That's some inflation. South Koreans float balloons filled with cash to the North

Balloons released in South Korea

Former North Korean defectors who were soldiers when they lived in North Korea release a balloon containing one dollar banknotes, radios, CD and leaflets denouncing the North Korean regime towards the north near the demilitarized zone January 15, 2014.

Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Balloons, similar to the ones pictured here, packed with cash and propaganda leaflets floated over the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea Friday — leading to an exchange of gunfire between the two countries, which are technically still at war.

The balloons were packed by North Korean defectors, something they've done many times in the past. The idea is to tell North Koreans about what life is like in the South, and to criticize their government. The balloons this time were stuffed with about 400 DVDs, 300 books, 200,000 leaflets and $1,000 in cash.

According to Quartz, the balloon launch was designed to coincide with the 69th anniversary of the founding of North Korea's ruling Workers Party — a major occasion in the impoverished North. Eyes have been on North Korea recently as the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, had been out of site for nearly six weeks, prompting questions about whether there may have been a coup. See a video of this year's balloon launch, from Reuters.

(Editor's note: The Global Scan can be delivered straight to your inbox every weekday. Just register and sign up today.)

The US infant mortality rate is the highest in the developed world

The US spends billions of dollars on healthcare every year, the most of any country in the world. But, despite that, the US infant mortality rate is still the highest in the developed world: 6.2 per 1,000 live births. By comparion, Canada's rate is just 4.7, and the United Kingdom's is just 4.4. Japan, at almost the bottom, has an infant mortality rate of just 2.1 per 1,000 live births.

So, what's the deal? It turns out for all of our spending, we don't spend money in the areas where it really counts. PRI's The Takeaway reveals that the biggest difference in mortality rate comes between the age of one month and one year — contrasted with birth to one month, when the rates are very similar. And it's especially pronounced in low-income families. Doctors say the best intervention would be to provide free in-home visits by healthcare providers in that critical first year — services that are common in other parts of the developed world.

India declares the world's first vegetarian city

Does the world have its first all-vegetarian city? It sure seems like it. According to a report from the "Mercy For Animals" blog, Palitana, India, has become the first place to declare itself all vegetarian, barring animal slaughtering of any kind in the city, as well as prohibiting the sale of meat and eggs in the community. Palitana is in Gujarat state, on India's west coast.

The movement to become an entirely vegetarian city came after a group of Jain monks in the city went on a hunger strike to protest the killing of animals in the city, which is home to one of the religion's holiest sites. The monks had threatened to fast to the point of death. According to WorldCrunch, the decision has been hailed by followers of the Jain religion, but it has made life difficult for others, like fishermen, and the city's 25 percent Muslim minority. They've challenged the decision in court.

This store specializes in Vladimir Putin — T-shirts

You can find practically anything you would ever want in New York. From designer handbags to knockoff Rolexes, they're all available from shops in New York City. Add to that a store that specializes in Vladimir Putin memorabilia. Julius Kacinskis opened the shop in Manhattan to sell T-shirts that he designed himself, including one that depicts the Russian strongman as Superman — with a peace sign for a belt buckle.

Kacinskis says the Western media misrepresents Putin — and that he's really one of the most peace-loving people on Earth. But while Kacinskis is serious about his store and his project, many of the customers in his shop on a recent day were decidedly not. One of the customers suggested that he start selling Ebola and ISIS T-shirts right along the shirts with Putin on them.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

The hits keep coming in Japan, with Typhoon Vongfong lining up for a run at the islands. The storm has the strength of a Category 4 hurricane — with winds of 132 mph. It had been even strong earlier in the week, with 160 mph winds — similar to a Category 5 hurricance. Japan is preparing for damaging winds and floods. It should make landfall on the main islands by Sunday, according to AccuWeather.

Will you support The World today?

The story you just read is available to read for free because thousands of listeners and readers like you generously support our nonprofit newsroom. Every day, the reporters and producers at The World are hard at work bringing you relevant, fact-based and human-centered news from across the globe. But we can’t do it without you: We need your support to ensure we can continue this work for another year. 

Make your gift of $100 or pledge $10 monthly, and we’ll thank you on The World’s podcast in early 2023. And every gift will get us one step closer to our goal.