5.31.2022

Uvalde Probe, Exascale Era Begins, and Creatures of the Nose Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, May 31, and we're covering a Justice Department review in Texas, a broken milestone in supercomputing, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

NEED TO KNOW

 

Federal Probe in Texas

The Justice Department will review the response by local police to last week's mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, according to reports over the weekend. The move comes amid mounting questions over the decision to not fully engage the attacker at the scene, allowing him to remain barricaded inside a pair of classrooms for more than an hour. See a timeline here.

 

Local officials have faced intense criticism over contradictory details and a lack of clarity surrounding the timeline of the day. Sources say officers were present outside the classrooms by 11:35 am; however, the suspect was not killed until 12:50 pm when a tactical Border Patrol unit breached the first room. During the intervening 75 minutes, reports suggest officers were told not to engage despite multiple calls by students to 911 from inside the classrooms during that time.

 

Local police have also faced scrutiny following videos posted to social media showing frantic parents being restrained outside the school. 

 

Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the attack. The husband of one of the adult victims suffered a heart attack and died Thursday.

 

Separately, investigators have not yet uncovered a motive for the shooting but say the gunman left a number of potential warning signs online.  

Exascale Era Arrives

The US is once again home to the world's top supercomputer, with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Frontier facility ranked No. 1 in the semiannual list of the world's 500 most powerful systems. Japan's Fugaku system had held the top spot for the past two years.  

 

Beyond leading the list, the Frontier system was qualified as the first true exascale computing platform, capable of performing a billion billion operations per second (see overview, w/video). Among other applications, the massive computing power is expected to unlock new insights into complex systems ranging from climate to molecular-level medicine, urban modeling, and more. The computing power is also believed to be comparable to that of the human brain.

 

While the US holds five of the top 10 spots—including the world's fastest company-owned system, housed at Nvidia—China accounts for more than a third of the top 500. 

Brooklyn Church Heist

A century-old artifact worth an estimated $2M was stolen from the St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, New York, officials revealed over the weekend. Thieves made off with the parish's tabernacle—an altar centerpiece used in the rite of Communion—which was made of solid 18-karat gold and adorned with jewels.

 

The church was founded in the late 19th-century, with the sacramental container donated in 1890 (see photos). One of the most expensive tabernacles in the country, the piece had its own electronic security system and was enclosed in one-inch thick steel plates when not in use. Officials said the building was undergoing construction at the time, and a power saw was reportedly used to break through the casing.

 

The burglars also knocked the head off the statue of an angel, while making off with security footage. Authorities have not identified any suspects as of this morning. 

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Real Madrid tops Liverpool 1-0 to win UEFA Champions League, their 14th title and fifth win in the last nine seasons (More) | Liverpool fans in Paris pepper-sprayed trying to enter Champions League final (More)

 

> "Top Gun: Maverick" hauls in $156M over Memorial Day weekend at North American box office, the best Memorial Day debut in history (More) | Eurovision winners sell trophy for $900K to fund drones for Ukraine's armed forces (More)

 

> Boston Celtics hold off Miami Heat in Game 7 to advance to NBA Finals against Golden State Warriors (More) | Marcus Ericsson edges Pato O’Ward to win the 106th Indianapolis 500 (More)

Science & Technology

> Monkeypox outbreak rises to more than 250 cases across 23 countries, with 12 US cases; experts say epidemic unlikely, virus poses moderate risk to public health (More) | Four key questions on the outbreak (More)

 

> Iraq drought reveals 3,400-year-old city along the Tigris River; remains believed to be an urban center of the ancient Mitanni Empire (More)

 

> Preserved egg fragments help place the now-extinct Australian "thunderbird" on the evolutionary tree, suggest ancient Indigenous populations consumed their eggs (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets up Friday (S&P 500 +2.5%, Dow +1.8%, Nasdaq +3.3%); markets break seven-week losing streak as S&P 500 sees highest weekly return since November 2020 (More)

 

> US consumer prices in April up 6.3% over last year, but growth decelerated for the first time this year; consumer spending was up 0.9%, the fourth consecutive month of growth (More)

 

> The 2021 CEO compensation for S&P 500 executives up 17% over last year to median of $14.5M (More)

From our partners: This credit card is a reward-seeker's dream, offering unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases (no more tracking categories) and a generous sign-up bonus. The Ascent's independent team of experts is calling it one of the best all-around cards. Learn more today.

Politics & World Affairs

> Russian troops advance into Severodonetsk, the last remaining city in the eastern Luhansk region under Ukrainian control (More) | Europe Union agrees to partial ban on Russian oil (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

 

> Biden administration reportedly considering forgiving $10K in student loan debt for borrowers with under $150K in individual income, $300K for couples (More) | See student loan debt statistics here (More)

 

> Colombia presidential election heads to runoff; leftist ex-rebel Gustavo Petro to face surprise second-place finisher, conservative populist Rodolfo Hernández (More) | First Pacific hurricane of the season expected to make landfall along southern Mexico as Category 2 storm (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

Creatures of the Nose

Off Leash | Alexandra Horowitz. (Podcast) With hundreds of millions of olfactory cells, a dog's nose is its window to the world. Canine cognition expert Alexandra Horowitz unpacks what we can learn about the sense of smell from studying our four-legged friends. (Listen)

Flesh, Blood, and Bronze

Smithsonian | Jeff MacGregor. An inside look at what will be the newest memorial in the nation's capital, a remembrance of Americans' sacrifice in World War I, set for installation in 2024. (Read)

THE CYBERSECURITY TREND

 

In partnership with The Motley Fool

 

Companies shifting to remote online workforces, online medical records, credit card databases, international cyberattacks. What do they have in common? The increasing importance of cybersecurity.

 

The Motley Fool believes the cybersecurity industry can encompass much of the growth found in today's biggest market trends. And they've picked out four stocks they believe will help you best capitalize on the industry's growth. How can you read it? Just sign up for The Motley Fool and take 50% off while you're at it.

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ETCETERA

 

The Lincoln Memorial turns 100 years old.

 

... and Memorial Day photos from across the US.

 

American drivers are increasingly going electric.

 

The world's best cities for work-life balance.

 

"Dr. Beach" ranks the top 10 US beaches for the summer.

 

If the ancient Romans had Google Maps.

 

Davos' elite snack on a $50 burrito.

 

Humanoid robot artist paints the queen.

 

Clickbait: Winnie the Pooh, the nightmare fuel.

 

Historybook: Poet Walt Whitman born (1819); London’s Big Ben ticks for the first time (1859); HBD Clint Eastwood (1930); HBD Brooke Shields (1965); Watergate secret source "Deep Throat" is revealed (2005).

 

"It is a beautiful truth that all men contain something of the artist in them."

- Walt Whitman

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