- This hurricane season could be as bad as in 2005 with Katrina.
- Gas inventories are low and prices could reach $6 by end of summer.
- Biden invoked the Defence Production Act to address the baby formula shortage.
- The FDA authorized Pfizer’s booster shots for children 5-11. More free tests from the CDC.
- Switzerland inching closer to NATO. Finland and Sweden submitted their applications.
Conditions in the Gulf of Mexico are remarkably similar to those in 2005 that caused Katrina. Gulf water is already warmer than average this time of year and a current of warm tropical water is looping unusually far into the Gulf. If the Loop Current reaches this far north this early in hurricane season, it can spell disaster for people along the Northern Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida. The article linked to has a thorough analysis of why this matters, how hurricanes are formed, and how La Nina and climate change are affecting this season.
Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his Extreme Heat Action Plan to ensure California is prepared for the increasing heat and put $37.6 billion toward battling climate change.
The Fed strategy for lowering inflation seems to be working: Walmart and Target’s earnings slowed down, while people spend less on merchandise and more on experiences and travel. Target’s earnings, however, sparked the biggest sell-off on Wall Street and the Dow posted its biggest one-day drop since 2020.
Speaking of travel, JP Morgan thinks that revenge driving this summer could drive the cost of US gasoline up to $6 per gallon. But not everyone agrees. However, East Coast gasoline inventories are at their lowest level since 2011 and by the end of August, US gasoline inventories could fall below 160 million barrels, the lowest level since the 1950s. There’s one major wild card that could also raise gas prices: major hurricanes hitting refineries and oil platforms on the Gulf Coast. The government is supposed to release its hurricane outlook next week, so we’ll report on that later on.
Rents in the US just hit another record high and they are expected to keep rising. And a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that high house prices were fuelled by remote work. However, there are signs that the housing market is slowing down.
The UK is also facing record-high inflation (9%) and the possibility of a recession. Britain has the highest inflation among Europe’s big economies and likely of the G7, too (Canada and Japan still need to release their data). High energy bills are supposed to be the cause of such high inflation rates. One in four Britons skipped meals, and two in three didn’t use heating when they would normally do. Prices are expected to rise further in the next six months. The central bank is expected to raise its Bank Rate to 1%, the biggest increase since 2009.
Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up the production of formula, and authorized commercial planes contracted by the DoD to bring back Nestlé formula from Switzerland. The Access to Baby Formula Act would also allow WIC recipients to use vouchers to purchase formula from any producer rather than be limited to one brand that may be unavailable during a public health emergency or supply chain disruption. It’s still unclear how quickly these plans can help alleviate the shortages.
Baby formula scams. The US government is warning consumers of baby formula scams where people pay high prices, and the product never arrives.
Here’s a collection of tips from the FTC and from us to avoid scams:
- Use a search engine to check out the company or product. Use search terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Use a website or extension such as Fakespot.
- Only scammers will demand payment by gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency. Paying with a credit card often provides the most protection; you can sometimes get your money back if you ordered something that never arrived. PayPal also offers a good buyers protection policy.
- Know your rights. Sellers are supposed to ship an online order within the time stated in their advertisements (or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time). If a seller can’t ship by then, it must give you a revised shipping date, with the chance to cancel for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.
- Search for local resources. For example, your pediatrician may have formula in stock and might be able to help. Participants in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition assistance program can contact their local office to find formula. More tips on what to do if you’ve run out of formula.
Here are more tips on how to shop online without getting scammed.
Biden asked American farmers to double crop this year (plant a second crop after the first one is harvested), to be able to add to the global food supply and temper global prices. But double cropping has its risks, like depleting the soil of valuable nutrients, which is tricky when there’s already a fertilizer shortage in the US. To increase fertilizer production, Biden announced $500 million in funding. The article also explains how outdated regulations makes shipping aid more expensive than the food itself.
FDA approved Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) use for the Pfizer booster shot for children 5-11. The booster should be taken five to nine months after the last shot. Some sobering stats: Unvaccinated kids in that age group were hospitalized twice as much as vaccinated kids during the omicron wave. And hospitalizations among kids increased by 8.4% during the second week of May.
US households can now order a third round of free tests from the CDC.
FDA is further limiting the EUA for the J&J vaccine, following a number of deaths due to a rare clotting syndrome. The vaccine is now only allowed for use in patients who can’t get other brands of Covid vaccine or who wouldn’t otherwise get the vaccine.
The US reached 1 million deaths, and cases keep raising. Here’s an excellent explanation of why deciding if we are still in a public health emergency is really important for funding and our capacity to fight the virus.
Opinion: A new covid wave? Be less alarmed, and more prepared.
You know Putin messed up badly when even Switzerland is inching closer to NATO. Finland and Sweden have finally applied for membership. Turkey’s president Erdogan has expressed his opposition to both of them joining, but it is hoped that it won’t have any impact on the final decision. The process, which usually takes eight to ten months, might be expedited to avoid leaving the two countries exposed to potential Russian threats.
The US embassy reopened in Kyiv, and the Senate appointed the first US ambassador to Ukraine in three years.
Here is a disaster glossary that helps understand emergency management terms.
According to a new report from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the annual firearm production has tripled since 2000 and spiked even more in the last three years. Since 2009, personal protection handguns such as Glocks have outsold rifles. The police recovered 19,344 ghost guns in 2021, a ten-fold increase since 2016. There are currently over 400 million guns owned in the US.
China is going to build a 590 ft (180 m) high 3D-printed dam designed by AI and entirely built by machines. The dam will be located in Tibet and is supposed to generate five billion kWh of electricity per year. Although dams can create a whole lot of problems, it’s cool to see 3D printing technology being used on such a big scale.
A Māori community in New Zealand uses a board game called Marae-opoly to help decide how to manage flood risks.
For those interested in the whys: there’s a new documentary on Parmount+ called Black Gold, about industry efforts to cover up evidence of global warming. We haven’t watched it yet, but when we do, I’ll post a comment here. Here’s the link to the trailer.
Did you know that Mangalitza pigs can fight off bears? The pigs below are likely not Mangalitza but they surely show off their fierce side 💪