Happy Friday! To be a Bears fan is to willingly subject yourself to decades of agonizing psychological torment knowing full well there is no hope of reprieve. We wouldn’t wish this life upon our worst enemy.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday the Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent from August to September, while increasing at an annual rate of 8.2 percent—a slight decrease from last month’s year-over-year rate of 8.3 percent. Increases in the cost of food and shelter in September were somewhat mitigated by falling energy prices, but energy prices have begun rising again since the data was collected. Markets dropped when the report was published, but rallied to end the day up between 2 and 3 percent.
- The Social Security Administration announced Thursday Social Security recipients will receive an 8.7 percent boost in benefits in 2023, the largest such cost-of-living adjustment in more than four decades. Beginning in January, per the announcement, the average Social Security recipient will receive an extra $140 per month.
- Russian forces on Thursday continued their onslaught on civilian targets across Ukraine, attacking cities from Kyiv to Mykolaiv with missiles and Iranian “kamikaze” drones. After NATO defense ministers met on Thursday, the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced member countries will deliver Ukraine drone jammers and other munitions. France and the United Kingdom pledged to provide Ukraine with air defense systems in the coming weeks, to better protect the country from Russian strikes.
- North Korea launched yet another short-range ballistic missile into the sea this morning, according to South Korea and Japan’s defense ministries. The test reportedly came after 10 North Korean war planes flew near the country’s border with South Korea, causing Seoul to scramble its fighter jets and carry out a “proportional response maneuver.”
- In an unsigned order from which no justice dissented, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected former President Donald Trump’s appeal of a late-September decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that had prohibited a special master from reviewing approximately 100 documents with classification markings seized from Mar-a-Lago—and allowed federal agents to continue using the documents in their ongoing criminal investigation.
- Five people were shot and killed during an active shooter situation that locked down a neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina, yesterday, with two others injured and transported to a nearby hospital. Raleigh Police Lt. Jason Borneo told reporters a young man is in custody, and additional information will be provided today.
- A jury in Florida on Thursday opted against the death penalty for the now-24-year-old gunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018, sentencing him instead to life in prison without parole. Under Florida law, a jury must vote unanimously to condemn someone to death, so mitigating factors—the shooter’s alleged fetal alcohol syndrome and childhood abuse—convinced at least one juror a life sentence was more appropriate.
- American College Testing published a report Wednesday showing the national average ACT score for the high school class of 2022 was 19.8, the lowest level in more than 30 years. A whopping 42 percent of graduating students met none of the ACT’s four college readiness benchmarks, up from 38 percent in 2021. “This is the fifth consecutive year of declines in average scores, a worrisome trend that began long before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has persisted,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said. “They are further evidence of longtime systemic failures that were exacerbated by the pandemic.”
- A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology this week found that Paxlovid—Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral therapy—should not be taken concurrently with several commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications, as co-administration could potentially cause significant drug-drug interactions and may lead to severe adverse effects. Their conclusions—that Paxlovid should be avoided when potentially interacting cardiovascular medications cannot be safely interrupted—are based on drug-drug interaction data and not specific adverse events that have been reported.
- Separately, Pfizer and BioNTech reported Thursday that, according to early Phase 2/3 clinical trial data, their updated bivalent COVID-19 booster generates a robust immune response against the BA.4/BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
- The average number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States declined about 18 percent over the past two weeks according to CDC data, while the average number of daily deaths attributed to the virus—a lagging indicator—fell 13 percent. About 21,100 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, down from approximately 23,600 two weeks ago. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on Thursday extended the country’s COVID-19 public health emergency another 90 days, despite President Joe Biden declaring last month that “the pandemic is over.”
- The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—rose by 9,000 week-over-week to a seasonally adjusted 228,000 last week, the highest level in more than a month. Still, the measure remains near historic lows, signaling the labor market—though cooling—continues to be tight.
A Website Update
It’s been a busy few days at Dispatch HQ since we launched our new website, and we want to thank our members for all the patience you’ve shown us and encouragement you’ve sent our way. We’ve learned a lot over the past few months as we worked with developers to design and build this new tech stack—and we’ve learned even more over the past 48 hours!
We appreciate the constructive feedback many of you have shared with us this week—we’re taking your emails and comments to heart. This was always going to be an iterative process, and we’re hard at work making improvements—particularly to newsletter design and delivery and the comment section. We’re confident that when it’s all done, you’ll agree we’ve made things better and that the hiccups along the way were worth it. Thanks for bearing with us.