🐤 An international incident

The rift between China and the United Kingdom seems to be widening.

Wednesday | May 15th, 2024
Early Chirp

Happy Wednesday, chirpers! We know mornings can be hectic, so we’re honored you spend a few minutes of yours with us. And if you need to shave some seconds from your daily routine, we might be able to help.

As it turns out, you (probably) don’t need to wash your legs in the shower.

“I don’t think you need to,” said Dr. Divya Shokeen. “Unless you’re, like, aggressively sweating and you just biked 20 miles. Then, yes, please wash your legs.”

-Chris Agee

$122.94 (0.75%)
Dow Jones
$126.60 (0.32%)
S&P 500
$25.26 (0.48%)
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-$1,325.39 (-2.11%)
$18.30 (60.10%)
*Market data for this issue is from May 14th, 2024 at 7:34pm EST

🏦 Markets: Despite some early indicators that stubborn inflation could keep interest rates high for longer than investors had hoped, the stock market performed pretty well yesterday.

The Nasdaq Composite wrapped up the day at an all-time high and all three major indexes chalked up gains.

As for the producer price index, its higher-than-expected 0.5% wholesale price increase for April was a bummer … but that was at least partially offset by a downward revision of the previous month’s hike.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Giphy

📈 Holding steady: Investors and ordinary Americans alike weren’t excited to hear the latest inflation-related remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. In an update yesterday, he acknowledged that consumer prices remain higher than anticipated and put the kibosh on expectations for an interest rate reduction in the near future. Instead, Powell said that “we’ll need to be patient and let restrictive policy do its work,” which he clarified by concluding that “it’s really a question of keeping policy at the current rate for longer than had been thought.”

📺 Bundling up: Streaming services continue to more closely resemble the cable TV model that they essentially replaced. As the cost of adding new platforms keeps adding up, Comcast announced that it plans to introduce a bundle of popular streamers — Netflix, Peacock, and Apple TV+ — for a discounted rate compared to subscribing to each one individually. The cost wasn’t confirmed in a report published this week, but at current rates it costs at least $23 per month to access all three platforms. StreamSaver is expected to be available later this month.

🚀 Another delay: Boeing just can’t catch a break these days. After a number of troubling reports about its passenger aircraft, a long-awaited mission from its Starliner spacecraft has been called off for a second straight week. After a technical issue necessitated a delay last week, its new date — Friday — has also been nixed. This time, the cause was said to be a problem with the spacecraft’s propulsion system, specifically a “small helium leak” found in its service module. As it stands, the next possible date for a launch will be Tuesday.

⛷️ Going downhill: The Summer Olympics might be around the corner, but it is a winter sport that is attracting a lot of attention this week. American downhill skier Breezy Johnson learned her fate from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency this week after exiting the sport in December amid an investigation into alleged violations of the organization’s rules. Johnson was found to have run afoul of testing mandates on three separate occasions and received a 14-month ban from the sport. Her violations were relatively minor, though, so she was spared a harsher penalty.

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world news

It Looks Like UK-China Relations Have Just Hit A New Low Point

Allegations are flying in both directions these days.

It Looks Like UK-China Relations Have Just Hit A New Low Point YouTube screenshot/France 24 English

Chinese provocations have strained the nation’s relationship with various countries — including the United States — in recent years. But its diplomatic and economic ties with the United Kingdom appear to be especially tenuous these days.

The latest development

Just a few days ago, British authorities took three individuals into custody on allegations that they had been gathering information on behalf of the Hong Kong intelligence community. According to early reports, Chi Leung Wai, Matthew Trickett, and Chung Biu Yuen are facing charges related to spying for Hong Kong — once a British colony and now under China’s authority — as well as forcing their way into a residence.

The very next day, the U.K. foreign ministry issued a stern statement denouncing the actions of China’s ambassador.

Accusing China in general of engaging in a “pattern of behavior” that targeted the U.K., including cyberattacks and pursuit of bounties for individuals who fled Hong Kong and took refuge in Britain, the foreign ministry’s statement is among the harshest to date amid the ongoing tensions between the two nations.

A number of protests and demonstrations throughout the U.K. in recent years have called for the restoration of democracy in Hong Kong, though these events have repeatedly been marred by acts of violence and intimidation — often by individuals with loyalties to China.

A response from Beijing

The allegations are not only going in one direction, though. China reacted to the recent efforts by British authorities with a statement from its embassy asserting that it “firmly rejects and strongly condemns the U.K.’s fabrication of the so-called case and unwarranted accusation” made against Hong Kong and China.”

Furthermore, the statement accused British officials of staging “a series of accusations … including those on ‘China spies’ and cyberattacks” that China described as “groundless and slanderous.”

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Could This Gel Prevent Alcohol From Damaging Your Liver?

So far, testing has yielded positive results.

Could This Gel Prevent Alcohol From Damaging Your Liver? Giphy

You probably already know that too much alcohol consumption is bad for your body. Not only can it result in short-term memory loss and reduced motor functions, but the long-term impact is often detrimental to the body — most notably in the form of liver damage.

But what if there were a scientific breakthrough that allowed a person to imbibe without the potentially dangerous spirits fully entering the bloodstream, thereby bypassing the liver entirely? Well, that’s what one group of experts in Switzerland believe they’ve created.

Are you gellin’?

Let’s start with a brief overview of how alcohol does its dirty work on the human body:

  • It enters the bloodstream via mucous membranes in the stomach and intestines.
  • The first step of metabolism creates a toxin known as acetaldehyde.
  • Before the final step, this compound can inflict damage to the liver and other organs.

But a new product could prevent this process from occurring in the first place. It’s a gel-like substance that can be ingested by mouth before, during, or immediately after drinking. It contains ingredients including glucose, nanofibers, and even gold nanoparticles that work together to prevent alcohol from entering the bloodstream at all.

Testing on mice found blood-alcohol levels were 40% lower after 30 minutes and 56% lower after five hours for animals that received the gel. They also had lower levels of liver stress and less acetaldehyde in their systems.

There’s a trade-off

Sure, this sounds great. And upcoming human tests could result in the gel being widely available. But if you’re drinking to feel the effects of alcohol, acetaldehyde is a key component.

So you’ll be able to drink, but you won’t get much more than the taste out of it.

And as lead scientist Raffaele Mezzenga explained: “It’s healthier not to drink alcohol at all.”

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Here’s Why Federal Officials Are Investigating Waymo And Its Self-Driving Vehicles

The probe is focused on nearly two dozen incident reports.

Here’s Why Federal Officials Are Investigating Waymo And Its Self-Driving Vehicles Wikipedia/By Dllu - Own work

So-called “robotaxis” have become an increasingly common sight on the streets of a few U.S. cities recently as autonomous vehicles make their way through a rigorous testing phase.

And while the results have been pretty encouraging overall, a number of crashes and other unintended incidents are stoking concerns over the viability of self-driving cars.

Waymo in the middle

One of the most prominent names in this emerging industry is Waymo, which has been unleashing its robotaxis far and wide while allowing passengers to travel without a human in the driver’s seat.

The company’s own data highlights some impressive stats after logging more than 7 million driverless miles. Human motorists, a report released in December shows, are up to seven times more likely to result in injuries than self-driving software.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t mishaps … and that’s where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes in.

“Unexpected behavior”

This week, the NHTSA announced that it had opened an investigation into nearly two dozen reports regarding Waymo vehicles, including some that originated from the company itself.

Specifically, the probe is focused on “unexpected behavior” including crashes into “stationary and semi-stationary objects” and incidents in which the self-driving cars “appeared to disobey traffic safety control devices.”

While the majority of the 22 incidents under review did result in a crash of some sort, there were no injuries reported. Nevertheless, the agency’s findings could lead to the latest recall for Waymo, which voluntarily recalled hundreds of its cars earlier this month after two collisions occurred in Arizona.

The NHTSA is also reportedly reviewing data from rivals like Cruise and Tesla ... and Waymo issued a statement vowing to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and praising the regulatory body for performing a “very important role in road safety.”

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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