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Good morning. It's Monday, Aug. 14, and we're covering search and rescue efforts in Maui, politics and pork chops in the Midwest, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Maui Death Toll Rises

The number of confirmed victims of last week's devastating wildfires in Maui rose to at least 93 over the weekend as search and rescue teams began working through the remains of the town of Lahaina. The disaster is the deadliest US wildfire in more than 100 years, surpassing California's 2018 Camp Fire, which left 85 people dead and caused more than $10B in damage. 


The specific cause of the Maui fires has not been determined. However, once ignited, the flames were fed by dry conditions and fanned by high wind gusts from nearby Hurricane Dora (see previous write-up). The fires in Lahaina reportedly outpaced emergency responders and left panicked residents little time to evacuate. Experts have also pointed to longer-term effects that likely exacerbated conditions, including extra flammable nonnative grasses and shrubs that have spread across the islands.


The death toll is likely to rise, officials warned, with cadaver dogs having searched less than 3% of the affected area as of yesterday. See photos of the aftermath here


Slow Advances in Ukraine

Ukraine's armed forces have pushed over 10 miles into two separate portions of Russian-occupied territory along the conflict's southeastern front, according to officials over the weekend. 


Analysts described the advances—which come amid Ukraine's grinding, monthslong counteroffensive—as a partial tactical success, as they appeared to deplete Russian troops. Advances from primarily small tactical units pressed into Staromaiorske in Donetsk Oblast and the town of Robotyne further west in Zaporizhzhia Oblast (see maps) in an attempt to cut off Russia from its occupied territories in the south. 


Elsewhere, Russian forces shot down three Ukrainian missiles headed toward the Kerch Bridge connecting the annexed peninsula of Crimea with Russia Saturday; the bridge has been damaged twice since the war began.


Separately, a Russian patrol ship fired a warning shot at an unresponsive cargo vessel in the southwestern Black Sea, the first such incident since Russia withdrew from a deal to allow grain exports last month. See more war updates here.


Iowa State Fair

Republican presidential hopefuls descended on the city of Des Moines over the weekend, shaking hands and flipping burgers at the Iowa State Fair in a bid to connect with voters. The festivities have become a quadrennial obligation for candidates due to the state's position as the first primary vote. The Jan. 15 Iowa caucus results provide momentum to top vote-getters heading into the rest of the primary slate—though they've only predicted the eventual GOP nominee three times since 1976. 


Much of the attention focused on former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who avoided direct contact while meeting with crowds. Trump currently leads DeSantis by almost 30 points in the fair's informal straw poll.


The events come ahead of next Wednesday's first Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Eight candidates in the crowded primary field have qualified to be on the stage (see list)—though Trump has not yet confirmed whether he will attend.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> Spain, Sweden, Australia, and England reach semifinals of 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup; see preview of semifinal matches, which begin tomorrow (More)

> Tom Jones, creator of the longest-running musical in history "The Fantasticks," dies at 95 (More)

> Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Gregg Popovich, and Becky Hammon highlight group of 12 from 2023 class inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (More)

From our partners: A cash rewards dream. This card offers 2% cash rewards on purchases (no more tracking categories) and a generous welcome bonus. It's no wonder The Ascent's independent team of experts consider it one of the best all-around cards they’ve seen. Learn more.


Science & Technology

> NASA says its Psyche mission, the first to probe a metal-rich asteroid, is on track for an October launch; such asteroids are believed to be parts of proto-planets, offering a glimpse into the early formation of the solar system (More)

> Researchers demonstrate 3D-printed vegan seafood products, a step toward fish and shellfish alternatives similar to lab-grown meat (More)

> CRISPR-based therapy shows potential in treating fusion cancers, where cancer growth is driven by the accidental combination of separate genes (More) | How does CRISPR work? (More, w/video)


Business & Markets

> US stock markets close mixed Friday (S&P 500 -0.1%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq -0.6%); Nasdaq closes down for second consecutive week for first time in 2023 (More)

> Securities and Exchange Commission investigating gene sequencing biotech giant Illumina’s proposed acquisition of cancer test developer Grail (More)

> Private equity firm Bain Capital to take Chindata private, valuing the Asian data center provider at over $3B (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Five killed, including a child, after house explodes in western Pennslyvania Sunday; cause of explosion, which damaged at least a dozen buildings, under investigation (More)

> Coup leaders in Niger reportedly open to diplomacy with regional economic bloc, according to delegation from Nigeria; West African coalition has threatened use of force after July 26 coup (More) | At least 21 dead, six missing after torrential rains cause mudslides in northwest China (More

> Marion, Kansas, paper and publisher raided by police after reportedly running stories critical of a local restaurant owner; press freedom advocates criticize actions (More) | Paper owner says they were also actively investigating the police chief for alleged previous sexual misconduct (More)

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Photos from the year's best meteor shower.


Basketball star immortalized in butter at Iowa State Fair.


Vancouver schoolhouse relocates via barge.  


Archaeologists uncover a "vampire child" grave.


A trio of simultaneous lightning strikes across Chicago


"Barbenheimer" colors forecast as next design trend


Tennis match interrupted by "Cotton Eye Joe."


Clickbait: There's more to cheese than meets the eye


Historybook: Steve Martin born (1945); Magic Johnson born (1959); Halle Berry born (1966); Blackout in the US and Canada affects 53 million (2003); US Embassy in Cuba opens for first time in 54 years (2015).

"In life, winning and losing will both happen. What is never acceptable is quitting."

- Earvin "Magic" Johnson

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