7.26.2019

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Need To Know.
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Europe Scorched.
High-temperature records in Western Europe were shattered yesterday, as countries dealt with a second devastating heatwave in less than a month. Paris, in particular, experienced the highest temperatures ever recorded in the city, with a peak of 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit - smashing the previous record of 104.7 set in 1947. The Netherlands (102.9 degrees) and Western Germany (106.7 degrees) also saw their highest-ever temperatures. Trains in the United Kingdom, where temperatures broke July records, were ordered to run slowly to avoid buckling the tracks. While increasing global temperatures from climate change are believed to make extreme weather conditions worsen, the immediate culprit appears to be a block in the jet stream, stalling a high-pressure system in the region and allowing hot air from North Africa to sweep in. 

Read more about omega blocks, the weather phenomenon responsible for the heat.
Federal Death Penalty Revived.
The Justice Department announced it would begin executing federal death row prisoners again, a practice which had been effectively halted since 2003. The decision follows the conclusion of a safety review launched in 2014 following a highly-publicized botched state execution in Oklahoma. Only three people have been executed at the federal level since 1988 - the Department scheduled the execution of five current inmates (see list), set to begin in December. Attorney General William Barr also ordered the replacement of the previously-used three-drug protocol, an approach criticized due to the untested nature (paywall, Wired) of many mixtures, with one drug - pentobarbital. High doses of the sedative can induce comas and lead to respiratory failure.
Election Meddling.
Russian efforts to disrupt or influence the 2016 election was more extensive than previously thought, according to a new report from the Senate Intelligence Committee released yesterday. The unclassified but heavily redacted document (read here) found that Russian efforts targeted election infrastructure in all 50 US states, searching for cybersecurity vulnerabilities in voting systems. While there is no evidence that any votes were changed, in one instance the probe found that Russian hackers were in a position to "change or delete" voter data in Illinois. The conclusions paint a picture of Russian interference much broader than previously thought, which came in parallel with general disinformation campaigns across social media platforms to sway voter opinions. The report echoes numerous intelligence agencies that Russia is planning similar (but more advanced) efforts for the 2020 election cycle.  

In separate news, North Korea launched two short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, reportedly testing a new guided weapons system. 
In The Know.
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.
> Argentine boxer Hugo Alfredo Santillan dies at 23 from injuries sustained during boxing match; 2nd professional boxer this week to die following a match (More)
> 76th Venice Film Festival, the world's oldest, announces line-up of 21 competition titles which will include 3 from Netflix (More) | Woodstock 50 Festival finds new venue in Maryland, an hour outside of Washington, DC (More)
> Taylor Swift to receive first-ever Icon Award at 2019 Teen Choice Awards (August 11) for 'inspiring and creating a positive change' for young people (More)
Science & Technology.
> First study using gene-editing technique CRISPR inside the human body set to begin; will attempt to fix genetic mutation in patients that causes blindness (More)
> Study concludes current climate variability - the rise in global temperatures - has occurred more rapidly than any climate event over the last 2,000 years; over 700 proxy records incorporated in estimate (More)
> New robotic arm lets amputees “feel again” by recreating the nerve wiring of 119 sensation points (More)
Business & Markets.
> Earnings Season: Alphabet (Google) heftily beats earnings expectations, announces $25B stock buyback, shares up 8% in after-hours (More) | Amazon beats revenue expectations, but misses profit targets, shares fall in after-hours (More)
> Ford, BMW, Honda & Volkswagen reach agreement with California on fuel efficiency rules (More) | Nissan to reduce headcount by 12,500 after quarterly net income falls 95% (More)
> Apple to acquire 5G smartphone modem business from Intel for $1 billion (More)
Politics & World Affairs.
> 16 Navy SEALs arrested at California's Camp Pendelton following human smuggling investigation; offenses allegedly involved illegally transporting migrants across the border for financial gain (More)
> Election 2020: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) sues Google, says ad account was blocked in hours after first debate (More)
> In first speech, new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejects previous Brexit deal; says EU leaders must renegotiate to get deal passed by Oct. 31st deadline (More)
Weekend Reads.
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Just Some Kids from Northeast Ohio.
Bleacher Report | Hanif Abdurraqib. One year after NBA superstar Lebron James' school for at-risk kids opened, students appear to be thriving. Is it a blueprint for the rest of the country? (Read)
The Records Revealed.
Washington Post | Staff. Dig through the files from the largest civil action in US history, which capture how large pharmaceutical companies pushed a huge volume of opioids across the US. (Read, paywall)
 
Counter-Strike.
The Verge | Nicole Carpenter. Back in 2004, an e-sports team known as Les Seules became a global sensation through their domination of the first-person shooter video game Counter-Strike. The twist? It was an all-female team in a male-dominated sport. (Read)
 
The Case of Al Franken.
New Yorker | Jane Mayer. Revisiting the case that took down the liberal senator during the crest of the #MeToo movement. (Read)
Etcetera.
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US marijuana use rises, while cigarettes hit a 75-year low

Iowa man uses secret fortune to send 33 kids to college

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College student finds 65-million-year-old Triceratops skull during dig

Ranking the best performing arts theatres in the US

Congolese student with Ebola finds way to take exam

Message in a bottle gets a response, 50 years later.

Clickbait: When your toddler sneaks onto the airplane conveyor belt. 
Historybook: US Post Office is established (1775); FBI is founded (1908); HBD Mick Jagger (1943); HBD actress Dame Helen Mirren (1945); RIP former Argentine First Lady Eva Peron (1952).
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"The trick in life is learning how to deal with it."
- Helen Mirren
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