7.31.2023

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Good morning. It's Monday, July 31, and we're covering the cybersabotage race, another milestone for an American athlete, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Malware Hunt

The Biden administration is actively searching for malware it believes was secretly installed by China in systems controlling the United States' power grids, water infrastructure, and more, according to reports over the weekend.

 

Concerns about China's ability to attack critical US infrastructure have increased in recent years. The 2023 Annual Threat Assessment from the director of national intelligence said China "almost certainly" has the capability to disrupt key US systems. The nation's top cybersecurity official, Jen Easterly, called Chinese cybersabotage capabilities a top threat at a public forum last month. In May, Microsoft said it uncovered evidence that Chinese-affiliated hackers installed malware in Guam, home to a significant US military presence.

 

Some estimates concluded China had between 50,000 and 100,000 individuals engaged in global cyberwarfare. Details on specific systems, structures, and locations—and how widespread the problem is—involved in the current probe were not revealed. 

 

Ledecky Passes Phelps

US swimmer Katie Ledecky claimed her 16th individual gold medal at this month's World Aquatics Championships in Japan, surpassing US legend Michael Phelps' 15. She also won a record sixth gold in the same individual event—the 800-meter freestyle, where she owns the top 30 fastest times globally.

 

The milestone comes 11 years after Ledecky's debut at the Olympics in London at age 15, where she won gold in the 800-meter freestyle (see bio). She has since won six more Olympic golds and 21 world golds, including team events, firmly establishing her as the winningest woman swimmer ever. She currently holds the world record in the women's 800-meter and 1,500-meter freestyle events. Only two others—Phelps and fellow American Ryan Lochte—have more total world medals than the 26-year-old Marylander.

 

Elsewhere at worlds, Australian swimmer Mollie O'Callaghan became the first woman ever to sweep the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle events. See the tournament medal table here.

 

Bombing in Pakistan

At least 44 people were killed and almost 200 others injured after a bomb exploded during a political rally in northwest Pakistan yesterday. The violence comes ahead of general elections in the country, scheduled for November. 

 

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as of this writing, which appeared to target supporters of Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl. The religious-political faction is a part of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's governing coalition and espouses hardline Islamist views—though is perceived as not strict enough by some jihadist groups. The region was also the stronghold for the Taliban affiliate Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan until it was forced out by the country's military in recent years. 

 

The attack came hours before Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng arrived in the country's capital of Islamabad to celebrate economic ties between the two countries. See footage of the aftermath here

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Moroccan defender Nouhaila Benzina becomes first player to wear a hijab at the World Cup (More) | See latest group standings and schedule (More)

> "Barbie" hauls in $93M in its second weekend at US box office, one of the best second weekends ever; the film's total international box office is now at $744M (More)

> Kanye West's X (Twitter) account reinstated after eight months following ban for posting antisemitic content (More)

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Science & Technology

> Jupiter 3, a large-scale satellite meant to provide broadband service for rural areas, launched successfully via a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket over the weekend (More)

> Researchers use quantum computer to identify new molecular candidate—a chain of hydrogen atoms—for use in solar cells; result marks a potential real-world application produced from quantum computing (More)

> Scientists revive 46,000-year-old roundworms recovered from permafrost in Siberia; the low temperatures put the creatures in a near-suspended metabolic state (More) | What is cryptobiosis? (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher Friday (S&P 500 +1.0%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +1.9%); S&P 500 on three-week winning streak (More)

> Exxon Mobil and Chevron shares fall after posting earnings roughly 50% lower than last year’s second quarter amid reduced energy prices (More)

> Federal judge rejects second attempt by Johnson & Johnson to resolve talc lawsuits via bankruptcy filing (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Fifteen-member West African economic bloc condemns last week's coup in Niger, threatens force if coup leaders do not reinstate captured President Mohamed Bazoum within a week (MoreSee group background, which represents close to 400 million Africans (More

> Federal judge in Florida dismisses $475M defamation lawsuit brought by former President Donald Trump against CNN in October; Trump alleged network associated him with Nazism (More) | President Joe Biden publicly acknowledges 4-year-old seventh grandchild for first time; comes one month after son Hunter settled paternity case (More

> US aid worker and her child kidnapped in Haiti while on ministry duty near Port-au-Prince; State Department urges nonemergency personnel to leave country (More)

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Etcetera
 

The risks of mouth-breathing during sleep—and how to stop.

 

Phoenix hits 30 consecutive 110-degree days.

 

The US Women's World Cup team's reading list.

 

Zoomers jump-start the mocktail market

 

Some fried oddities from state fairs around the US.  

 

Pair climbs 14 tallest peaks in three months, shattering record.

 

Fifty Vietnam vets receive Bronze Stars 50 years later.

 

When your bank withdraws $100B from your account. (via Reddit)

 

Clickbait: Bear cools off in Jacuzzi amid heat wave

 

Historybook: Seventeenth US president Andrew Johnson dies (1875); Entrepreneur Mark Cuban born (1958); "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling born (1965); START I signed by the US and Soviet Union to begin nuclear arms reduction (1991); Basketball legend Bill Russell dies (2022). 

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