5.15.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 15, and we're covering increased tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, a hunt for armed fugitives in France, and much more. First time reading? Join over 3.5 million readers. Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

US Targets Chinese Exports 

The Biden administration announced increased tariffs yesterday on Chinese products, the latest expansion of US duties on goods manufactured in the world's second-largest economy. Imports of electric vehicles will see the steepest increase in tariffs, quadrupling from 25% to 100%. Former President Donald Trump first implemented heightened tariffs on solar panels, metals, and more in 2018 (see tracker). 

 

Tariffs are taxes—typically collected as a percentage of the good's value—placed on importers of foreign goods, often designed to protect consumers from low-quality goods or manufacturers from cheaper foreign competition (see 101). Economists claim the cost of tariffs is often passed on to domestic consumers. 

 

US and global officials have argued China artificially lowers the price of its exports with subsidies to undercut domestic sellers. China produces one-third of the world's manufactured goods and exports roughly $500B in goods to the US annually. The new tariffs are slated to apply to roughly 2% of those exports. Learn more about China's manufacturing here

 

Fugitives Free 'The Fly'

A search is underway in northern France for armed assailants who killed two prison officers and wounded three others in an ambush on a prison van, freeing a 30-year-old inmate and drug dealer known as "The Fly." The incident marks the first time on-duty prison workers have been killed in France since 1992. 

 

The prison van was transporting inmate Mohamed Amra from a courthouse to a jail in the Normandy region when the hooded assailants—arriving in two vehicles—rammed into the van near an expressway toll booth and opened fire. Amra was serving an 18-month prison sentence for aggravated robbery. He also faces charges of kidnapping and drug-related homicide in the southern port city of Marseille. The number of assailants is unclear; the fugitives remain at large as of this writing. 

 

The ambush came the same day a French Senate committee report found drug-related crimes are spreading across France, igniting gang wars. In March, anti-drug trafficking operations were launched in 10 cities, including France's second-largest city of Marseille, considered a hub for drug-related crimes.

 

Cannes Kicks Off

The 77th Cannes Film Festival kicked off yesterday, with 22 films vying for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. Greta Gerwig leads the competition jury—the first American woman director to do so—who will award the winner at the end of the festival.

 

The ceremony opened with actress Meryl Streep receiving an honorary lifetime achievement Palme d'Or and the showing of the opening film, Quentin Dupieux's "The Second Act." Other highly anticipated films include George Miller's "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" and Francis Ford Coppola's "Megalopolis." Director George Lucas is slated to receive an honorary Palme d'Or at the closing ceremony. See a preview of all films here.

 

Off-screen, the festival faces topical issues, including the threat of a strike by seasonal workers over unemployment benefits and the reemergence of the French film industry's #MeToo movement.

 

The festival will run through May 25. Take a look at the prestigious Palme d'Or (or "golden palm") here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with NativePath

> The 2024 WNBA season kicks off; see biggest storylines (More) | ... and season predictions (More) | NFL's regular season schedule released tonight (8 pm ET, NFL Network) (More)

> Alice Munro, Nobel Prize-winning short story writer, dies at 92 (More) | Filmmaker Roman Polanski acquitted in French court of defaming actress who accused Polanski of sexual assault (More)

> George Clooney to debut on Broadway in spring 2025 in stage adaptation of "Good Night, and Good Luck" (More) | Pop culture edition of "Jeopardy!" tapped for Amazon Prime Video (More)

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Science & Technology

> Google reveals Project Astra, an AI-powered app that can answer queries based on an object in the camera's field of vision (More) | See all updates from Google I/O conference (More)

> Climate analysis finds 2023 was the warmest summer in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 2,000 years; tree ring analysis was used to supplement instrumental evidence, which dates back to 1850 (More) | How tree ring analysis provides climate data (More)

> Human embryos primarily develop from only one of two cells created during the first division of a fertilized egg, while the second cell develops into the yolk sac; discovery expected to help improve in-vitro fertilization treatments (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.5%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq +0.8%) despite news of higher-than-expected wholesale prices in April, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell comments indicating interest rates to remain steady (More)

> Boeing allegedly violated a 2021 settlement that allowed the company to avoid criminal prosecution over deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019 involving its 737 Max aircraft, US Justice Department says in court filing (More

> UK mining firm Anglo American plans to spin off or sell diamond company De Beers as it works to fend off $43B takeover bid from Australian rival BHP Group (More) | Walmart to lay off hundreds of corporate employees, require majority of remote workers to return to office most days (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report on March 26 collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge reveals tripping of electrical breakers on cargo vessel Dali caused propeller to shut down before impact; vessel lost power four times within the 12 hours before crash (More) | See full report (More)

> Michael Cohen, ex-personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump, is cross-examined by defense in hush money trial; see takeaways (More) | House Speaker Mike Johnson (R, LA-4) appears at Manhattan courthouse to support Trump (More)

> US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Kyiv to reiterate US support for Ukraine as Russian airstrikes hit second-largest city of Kharkiv (More) | See war updates (More) | Georgian parliament passes bill protesters say mimics 2012 Russian law to crack down on dissidents; president expected to veto (More)

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Etcetera
 

The planet 1,200 light-years away as dense as cotton candy.

 

The US and Australia unveil remotely operated underwater drones.

 

See the first official portrait of King Charles since his coronation

 

Why do people get brain freeze?

 

Portuguese street artist uses explosives to carve walls. (w/video)

 

Woman honored for fending off crocodile to save her sister.

 

Why "stat" means immediately, and its Latin origins.

 

Dolly Parton and Krispy Kreme unveil new doughnuts

 

Clickbait: Punxsutawney Phil's groundhog baby names.

 

Historybook: National Woman Suffrage Association founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1869); Poet Emily Dickinson dies (1886); Mickey Mouse makes first cartoon appearance (1928); Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright born (1937); Soviet Union begins withdrawal of 115,000 troops from Afghanistan (1988).

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