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Inflation Going in Wrong Direction

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good morning and happy Thursday. Do you ever wish there was more time in the day? A mayor in Norway's Arctic region is petitioning the European Commission to allow a new time zone where days are 26 hours long. Go figure. Have a great day!

In Today’s Brief

  • Philadelphia: Eid al-Fitr shooting

  • Assange: Charges may be dropped

  • Veepstakes: Billionaire wants Scott

  • TikTok: Congressional leeway?

  • Ohtani: Ex-interpreter in plea talks

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Still sizzling

The long road to interest rate cuts just got longer.

  • The numbers: Inflation was up 3.5% YoY and 0.4% MoM in March, according to yesterday's consumer price index report. The YoY number was 0.3% higher than expected, generating more doubt about when -- and if -- the Federal Reserve will be able to cut rates.

  • State of play: The central bank has signaled it will only consider rate cuts once it sees significant progress toward its goal of 2% inflation. The economy is now going in the wrong direction. Major indexes closed down down (Dow Jones -1.09%, Nasdaq -0.84%, S&P 500 -0.95%) on the news.

  • Big picture: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has said politics will not drive decisions. But any action (or lack thereof) will inevitably become a major focus in the presidential race.

2) Drawing closer

The U.S. and Japan are teaming up in a big way.

  • Military pact: President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged a new era of strategic cooperation at the White House yesterday. The enhanced partnership is designed to push back on Chinese influence in the Pacific, including upgraded joint security programs.

  • To the moon: The leaders also announced plans for two Japanese astronauts to participate in NASA's return to the moon, scheduled for 2026. One of the astronauts will become the first non-American to step on the lunar surface.

  • More to come: Japan may also begin participating in the AUKUS defense project with Australia and the United Kingdom. Biden and Kishida are scheduled to hold a trilateral summit with Phillippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. today; Marcos' country has had naval clashes with the Chinese in recent weeks.

3) Grand impact

As goes Arizona, so goes the nation?

  • The situation: The Copper State has become a microcosm for American politics. It was already a critical presidential swing state with a contentious Senate race that could decide the balance of power in the upper chamber, but a controversial court decision to reinstate a pre-statehood abortion ban has raised the stakes.

  • The fallout: Former President Donald Trump criticized the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling that an 1860s near-total abortion ban should be law and pledged he would never sign a national abortion ban. But Trump has previously called for one and continues to boast he is responsible for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Republican Senate Candidate Kari Lake has also criticized the ruling as she runs against Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego.

  • Big picture: The renewed abortion debate emphasizes the challenge Trump and Lake -- who is trying to pivot to the center after denying the election results of her failed gubernatorial race in 2022 -- face with moderate voters and the right flank of their party. Trump needs Arizona's 11 electoral votes in November while the Gallego-Lake winner could be the 51st vote in the new Senate.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Three people were shot at a Eid al-Fitr festival to mark the end of Ramadan in Philadelphia. Five people were in custody, police said; there was an alleged dispute between two groups (More)

  • Consumer Reports has asked the USDA to remove Lunchables from the National School Lunch Program. The advocacy group said the food product has high sodium and heavy metal counts (More)

  • Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to threaten the job security of Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. The two met yesterday, but little progress was made; Greene has not yet forced a vote on a motion to vacate (More)

World News

  • President Biden said the U.S. may drop espionage charges against Julian Assange. Australia has requested the Wikileaks founder, currently incarcerated in the UK, be allowed to return to his home country (More)

  • Israel said it would launch a direct attack on Iran if the Iranians retaliate for a recent airstrike on their embassy in Syria. The U.S. reportedly believes a response by Iran or its proxies is imminent (More)

  • Canada is preparing for another significant wildfire season after historic blazes last year. A warmer-than-typical winter has left the ground dry, among other risk factors (More)

Campaign News

  • Billionaire Larry Ellison wants former President Trump to select South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott as his potential Vice President. The Oracle co-founder backed Scott's failed presidential bid; Ellison may fund Trump's campaign if he picks Scott (More)

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra may run for governor in California. He was previously the state's Attorney General from 2017-21 and also served in the House (More)

  • Independent presidential candidate Cornel West tabbed Melina Abdullah as his running mate. Abdullah is a college professor, racial justice advocate and an original Black Lives Matter member (More)

Business & Markets

  • Congress may give TikTok's Chinese parent company more time to divest the social media app if it passes legislation to force a sale. Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell said the six-month deadline voted by the House could be extended to a year (More)

  • Trump Media's share price has dropped over 50% since it began trading late last month. The social media company's market capitalization has slid below $5B; the value of former President Trump's equity has fallen over $2B (More)

  • Foxconn is considering a rotating chief executive system to nurture future talent. The Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer supplies Apple and other major tech companies (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, is reportedly in talks to plead guilty to stealing Ohtani's money to pay gambling debts. The New York Times reports federal prosecutors have evidence Mizuhara hid his multi-million theft from the Los Angeles Dodgers star (More)

  • The NHL's Arizona Coyotes could relocate to Salt Lake City as soon as next season. The league is preparing a contingency plan as the franchise struggles to build a new arena in the Phoenix area (More)

  • Disney said it had a First Amendment right to fire The Mandalorian's Gina Carano for offensive social media posts. The entertainment giant filed to dismiss Carano's unlawful termination lawsuit; billionaire Elon Musk is paying her legal fees (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Feel Good: In 1978, a ninth-grade teacher near Rochester, New York, began telling his students they would have a party to watch Monday's solar eclipse. Guess what? They had that party. 

  • Go Deep: Younger generations are dealing with what many consider a mental health epidemic. One controversial psychologist thinks cell phones are to blame.

  • Green Thumb: Many people are beginning preparations for their summertime garden. Some crops are more climate-friendly to grow than others.

  • Take Note: If you have ever wondered whether butter is healthier than margarine (or vice versa) ... here is everything you need to know.

  • Life Hack: A new study found a simple tactic can reduce rage. All you have to do is write down what is upsetting and then tear it up.

  • OPTIMIZE ME: Researchers “found convincing evidence that higher intake of ultra-processed foods was associated with 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48% to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes”

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Looking Ahead …

Trillions of cicadas will appear in a large swath of the U.S. starting next month as two separate broods have a rare synchronized emergence. This map shows where the loud bugs will be this summer.

Question of the Day

Should the U.S. drop the Julian Assange charges?

Choose one ...

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Yesterday’s results:

Does it matter to you if Biden and Trump (and maybe RFK Jr.) debate?

  • Yes, it is the bare minimum for a serious candidate (37%)

  • No, it will be a useless spectacle no matter what (30%)

  • No, my decision is made and won't change (23%)

  • Yes, it will inform my vote (10%)