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Housing costs keep inflation stubborn; New report on Maui wildfires released

A "for rent" sign in front of a home in December 2023 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle
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Getty Images
A "for rent" sign in front of a home in December 2023 in Miami, Florida.

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Today's top stories

Inflation has proven more stubborn than expected this year. The Federal Reserve has managed to get it down significantly from its peak of 9.1% two years ago. But it's been difficult to push inflation lower than 3%. One of the biggest drivers of inflation last month was the high cost of housing. The government reports that rent increased nearly 6% in the past 12 months. But real estate experts say government figures don't tell the full story.

  • Unlike consumer goods such as hamburgers, housing costs don't change minute-by-minute or even month-to-month, NPR's Scott Horsley explains on Up First. There's a lag. This means that over time, inflation data could show a slowdown in national rent increases, though housing costs will still be higher than they were pre-pandemic. 


Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez has released the first findings from an investigation into the Maui wildfires that killed more than 100 people and destroyed the historic town of Lahaina last year. The report gives a detailed timeline of the fires and the communications challenges first responders faced — and suggests some local officials were slow to respond to the crisis.

  • The timeline raises questions about Maui's Emergency Management Agency, NPR's Greg Allen says. Officials seemed unaware of the severity of the fire for most of the day and didn't send out an evacuation order for Lahaina until more than an hour after the fire had spread into the town. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen resisted suggestions to issue an emergency declaration and later declined assistance from Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency. The attorney general says a full critique of the response by officials and agencies will come in the next phase of the investigation.


Israel is now engaged in conflicts on three separate fronts: They're waging war against Hamas in Gaza, trading rocket fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and they were recently attacked directly by Iran in retaliation for an Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound this month in Syria. Yet, the U.S. and other countries are urging Israel to avoid escalating these conflicts.

  • All three conflicts are linked and date back decades, NPR's Greg Myre says. "It's really taken us into uncharted territory." Israel's war cabinet has been debating a response to Iran. The U.S. and European countries say the successful defense against Iran's air strike was a win, and Israel should take it and de-escalate. Neither Hezbollah nor Israel appears interested in a full-scale battle on the northern border. In Gaza, the war is evolving. Most ground combat has stopped, and Israel is mostly using air strikes. 

We, the voters

Aaron Hunter doing physical therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital's outpatient center in Sarasota on Oct. 12, 2023. After getting shot in the head last June, Aaron struggled with weakness and balance on the left side of his body. He spent months in physical therapy before being discharged in February.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF
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WUSF
Aaron Hunter doing physical therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital's outpatient center in Sarasota on Oct. 12, 2023. After getting shot in the head last June, Aaron struggled with weakness and balance on the left side of his body. He spent months in physical therapy before being discharged in February.

As part of the We, The Voters series, NPR is bringing you stories of gun violence and its impact on communities all week.

Guns are now the leading cause of death among American children and teens. On top of these devastating deaths, an estimated 2-4 times as many U.S. children survive a gunshot injury. Survivors can face life-long challenges such as disability, pain, mental trauma and financial burdens. The trauma doesn't end there: Simply witnessing gun violence has been linked to PTSD, anxiety and other psychiatric issues among children.

  • Aaron Hunter was shot in the head at 13 while playing with friends. Read about his road to recovery and how his mother is standing up for moms whose kids didn't make it. 

Picture show

Lindsey Anderson sits down to read <em>Caps for Sale</em> by Esphyr Slobodkina to her children Orion, 6, Arthur, 4, and Thora Hoke, 1, inside the exhibit inspired by the book inside The Rabbit hOle, an immersive museum dedicated to children's literature, in North Kansas City, Mo.
Katie Currid / for NPR
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for NPR
Lindsey Anderson sits down to read Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina to her children Orion, 6, Arthur, 4, and Thora Hoke, 1, inside the exhibit inspired by the book inside The Rabbit hOle, an immersive museum dedicated to children's literature, in North Kansas City, Mo.

If you've ever been to a children's museum, you're likely to find similar exhibits no matter where you go: a water exploration table, a kid-sized grocery store and a colorful jungle gym. These activities are crowd pleasers. But at The Rabbit hOle, an innovative and immersive children's literature museum in North Kansas City, Mo., the owners wanted to try something new.

3 things to know before you go

Last week, James McCartney (left), the son of Beatle <em></em>Paul McCartney, released a new song called <em></em>"Primrose Hill" that he co-wrote with Sean Ono Lennon, the son of John Lennon.
/ Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; Lionel Hahn/Getty Images
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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; Lionel Hahn/Getty Images
Last week, James McCartney (left), the son of Beatle Paul McCartney, released a new song called "Primrose Hill" that he co-wrote with Sean Ono Lennon, the son of John Lennon.

  1. A new Lennon-McCartney collab just dropped. James McCartney and Sean Ono Lennon, the sons of Beatles members Paul McCartney and John Lennon, have co-written a song called "Primrose Hill."
  2. Another pandemic could be on the rise — this time among sea urchins in areas between Florida and the Caribbean. (via WUSF)
  3. The University of Southern California says it will no longer have its valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, speak at commencement, citing safety concerns. Some student groups, such as the organization Trojans for Israel, have criticized Tabassum's social media content about the Israel-Gaza war as "antisemitic bigotry." Others denounced USC's decision and said she should be able to speak freely. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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[Copyright 2024 NPR]