8.20.2021

Capitol Bomb Threat, Afghan Protests, and Curing Lyme Disease Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.
 

Good morning. It's Friday, Aug. 20, and we're covering a standoff at the US Capitol, anti-Taliban protests in Afghanistan, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Capital Bomb Threat

The US Capitol complex, Supreme Court, and neighboring buildings were evacuated yesterday during an hourslong bomb threat. The incident began when a suspect drove a black pickup truck onto the sidewalk near the Library of Congress, telling responding officers he had explosives in the truck. 

 

The suspect was identified as 49-year-old Floyd Ray Roseberry from Grover, North Carolina. Police have not publicly identified a motive, though Roseberry expressed anti-government views both during negotiations and in previous social media posts. Roseberry, who insinuated there were multiple bombs hidden around the city, ultimately surrendered after more than five hours. No explosives were found.

 

It was the second such incident since the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol—one Capitol Police officer was killed and another injured in a vehicle attack in April. The threat came as most Congressional officials were out of the city for August recess. 

Afghan Protests

Hundreds of people protested in cities across eastern Afghanistan yesterday, including the capital of Kabul, in the largest show of opposition since the Taliban seized control over the weekend. Several people were reportedly killed in the city of Asadabad after Taliban militants fired into the crowd. The protests came on the country's independence day, which celebrates its departure from British rule in 1919.

 

Contrary to comments they would not seek revenge against citizens, reports this morning suggest militants are carrying out door-to-door manhunts looking for people who worked with the US and the previous Afghan government.

 

Separately, the country's former vice president, Amrullah Saleh, is said to be leading an opposition movement in the northern Panjshir Valley. It is unclear to what extent the effort is capable of resisting Taliban rule. 

 

Most foreign aid to the country, which comprised an estimated 22% of the economy, has been suspended, while the US froze $9.5B in assets owned by the country's central bank. Experts have warned of hyperinflation as the economy grinds to a halt.

 

In related news, estimates suggest Taliban fighters have seized billions of dollars of leftover US military equipment, including a reported 40 aircraft and 2,000 armored vehicles. 

 

Reports suggest up to 10,000 Americans and as many as 65,000 Afghans eligible to leave remained in the country as of mid-week, as the US continues evacuations. Defense officials have said they don't have troop levels to guarantee safe passage for Americans and others to the Kabul airport.

California's Other Wildfire

A fast-growing wildfire continues to rage through Northern California, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate their homes and prompting the US Forest Service to announce a shutdown of the Eldorado National Forest. The Caldor Fire, fueled by dangerously dry and windy conditions, exploded in size, jumping from 6,500 acres Tuesday morning to just over 68,000 Thursday morning, and is 0% contained.

 

The 2021 fire season is on track to break records as fire departments fight almost 100 blazes nationally. California is battling more than a dozen large fires consuming more than 1 million acres burned statewide this year. The Dixie Fire, the state’s second-largest fire on record, has burned more than 678,000 acres (35% contained). In addition, the Cache Fire (20% contained) and the French Fire (0% contained) erupted Wednesday.

 

See images from Grizzly Flats, a town destroyed by the Caldor Fire, here.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Chuck Close, artist best known for his oversized photorealistic portraits, dies at 81 (More) | Sonny Chiba, actor and martial arts legend, dies at 82 of COVID-19 (More)

 

> Newest "Jeopardy!" host Mike Richards faces calls for investigation by Anti-Defamation League over comments he made as a former podcast host (More)

 

> Academy of Country Music Awards becomes first high-profile awards show to have a streaming-only broadcast (More) | Emmy Awards to require COVID-19 testing, proof of vaccination for attendees (More)

Science & Technology

> Moderna, maker of one of two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US, to begin trials of an mRNA vaccine for HIV (More)

 

> Cuttlefish form complex memories similar to humans, study finds; the squid relative is one of the few animals confirmed to show both semantic (fact-based) and episodic (experiential) memories (More, paywall, Science)

 

> Chronically lonely flies exhibit disrupted sleep patterns and a tendency to overeat, new study finds; research points to the possibility of similar effects in humans and other animals (More)

Business & Markets

> The Federal Trade Commission files a new version of antitrust complaint against Facebook accusing the social media giant of monopolistic practices (More) | Facebook unveils Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality product for office meetings (More) | Watch CEO Mark Zuckerberg explain the concept in VR (More)

 

> An estimated 375,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, the lowest figure since the start of the pandemic (More)

 

> The Wall Street Journal reports Amazon plans to open department stores, testing the concept in Ohio and California; shares of Target, Best Buy, and other retailers fall over 1% (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Three vaccinated senators—Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Angus King (I-ME)—test positive for COVID-19; each reports mild symptoms (More) | New US COVID-19 cases reach 141,000; current hospitalizations at 86,000, with average deaths near 860 per day (More)

 

> At least two dead and 17 missing as rescue teams search for survivors after flooding linked to Tropical Storm Fred in western North Carolina (More) | Tropical Storm Henri expected to make landfall in the Northeast overnight Saturday, with rain continuing through the upper Northeast until Tuesday (More)

 

> Stalemate in Texas over as three Democratic state lawmakers end holdout; the Democratic caucus walked out of a special session in July, preventing quorum (More) | President Joe Biden cancels student loan debt for borrowers with severe disabilities (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

The Lost Tablet

BBC | Nader Ibrahim, Ilya Barabanov. An electronic tablet left behind on a Libyan battlefield provides clues into a shadowy Russian mercenary group. (Read)

Curing Lyme

Outside | Andrew Zaleski. A mystifying and often debilitating illness, researchers are edging closer to finding a cure for Lyme disease. (Read)

Saving the Reefs

Texas Monthly | Juli Berwald. Unlikely allies come together in an effort to save the Gulf Coast's vibrant coral reefs. (Read)

Crypto Cowboys

Rest of World | Meaghan Tobin. Chinese cryptocurrency miners are flocking to Texas in search of lax regulation, cheap power, and brisket. (Read)

A $29B DIGITAL SECURITY MARKET

 

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Learn all about Gryphon’s cutting-edge technology and investment offering before the opportunity closes Sept. 10.

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ETCETERA

 

Three in five US households didn't owe federal income tax last year.

 

The average US credit score hits a new high.

 

Eighth graders lead drive to pardon a 17th-century "witch."

 

OnlyFans struggles to find investors.

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Eleven-year-old Illinois girl launches campaign to save the bees.

 

Watch a squid blast through a deep-sea jellyfish.

 

A Maine town grapples with a rubber duck mystery.

 

Polish Olympian auctions medal to fund an infant's heart surgery.

 

"Jurassic Park" theme song gets remixed (w/chickens).

 

Clickbait: "Can I help you find some sssspicessss?"

 

Historybook: First around-the-world telegram sent (1911); "Valley of the Dolls" author Jacqueline Susann is born (1918); Leon Trotsky fatally wounded in Mexico (1940); NASA launches Viking 1 probe toward Mars (1975); RIP comedian Jerry Lewis (2017).

 

"I've had great success being a total idiot."

- Jerry Lewis

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