7.8.2024

 

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Good morning. It's Monday, July 8, and we're covering France's resurgent left, the end of a Mars simulation, and much more. First time reading? Join over 3.5 million intellectually curious readers. Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

France's Left Prevails

France's leftist New Popular Front alliance was projected to win the most seats in yesterday's final round of legislative elections. The news came as an upset to the nationalist-populist National Rally, which ranked first in last week's preliminary round but fell to third place yesterday behind President Emmanuel Macron's centrist coalition.

 

The New Popular Front—led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon—is a collection of leftist parties including socialist and communist groups committed to reversing Macron's pension reforms (see overview). With voter turnout estimated at 67%—France's highest rate in 40 years—the bloc was projected to win a plurality of seats but fall short of the majority needed to secure the prime minister role.

 

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal pledged to resign today following the vote, with negotiations for his replacement expected to last weeks. While Macron had called for this month's snap parliamentary elections (see previous write-up), he has committed to retaining the presidency until the end of his second term in 2027.

 

Mars Simulation Concludes

Four NASA astronauts emerged from a yearlong Earth-based mission over the weekend, having been sequestered in a habitat simulating life inside a base on Mars. The effort is designed to uncover potential unforeseen challenges involved in an eventual crewed voyage to the red planet.

 

Taking place inside a 1,700-square-foot, 3D-printed installation at Houston's Johnson Space Center (see inside), the group spent time growing self-sustainable crops, simulating walks on the Martian surface, and more. The effect of the relative isolation on the crew was also studied. 

 

At an average of 140 million miles from Earth, a one-way trip to Mars could take around nine months each way. The transit time depends on how much fuel is used to accelerate the spacecraft, among many other challenges.

 

NASA does not have a firm target for a crewed Martian mission—potential timelines point to the late 2030s. However, the current Artemis program includes building a lunar orbital station as a steppingstone by 2031. 

 

Beryl Turns to Texas

Beryl was on track to make landfall on the southern coast of Texas as a Category 1 hurricane this morning, the first storm of the 2024 Atlantic season to make landfall in the US.

 

The storm last week killed at least 11 people across the Caribbean and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Now, over 120 Texas counties are under disaster declaration as thousands of people have evacuated. Beryl is anticipated to bring heavy rains, winds, and possibly a storm surge (see 101).

 

The news comes as more than 132 million people across the US are under a heat wave warning, with temperatures breaking daily records across both coasts. Parts of the West—including Arizona, California, and Nevada—have seen record daily temperatures while California battles 21 wildfires, including the Lake Fire, stretching over 16,000 acres and 0% contained as of this writing. The East Coast has witnessed temperatures above 100 degrees, with North Carolina seeing a daily record of 106.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Jon Landau, Oscar-winning producer best known for "Titanic" and "Avatar," dies at age 63 (More) | Khyree Jackson, Minnesota Vikings rookie cornerback, dies in car crash at age 24 along with two former college football players (More)

> Professional wrestler and actor John Cena announces he will retire from the WWE in 2025 after over 20 years with the company (More

> Emma Navarro upsets fellow American No. 2 seed Coco Gauff to advance to Wimbledon quarterfinals (More) | Spain, France, Netherlands, and England reach UEFA European Championship semifinals (More)

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Science & Technology

> The UK releases first-ever guidelines for use and generation of stem cell-based embryo structures; biological models allow researchers to study early fetal development and potentially develop treatments for congenital disorders (More

> Analysis suggests the Antikythera mechanism—a 2,000-year-old mechanical device found on a Greek shipwreck—was built to align with the lunar calendar (More) | The Antikythera mechanism, explained (More) | Everything you need to know about ancient Greece (More)

> Second-known living species of vampire squid discovered in the South China Sea; the first type of the animal was formally described in 1903 (More

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher Friday (S&P 500 +0.5%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq +0.9%) with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closing at record highs as latest jobs report raises hopes for interest rate cuts (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Paramount's board approves Skydance's merger proposal after months of negotiation, paving the way for a formal announcement expected today (More)

> Meme stock influencer Keith Gill (also known as Roaring Kitty) posts indicating possible interest in headphone maker Koss, sending shares up 25% Friday (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Rival Sudanese factions meet in Egypt for reconciliation talks as war approaches 15-month mark, with a reported death toll of over 16,000 people (More) | See background on the war (More)

> Israel-Hamas cease-fire talks set to resume after Hamas reportedly drops demand that Israel commit to ending war, clearing hurdle for US-proposed cease-fire plan (More)

> House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D, NY-8) holds a virtual meeting with committee members to discuss calls for President Joe Biden to step aside from the 2024 race amid concerns over his mental fitness (More

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Etcetera
 

The US' wealthiest suburbs, ranked.

 

The surprisingly rich history of true crime (w/video). 

 

Fifty tons of trash sit atop Mount Everest

 

Pablo Escobar's hippos are still creating chaos in Colombia.

 

First edition "Frankenstein" novel sells for nearly $850K.

 

... and earliest photograph of a US first lady sells for $456K.

 

Barbie exhibit opens at London's Design Museum.

 

How "The Sims" helps some people in real life

 

Clickbait: Tour de France cyclist steals a kiss

 

Historybook: Businessman and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller born (1839); "Gone with the Wind" actress Vivien Leigh dies (1967); Atlantis is launched as final mission of US Space Shuttle program (2011); Former first lady and social activist Betty Ford dies (2011); Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assassinated (2022).

"Change, by its very nature, is threatening but it is also often productive."

- Betty Ford

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