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April 10, 2024

The Appetizer

“Your path isn't always a straight line.”

  • Retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who after multiple rejections over the course of 10 years, was ultimately selected to become an astronaut and be both the first female commander of the International Space Station and the American record holder for most days in space (665 days in total).

Now, on to the numbers. Drum roll, please …

  • 23%: The growth in the number of students studying construction trades in 2023 compared to the year before.
  • ~60%: The estimated percentage of jobs Americans do today that didn’t exist in 1940, according to a recent study.
  • 71%: The percentage of baby boomers who plan to stay in their current homes as they grow older.
  • $20 per hour: The new minimum wage for fast-food workers in California, up from $16 per hour.
  • 14.2 million: The average number of people who watched Iowa beat UConn at the women’s Final Four, making it the most-watched college women’s basketball game ever and the largest audience for an ESPN basketball broadcast.

Dig In
Havana Syndrome

Last week, NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – celebrated 75 years of collective defense. Woohoo! So with this as a backdrop, we thought we’d dig into some geopolitical happenings and focus in on the Havana Syndrome.

What is it? In 2016, a U.S. embassy official in Havana reported having extreme headaches and was hearing piercing sounds at night, likened to “a dentist drilling” into her ear “times 10.” Since then, over 1,000 U.S. officials have reported similar symptoms, now dubbed the “Havana Syndrome.”

A recent joint investigation by The Insider, 60 Minutes, and Der Spiegel (media outlets) suggests U.S. officials have been targeted by Russian sonic weaponry. The report claims Unit 29155, a top secret Russian military group, has been working on the development of “non-lethal acoustic weapons.”

As it usually goes in the spy world, both the U.S. and Russia have been denying everything. In 2023, five U.S. intelligence agencies determined that it was “very unlikely” that Russia or a foreign power was involved, but the cause is still undetermined. For more on geopolitics, take a look at our Geopolitics Risk Dashboard in our 2024 Outlook.

Weekly Specials

The Magnificent Seven no more? Apple and Tesla didn’t quite keep up in the first quarter, with both stocks posting declines.

For the average worker, Fridays now end at 4:03 p.m., not 5:00 p.m., showing a 15% workday reduction from before the pandemic. But no one is starting earlier or working harder. Go figure! Imagine if we moved to a four-day work week.

Groundhog gossip alert! Punxsutawney Phil, more than just a weather-prognosticating celebrity, is now a proud dad! He and his wife, Phyllis, have two new additions to their burrow. Here’s hoping they inherit dad’s forecasting flair – no pressure.

The White House is setting its sights high – literally? By December 2026, they want NASA to create a new time zone for the moon. This is part of the United States’ broader goal to establish international norms in space. Fun fact: Time moves slightly faster on the Moon – 58.7 microseconds faster per day.

Corporate Lunch

That e-mail you got from Mark Zuckerberg? It could be real – he is reaching out personally to recruit engineers to join Meta.

OpenAI announced a technology that can recreate human voices. Phone scams are about to get intricate. Even if Morgan Freeman is talking to you, you didn’t win a free cruise.

Why don’t we take five ... weeks: United has asked pilots to take unpaid time off because of Boeing’s delayed aircraft.

UPS is replacing FedEx as the U.S. Postal Service’s primary air cargo provider.

Amazon is giving up on its cashierless “Just Walk Out” technology at its grocery stores. Apparently, people also thought Walgreens and Target have this technology, forcing them to close stores.

Tesla’s deliveries fell for first time since 2020. Maybe consumers are ordering take-out instead.

Costco has begun offering Ozempic prescriptions to members. Imagine the line for this free sample table.

JetBlue will now charge you more for adding another checked bag right before a flight. Will this cut down on how much people shop while on vacation? We will have to wait and see.

drawing of a table setting with a fork on the left, plate in the middle, and a knife and spoon on the right

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