Staff. As the war in Ukraine complicates global energy supplies, historians and policy experts draw lessons from a similar debacle 50 years ago. (Watch)

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Etcetera
 

Why we're addicted to coining terms about work.

 

Friday the 13th is one history's persistent memes

 

... but some people still have paraskevidekatriaphobia.

 

Nine-year-old Maryland girl finds 15-million-year-old megalodon tooth.

 

UFO sightings are on the rise.

 

Marketing firm rolls out AI-powered interns.

 

Fabulous photos of polar bears enjoying summer flowers.

 

Ohio man backflips through a sobriety test. (w/video)

 

Clickbait: Dancers flash mob a funeral.

 

Historybook: Author James Joyce dies (1941); Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus born (1961); Robert C. Weaver becomes first Black US cabinet member (1966); Douglas Wilder becomes first elected Black US governor (1990); 32 die as cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off coast of Italy (2012).

"Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end."

- James Joyce

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