7.17.2023

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Good morning. It's Monday, July 17, and we're covering negotiations over critical grain exports, a week of seismic activity in Alaska, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Grain Deal Deadline

A deal keeping millions of tons of grain moving out of Ukraine via the Black Sea will expire tonight if Russia does not renew the agreement, a potential shock to World Food Program-reliant developing countries and global food prices (see breakdown). 

 

The Black Sea Grain Initiative has released over 30 million tons of grain—mostly wheat, corn, and sunflower (see data)—since it was brokered last July. The accord allows Ukrainian vessels from three ports to safely navigate a Russian-blockaded Black Sea corridor through the Bosporus strait in northwest Turkey, where departing and returning ships are inspected for deal compliance (see map). The deal has faced expiration three times, ultimately being renewed amid diplomatic pressure on Russia.

 

To keep the deal going, UN officials offered to partially restore Russian access to a Belgium-based international financial payments system known as SWIFT. See updates here.

 

Rumbles in Alaska

Alaskans spent the weekend experiencing an uptick in seismic activity, with a series of volcanic eruptions from the remote Shishaldin Volcano Friday followed by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake late Saturday morning off the southwestern coast, which briefly triggered a tsunami warning.

 

The volcano is nestled in the middle of the sparsely populated Aleutian Islands, part of the archipelago making up the Alaskan peninsula. Shishaldin started exhibiting low-intensity eruptions Tuesday but began Friday with a burst that sent an ash cloud nearly 40,000 feet in the air. Meanwhile, the Saturday earthquake was the strongest to hit the area since an 8.2 magnitude quake in 2021. The tsunami warning was canceled early Sunday morning, with minimal impact from the tremors.  

 

The region sits along the northeastern ridge of the "Ring of Fire"—a set of tectonic boundaries that encircle the Pacific basin, giving rise to numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes along its perimeter. See an overview of the subject here (w/video).

 

Wimbledon Upsets

History was made at Wimbledon over the weekend after the Czech Republic's

Markéta Vondroušová upset No. 6 Ons Jabeur, becoming the lowest-ranked winner and first unseeded woman to win Wimbledon. The tournament, held in London since 1877, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and one of the sport's four Grand Slam championships. 

 

The win capped a magical run for Vondroušová, who was once ranked No. 14 in the world and reached the French Open finals in 2019 but has dealt with a string of injuries in recent years. The loss left Jabeur, hailing from Tunisia, still searching for her first Grand Slam victory—she finished as runner-up at both Wimbledon last year and September's US Open. Vondroušová had also beaten three top 10 players en route to Saturday's final match. 

 

On the men's side, top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz beat No. 2 Novak Djokovic in a five-set thriller that lasted more than four-and-a-half hours. The win is the 20-year-old Alcaraz's second Grand Slam title and snaps Djokovic's run of four straight Wimbledon championships. 

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Jane Birkin, British-French actress, singer, and fashion icon who was the inspiration for the Birkin bag, dies at 76 (More)

> "Mission: ImpossibleDead Reckoning Part One" hauls in $235M at the global box office, including franchise opening weekend records in 35 worldwide markets (More)

> MLS' Inter Milan officially confirms signing of soccer superstar Lionel Messi (More) | LeBron James switching jersey number from No. 6 back to No. 23 to honor basketball legend Bill Russell who died last year (More)

 

Science & Technology

> New study suggests modified version of Tau proteins—which help stabilize nerve cells in healthy brains—are more likely to form tangled structures seen in patients with Alzheimer's and dementia (More)

> X-ray analysis reveals a set of ancient illustrations beneath the existing paintings on the walls of Egypt's Theban Necropolis archaeological site (More)

> Astronomers detect an "ultracool" brown dwarf star burning at roughly 800 degrees, or cooler than a typical campfire; object is the coldest star on record still emitting radio waves (More) | How radio astronomy works (More)

 

Business & Markets

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> US stock markets close mixed Friday (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq -0.2%) as big banks deliver better-than-expected earnings (More)

> United reaches preliminary $10B deal with pilots, including potential raises of up to 40% (More)

> Twitter’s cash flow is still negative with heavy debtload and nearly 50% revenue drop, per Elon Musk tweet (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Country-wide heat wave leaves 100 million Americans under heat advisories over the weekend, stretching from Oregon to Florida (More) | Phoenix reached 118 degrees Saturday, on pace to break the record this week of consecutive days above 110 degrees (More) | Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu briefly hospitalized for dehydration amid heat wave (More)

> Four killed in mass shooting south of Atlanta, Georgia, Saturday morning; suspect, identified as Andre Longmore, found dead by US marshals (More) | See mass killings database (More

> Four people dead, three others missing, after flash floods hit Philadelphia area (More) | At least 31 people killed as heavy rains trigger landslides and flooding in South Korea (More)

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Etcetera
 

The most popular US cities

 

The year's funniest pet photos.

 

... and ranking the best television shows of 2023.

 

The heat index explained in 90 seconds

 

Mapping Dairy Queen's dominance of US counties

 

NBA star Steph Curry posts a hole-in-one on the golf course.

 

Crows, magpies repurpose antibird spikes in nests

 

Passenger crash-lands plane on Martha's Vineyard after pilot collapses.

 

Clickbait: The nun who kissed Elvis

 

Historybook: Tsar Nicholas II and his family are executed (1918); Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California (1955); Jazz singer Billie Holiday dies (1959); Broadcast legend Walter Cronkite dies (2009); Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot down, 298 killed (2014).

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