5.3.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 3, and we're covering the arrest of a suspect in a Texas mass shooting, a nearly two-year low in US job openings, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Breaking news: Texas authorities have arrested a 38-year-old man suspected of shooting and killing five of his neighbors last week, following a multiday search. This is a developing story; read more here.

Need To Know
 

Job Vacancies Drop

US job openings dropped to 9.59 million in March, roughly 1.6 million fewer than in December, according to government data released yesterday. Analysts claim the figure—the lowest level in nearly two years—indicates the tight labor market is normalizing, which the Federal Reserve sees as a necessary step in reducing inflation (see explanation).

 

The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey—which is separate from the nonfarm payroll report and lags it by one month—saw hires remain even at 6.1 million, while layoffs increased to 1.8 million. The industries with the steepest declines in vacancies were transportation, warehousing, and utilities. The quits rate—or the number of workers opting to leave their job—also declined. See data here.

 

Since last year, the Fed has raised interest rates nine times as part of its dual mandate (see 101) to stabilize prices and maximize employment. The Fed is expected to raise rates again today, bringing the benchmark federal funds rate to a range of 5%-5.25%.  

 

Operation SpecTor

Authorities have arrested 288 people for trafficking fentanyl and opioids on the dark web over the last 18 months, in what is considered the largest global crackdown of its kind. Authorities also seized roughly 1,800 pounds of drugs, 117 firearms, and $53.4M in cash and virtual currencies, the US Justice Department announced yesterday.

 

The global effort, dubbed "Operation SpecTor," spanned across the US, Europe, and South America and centered on the online drug marketplace Monopoly Market. German authorities seized the marketplace in December 2021, which aided in identifying the nearly 300 vendors and buyers who were arrested. German and US authorities also shuttered Hydra Market, the dark web's once largest online marketplace for illicit goods and services, in April 2022.  

 

Of the total arrests, 153 took place in the US. Other arrests were made in the UK (55), Germany (52), the Netherlands (10), Austria (9), France (5), Switzerland (2), Poland (1), and Brazil (1). Officials pointed to networks operated by Mexico's Sinaloa and rival Jalisco cartels (see overview) as dominating the illicit US fentanyl market

 

Hollywood Writers Strike

The Writers Guild of America began a strike yesterday after talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. The 11,500-member WGA argues pay has not kept up with the rapid pace of two technological changes: the rise of streaming services and artificial intelligence.

 

The WGA argues streaming shows tend to have shorter seasons, meaning writers get paid less for each job, and residual income—royalties collected when shows are reaired—are much lower with streaming. The average writer-producer pay has declined by 23%, when adjusted for inflation, over the past decade. The WGA also wants AI safeguards, such as ensuring human involvement. The AMPTP rejected both demands with counterproposals. WGA’s proposals would gain writers a projected $429M per year, while the AMPTP’s counterproposal is an increase of about $86M. See all demands here.

 

Live late-night shows will be the first affected, followed by network TV. The WGA’s last strike occurred 15 years ago and lasted 100 days, resulting in a $2.1B loss to California’s economy.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid named 2022-23 NBA MVP; Embiid won the award for the first time after finishing second the last two seasons (More) | See latest playoff bracket (More)

> "Some Like It Hot" hauls in 13 nominations for 2023 Tony Awards; see full list of nominations (More)

> Super Bowl LVII drew more than 115 million viewers, making it the most-watched US-based telecast (More) | FIFA threatens broadcast blackout of Women's World Cup in five European countries if offers to broadcast the tournament aren't improved (More) | Snapchat announces content partnership for Women's World Cup and 2024 Olympics (More)

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Science & Technology

> Neuroscientists detect consciousness-like electrical signals in the brains of dying comatose patients; activity suggests a potential mechanism behind reports of near-death experiences (More)

> Mexico begins "cloud seeding" program in an effort to artificially generate more rain clouds amid ongoing drought (More)

> Researchers demonstrate technique that doubles the resolution of light microscopes by harnessing a quirk of entangled photons (More) | What is quantum entanglement or "action at a distance?" (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.2%, Dow -1.1%, Nasdaq -1.1%); Regional Banking ETF falls over 6% (More)

> Uber shares up 11% as company beats expectations and projects growth (More)

> Ford tops Q1 expectations (More) | Starbucks beats Q1 expectations (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) to meet next week ahead of projected June 1 debt limit deadline (More) | White House to send 1,500 troops to the US-Mexico border ahead of the end of a pandemic-era policy allowing rapid expulsion, which ends May 11 (More

> Oklahoma officials find seven people shot to death, including a convicted sex offender; discovery came as police searched for two missing teenagers, both of whom were reportedly among the victims (More)

> Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao found guilty for his role in the 2020 death of George Floyd; Thao, convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, will be sentenced in August (More)

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Etcetera
 

America's most expensive ZIP codes.

 

The US has a loneliness epidemic

 

See new portraits of Princess Charlotte as she turns 8

 

McDonald's designs takeout box that unfolds into a table

 

Feed koi fish from the comfort of your home.

 

Woman rotates foot 171.4 degrees, wins world record (w/photo).

 

Dumpster-diving bear scares school principal (w/video).

 

... and watch a dance of spinning ostriches

 

Clickbait: A reminder to delinquents to stop rescuing baby animals.

 

Historybook: Philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli born (1469); Boxer Sugar Ray Robinson born (1921); Musician James Brown born (1933); Margaret Mitchell wins Pulitzer for "Gone with the Wind" novel (1937); First bulk spam email is sent (1978). 

"To be a champ, you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will."

- Sugar Ray Robinson

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