Unskewed
July 17, 2014
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Awhile ago I poked fun at Tim Cavanaugh for speculating that inflation is much higher than official numbers suggest. There's a whole stat-juking cottage industry working to support this conclusion, most prominently the website ShadowStats. As my colleague John Aziz points out, their methodology with respect to inflation is to take the consumer price index and tack on a few points, so unsurprisingly they show inflation as being quite high.

As Matt O'Brien points out today, the most convincing argument against this is that it implies the economy has been in continuous recession since 1988. However, Cullen Roche noticed something that is perhaps even more telling — ShadowStats itself hasn't changed its subscription price in 8 years:

At $175 for a year long subscription, you still get the same ShadowStats. The cost of the subscription has remained the same even as inflation has moved higher. So, in real terms, there's actually been deflation in the cost of a ShadowStats subscription. Pretty ironic for a service that has been touting the coming hyperinflation for about a decade...[Pragmatic Capitalism]

A bargain at any price!

April Fools
11:19 p.m. ET

If new Late Late Show host James Corden wasn't familiar with America's April Fools Day tradition before Wednesday's show, he was afterward. Katie Couric is the guest, and anything else would kind of ruin the punchline. Watch below. —Peter Weber

TV talk
4:34 p.m. ET
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Any publicity is good publicity, right?

According to the Daily Mail, Barbara Walters, who created ABC's The View in 1997, believes that bringing on a controversial figure as co-host would boost the show's floundering ratings.

Walters sold the rights to The View to ABC last year. In an interview with David Letterman in 2014, Walters said that she didn't think that being on the show was what Lewinsky wanted at the time, but added, "I think it'd be great if she were on The View, but I wouldn't expect it tomorrow."

The "network source" quoted by the Mail said that Walters thinks Monica would attract a younger demographic interested in her story and what she has to say, though her presence would likely bar an appearance by Bill or Hillary Clinton.

Lewinsky has reportedly been asked to appear on the show as a guest to discuss her anti-bullying campaign, but a network executive said there are no plans to bring her on as a co-host.

A new Gooooal!
4:21 p.m. ET
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Thirteen U.S. senators have signed a letter to the head of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in a bipartisan effort to allow for a vote on moving the 2018 World Cup to a different location.

Fox News reports that Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are leading the charge to find a new host country for the competition. The senators cite "Russian aggression" and point to the fact that nearly half of the 2014 World Cup participants have joined international sanctions against Russia as reasons to consider "[denying] the Putin regime the privilege of hosting the 2018 World Cup."

Discoveries
4:13 p.m. ET

When workers from Russia's Rosneft oil company set out on a land reclamation project, they had no idea they would stumble on an important discovery. The workers unearthed the tusks of a female woolly mammoth during the project, near the city of Nyagan in western Siberia.

When the first tusk emerged in an excavator bucket, the workers began digging with hand shovels. They found the second tusk as well as tibia, ribs, and teeth, and jaw fragments from the animal.

Rosneft called the Khanty-Mansiysk Museum of Nature and Man to assess the find, and museum paleontologists confirmed the remains are at least 10,000 years old. They believe the mammoth was 30-40 years old when it died.

The museum will clean the tusk and bones, and experts will use radiocarbon dating to determine the remains' exact age. The experts also hope to determine whether the mammoth was part of the European or North American subspecies.

This just in
4:06 p.m. ET
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A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on corruption charges over his alleged use of his office to secure business deals for a friend in exchange for gifts.

The product of a years-long investigation, the 14-count indictment alleges Menendez received free trips on a private plane and that he improperly lobbied on behalf of a top donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez has said he did nothing wrong.

It is the first indictment of a sitting senator since prosecutors charged the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska in 2008.

Iran and the bomb
3:44 p.m. ET
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For the second time in as many days, negotiators on Wednesday extended diplomatic talks aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program after failing to reach a preliminary agreement.

"We continue to make progress but have not reached a political understanding," a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said.

The U.S., Iran, and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany were originally supposed to reach a framework deal by the end of March. But snags concerning economic sanctions and the storage of Iran's nuclear fuel, among other things, forced the extensions.

This doesn't look good
3:35 p.m. ET
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A new survey by Kaplan Test Prep has revealed that influential, rich families still play a huge factor in college admissions.

Out of the admissions officers from 400 top colleges and universities that Kaplan surveyed, 25 percent of them said that they have "felt pressured to accept an applicant who didn't meet (the) school's admissions requirements because of who that applicant was connected to."

These "influential slackers" could be edging more qualified candidates out of the admissions pool, Time notes. Kim Clark at Time refers to this "affirmative action for the rich" as "one of the worst-kept secrets in the college admissions world," but it's still disheartening to see the behind-the-scenes information confirmed in a study.

In addition to admitting the less-qualified but connected applicants, 16 percent of the officers surveyed said their school offered preference to children or siblings of alumni. Defenders of the practices say they help schools raise donations, which can be used for scholarships, while others say the policies could discourage students whose families don't have powerful social connections from applying.

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