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Safer Water Won't Be Cheap, Officials Warn

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good Monday morning. It is Memorial Day, so we have two patriotic stories for you. In New Orleans, the National World War II Museum is working to preserve the memory and stories of the Greatest Generation before it leaves us. And in Illinois, meet the teacher responsible for making the eighth-grade class trip to Washington into a rite of passage. Have a great day.

In Today’s Brief

  • South: Fatal storms

  • Mexico: Avocado heists

  • Trump: Wild speech to Libertarians

  • Musk: AI supercomputer plans

  • Indy 500: Repeat winner

... and more

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Top Tips

1) At a cost

America's drinking water is about to become safer, but it will not necessarily be cheap.

  • Catch up: The Environmental Protection Agency established the first legally enforceable federal drinking water standard in April. The Biden Administration says the new rules will protect 100M people from exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAs or "forever chemicals." Those are compounds that do not naturally break down, gradually build up in the human body and have been connected to serious health issues.

  • Costly change: EPA testing has determined nearly 300 public systems nationwide violate the new standards. Experts think thousands more may also be out of PFA compliance. Only 11 states have pre-existing PFA rules, and the federal standards are stricter. The American Water Works Association is projecting it will cost $4B a year to get all systems in compliance with consumers facing significant water rate hikes to cover the charges — warnings echoed by local government officials across the country.

  • Big picture: Water providers have won multi-billion settlements with chemical giants and PFA manufacturers, but industry experts say those funds won't be enough to offset the anticipated future costs and consumers will be impacted. States have three years to test for PFAs in drinking water and then two years to begin corrective measures if high levels are detected. The EPA initially said it expected 6-10% of water systems to fall short of the standard.

2) Tragedy in Oceania

The United Nations believes almost 700 people perished after a landslide in Papua New Guinea.

  • What happened: A massive earthquake hit the South Pacific island nation in a remote region prone to landslides, causing a mountain to give way and devastate several farming villages. Over 150 buildings are believed to be buried, as well as health facilities and food gardens.

  • Death toll: The UN is estimating at least 670 people died, but that number will likely grow. Officials said the damage was far greater than initially expected and they had only recovered the remains of six victims as of yesterday. Over 1K people were evacuated as the ground remains unstable, threatening homes that still stand. Nearby roads are also obstructed, hindering aid and rescue crews.

  • More complications: Crews cannot travel at night for safety reasons and daylight hours are shorter as that part of the world enters winter. A violent dispute between two clans has also materialized on the route to the village; eight people have been killed in the fighting with over 30 buildings torched.

3) Uvalde lawsuit

The families of the victims of a 2022 school shooting in Texas are taking legal action against three major companies.

  • The filing: The lawsuit alleges Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, the maker of the AR-15 assault rifle and a video game manufacturer have culpability related to the Robb Elementary mass shooting in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers were killed and 17 others survived with injuries. The lawsuit was filed on Friday, the two-year anniversary of the incident.

  • The claims: The families assert Daniel Defense -- the gun maker -- partnered with video game production house Activision and Meta to market the AR-15 on social media and in the popular Call of Duty game series to underage boys. A lawyer representing the families said the shooter played a version of the game and made Instagram posts about weapons before buying the rifle when he turned 18 and carrying out the murders.

  • Big picture: The lawsuit is one of many filed by Uvalde families after they reached a $2M settlement with the city last week. The families have sued almost 100 Texas Department of Public Safety officers, as well as the Uvalde School District and several employees, including the then-principal and then-school district police chief. The families have also indicated they will sue the federal government.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Over a dozen people died after powerful storms tore through the southern region of the country. At least 18 deaths were reported in Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas; homes and a truck stop were destroyed (More)

  • A man stabbed six people in two seemingly random attacks at a movie theater and a McDonald's in Massachusetts. The victims range from 9-29 and their wounds are not life-threatening; the suspect was taken into custody after a police chase and is believed to have ties to a Connecticut murder probe (More)

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin briefly transferred his powers to undergo a medical procedure. He continues to deal with bladder issues related to a prostate cancer diagnosis; Austin was criticized last year for not initially disclosing his condition (More)

World News

  • Armed highway bandits stole over 40T of avocados in Mexico. Freight trucks carrying the shipments were ambushed in separate incidents in the state of Michoacan, the country's top producer of the fruit (More)

  • Another international flight experienced severe turbulence that led to injuries. Eight people were hospitalized after a Qatar Airlines flight from Doha to Dublin hit rough air over Turkey; the flight made it to Ireland and was not diverted (More)

  • Russia attacked a civilian hardware store in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Almost 20 people were killed; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend an upcoming peace summit (More)

Campaign News

  • Former President Donald Trump pledged to put a Libertarian in his cabinet if re-elected during an address to the party's national convention. Trump was booed and sparred with the crowd during the speech; independent presidential Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also met resistance at the event as former Georgia House candidate Chase Oliver secured the party’s nomination (More)

  • Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz said suggestions President Biden should drop his re-election bid are "ridiculous." Political analyst Nate Silver recently said the president should leave the Democratic ticket if his poll numbers do not improve (More)

  • Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman will support Trump's campaign. The billionaire private equity and real estate titan said he will donate to the former president and Republican Senate candidates (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed higher on Friday. The Nasdaq was up almost 200 points (Dow +0.01%, Nasdaq +1.10%, S&P 500 +0.70%).

  • Elon Musk's artificial intelligence startup xAI is planning to build a supercomputer. The billionaire businessman reportedly told investors the firm may partner with Oracle; he plans to have the supercomputer up and running by next year (More)

  • Benetton Group's Luciano Benetton is stepping down as chairman of the Italian fashion company. It was the 89-year-old co-founder's second stint in the position; the brand has lost over $100M under the management team he appointed (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Josef Newgarden won the Indianapolis 500 for the second straight year, edging out second-place finisher Pato O’Ward. Newgarden is the first repeat champion since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02 (More)

  • Anora won the Palme d'Or, the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie is about an exotic dancer in a relationship with the son of a Russian oligarch (More)

  • Professional golfer Grayson Murray died of suicide at 30. The two-time PGA Tour winner abruptly withdrew from a tournament with an unspecified illness; he had publicly discussed mental and physical health struggles (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Feel Good: A woman lost her engagement ring riding a train in New York City, realizing it was gone at Grand Central Station. The MTA and NYPD sprung into action, tracked her train to Brooklyn and miraculously found the ring.

  • Big Oops: Some kids believed they were collecting seashells on a family outing to California's Pismo Beach. Nope, they were improperly grabbing clams, leading to their mom getting hit with an $88K fine. There is a somewhat happy ending, though: An understanding judge knocked the penalty down to $500.

  • Go Deep: You can hear yourself blink in the world's quietest place. You don't have to go to a far-flung corner of the globe to get there, either -- it's a scientifically designed room at Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis.

  • Take Note: Many of us will spend today outside having fun. Research shows that when we feel stressed at work or with life later this week, we should head right back out into the fresh air.

  • Life Hack: There are close to 2M offerings available in Apple's app store according to the most recent accounting, and double that in Google's Android store. Here are a few that experts say can actually improve your life.

  • 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 …

Former President Trump's GOP critics do not plan on attending the party's convention this summer in Milwaukee. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney are among the confirmed skips; others remain undecided.

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