Border blockade keeps on truckin’ – USA TODAY

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This year’s Super Bowl will be hot. Literally. Team USA collected a few more gold medals at the Winter Olympics. And you’re not imagining things: Everything costs more now.

👋 Hey! It’s Laura. It’s Thursday. Here’s Thursday’s news!

But first, gold, silver, bronze and … panda? 🐼 A very cute stuffed panda showed up at the Beijing Olympics. Here’s why Olympic athletes are taking photos with it.

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Border protest over vaccine mandates boosts economic worries

A protest at a major border crossing by Canadian truckers critical of vaccine mandates entered its fourth day Thursday, shutting down traffic on one international gateway and backing it up at another. Truckers calling themselves the Freedom Convoy are opposing a Canadian requirement that drivers entering the country be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or face testing and possible quarantine. The blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, which carries 25% of all trade between the U.S. and Canada, has heightened concerns about commerce and what comes next. The bridge connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, both of which have significant auto operations. The standstill has turned into a major issue for businesses that already have been suffering from global supply chain and local staffing issues.

Team USA taking home some more gold 🥇 

Nathan Chen’s quest to exorcise the Olympic demons from four years ago is now complete. Chen was masterful in his free skate, which combined with his sizable lead after the short program, allowed him to claim the gold in men’s figure skating at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Chen wasn’t the only American to win gold on Thursday. Chloe Kim made history as the first woman to win two Olympic gold medals in the halfpipe. Her first run was all she needed to outdistance the field by a considerable margin. The USA also won gold in mixed team aerials, a new Olympic event. Chen, Kim and the U.S aerials mixed team join snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis in winning gold medals for Team USA so far. Looking for a recap of Wednesday’s events? We’ve got you covered.

What everyone’s talking about

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Hottest Super Bowl ever?

With a forecast high in the mid-to-upper 80s on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles, this could be the hottest Super Bowl on record. “Despite the fact that the calendar reads early February, the region is expected to record temperatures ranging from 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit,” AccuWeather said. The Los Angeles Rams will face the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, where it’s typically in the mid-60s this time of year. And for those watching from the other coast, it could be a cozy one by the fireplace. It won’t be a blockbuster blizzard by any stretch, but forecasters are watching for a storm to dump a few inches of snow on portions of the East Coast Sunday. Forecasters said the storm could bring up to 3 inches of snow from the mid-Atlantic to New England. 🏈 I just hope both teams have fun.

CDC changes up its approach to opioids for pain patients

New guidance on prescribing opioids unveiled Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention avoids the strict limits found in a 2016 version that accelerated a nationwide drop in pain pill prescriptions but led to backlash from chronic pain patients. The 229-page document advises doctors to limit new opioid prescriptions and discuss alternative therapies with patients. But the new guidance largely avoids figures on dosage and length of prescription and warns against abruptly or rapidly discontinuing pain pills for some chronic pain patients. The document includes a dozen recommendations on how and when to manage pain patients, including non-pain-pill therapies, for people in non-hospital settings. Just as important, it does not include the “hard thresholds” from the 2016 version that “were essentially taken out of context beyond (their) intent and applied as rigid laws, regulations and policies,” according to the CDC. Read more about the revised guidelines here.

Real quick

US inflation jumped 7.5% in the past year, a 40-year high

Inflation soared over the past year at its highest rate in four decades, hammering America’s consumers, wiping out pay raises and reinforcing the Federal Reserve’s decision to begin raising borrowing rates across the economy. The Labor Department said Thursday that consumer prices jumped 7.5% last month compared with 12 months earlier, the steepest year-over-year increase since February 1982. Shortages of supplies and workers, heavy doses of federal aid, ultra-low interest rates and robust consumer spending combined to send inflation accelerating in the past year. There are few signs that inflation will slow significantly anytime soon. Most of the factors that have forced up prices since last spring remain in place: Wages are rising at the fastest pace in at least 20 years and ports and warehouses are overwhelmed, with hundreds of workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, the nation’s busiest, out sick last month. Many products and parts remain in short supply as a result.

A break from the news

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