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Price truthers unite!
July 8, 2014

Tim Cavanaugh has a post over at the National Review complaining that people are talking about how unaffordable the American Dream is these days, without mentioning inflation:

...at no point did anybody refer to the monetary phenomenon by which the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States incessantly expands the supply of money, and as a direct result you end up paying more for less of everything until the day you die — and beyond. [National Review]

Ironically, he doesn't include an actual measurement of inflation (which doesn't work by magic). Here's the last few years of the consumer price index:

Now, to be fair, later in the piece Cavanaugh suggests the CPI is a government conspiracy (a la Shadowstats, where they take the CPI and tack on a few points) and that "true" prices must be skyrocketing. The major problem with this is that growth itself has been fairly slow, so much inflation at all would mean that the United States economy has been shrinking, as increased prices overwhelm the value of increased nominal output. How would Cavanaugh square six years of job growth during a postulated secret recession with Okun's law? Or are the jobs numbers also faked?

I think it's safe to conclude that we can breathe easy; the United States is not going to turn into Zimbabwe. Ryan Cooper

global matters
1:57 p.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will reportedly seek a fourth term in 2017, unnamed sources told German newspaper Der Spiegel. She's expected to officially announce her run in 2016, Politico reports.

Should Merkel win a fourth term, the first female chancellor would find herself right behind the longest-serving leaders in German history, Helmut Köhl and Otto von Bismarck.

There's no obvious successor in place and Merkel is popular in polls, so Politico reports her 2017 candidacy has been anticipated. Julie Kliegman

race in america
1:33 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The NAACP kicked off a 40-day march through the U.S. South on Saturday meant to highlight issues of racial injustice in the country, Reuters reports. The Journey for Justice organizers started with a civil rights rally in Selma, Alabama, a city key to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The march was sparked by the many recent instances of police officers killing unarmed black men, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. 

"We can continue to be serially outraged, or we can engage in an outrageously patriotic demonstration with a commitment to bringing about reform in this country," NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said.

Marchers will conduct teach-ins in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, as they make their way to Washington, D.C., for a final rally Sept. 16. Julie Kliegman

strange species
1:06 p.m. ET

For years, scientists thought Africa's golden jackals to be the same as Eurasian golden jackals. Only one problem: the African ones turned out to not be jackals at all, The Huffington Post reports.

In a new DNA study published Thursday in Current Biology, researchers concluded that what they thought were jackals are actually African golden wolves, the first new species of canine found in Africa in 150 years, according to The Guardian.

Consider the two species distant cousins. Julie Kliegman

Olympics
12:27 p.m. ET

The World Health Organization asked the International Olympic Committee to conduct tests for viruses on the water in Rio de Janeiro, the site of 2016's summer games, The Associated Press reports. The move comes days after an AP investigation found high levels of viruses and bacteria from sewage in the city's water, where open-water swimming and boating events will be held for 1,400 athletes.

The international Sailing Federation will also run independent tests for viruses in the water. One unique feature of Rio playing host to the Olympics is that the boating events are set to be contested unusually close to the rest of the action, offering good publicity to those sports and their athletes. But the venue could change if the waters are deemed unsafe. Julie Kliegman

Science!
11:27 a.m. ET
Johns Hopkins University

Amazon employees aren't the only people aiming to ship things quickly via drone. Doctors are testing out the technology, too.

A study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One reports early findings that it might be possible for doctors to send blood samples to laboratories from remote clinics up to 30 miles away. They ran 56 blood samples from healthy patients through common tests doctors order and found that the drone samples were preserved just as well as the ones that hadn't been airborne, Pacific Standard reports.

The Johns Hopkins University researchers say the next step could be testing the practice in remote regions of Africa. They'll also need to ensure drone flights perform equally well with blood from sick patients. Julie Kliegman

Let's talk about sex
10:46 a.m. ET
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Image

Rite Aid and Food Lion don't want minors in their store learning "25 Ways to Kiss a Naked Man," apparently. That is, you guessed it, a run-of-the-mill Cosmopolitan headline. The pharmacy and grocery chains announced Wednesday they'll shield minors from the horrors of sexual content by putting blinders on the magazine's cover, The New York Times reports.

The blinders will hide the cover's headlines, but not the magazine title or model. So not to worry, your kid can still gaze at barely naked women — he just can't read about them.

The move comes in response to a campaign against Hearst by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, ironically started by William Randolph Hearst's own granddaughter, who does not have an official title at the company.

There's no word yet if other magazine-selling chain stores will follow suit. Meanwhile, the Times points out even racier covers routinely go unguarded. Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, anyone? Julie Kliegman

Free trade
9:31 a.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The 12 Pacific Rim countries working in Hawaii to establish the biggest free trade deal in history failed to reach an agreement Friday, the end of their latest round of talks. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would cover 40 percent of the global economy.

Negotiators say significant progress was made, according to CNN, but there's no date set yet for the next round of talks. An agreement would lower trade barriers between the nations and encourage economic growth.

President Obama had all but ensured a deal would cruise through Congress, but with the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, if a deal is reached down the road, its fate would be less clear. Julie Kliegman

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