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Good morning. It's Thursday, Aug. 17, and we're covering one of the potential causes of devastating wildfires in Hawaii, a record-breaking cross-species organ transplant, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Maui Wildfires Aftermath

The death toll from last week's wildfires in Maui has now reached at least 110 as search and rescue crews continue to find remains from the mostly destroyed town of Lahaina. Nearly 30% of the affected area has been covered by roughly 185 crew personnel and 20 cadaver dogs. Only five of the bodies recovered so far have been identified; roughly 1,300 people are still missing.


While the specific cause of the Maui fires is still under investigation, reports suggest one possible contributor might be a downed power line. Footage captured by a bystander in a Maui neighborhood shows a trail of flames after a utility pole fell amid high winds from Hurricane Dora. See the footage here (via Facebook). 


Three lawsuits have been filed against Hawaiian Electric, claiming the company should be held responsible for the wildfire and deaths. Hawaiian Electric, which services 95% of Hawaii's residents, faces criticism for keeping the power on while high winds knocked down trees and branches, impacting electric lines. The company has opened its own investigation.


The Maui disaster is the deadliest US fire since 1918 (see data visualization).


England vs. Spain

The Women's World Cup final is set after Spain defeated tournament cohost Australia Wednesday 3 to 1, with Spain facing England Sunday (6 am ET, Fox) in the first all-European title match since 2003. Runners-up Sweden and Australia will play for third place Saturday. Watch recaps of the semifinals here.


Both finalists are looking to win their first World Cup title Sunday, in what will be a rematch of last year's European Championship quarterfinals, which England won 2 to 1. England's Lionesses—the team's nickname—have appeared in twice as many World Cups as Spain ("La Roja," or "The Red One"), having qualified for six tournaments to Spain's three. The final match-up will likely see the return of England's Lauren James, the Chelsea forward who was suspended for two games after stepping on Nigeria's Michelle Alozie (see video). 


Women's soccer has seen significant growth in recent years, with this year's tournament seeing a record 2 billion viewers over the monthlong competition. 


In related news, US women's coach Vlatko Andonovski resigned yesterday, following the squad's underperformance in this year's tournament. 


Pig Kidney Transplant

A genetically modified kidney taken from a donor pig has functioned normally after being transplanted into a brain-dead patient more than a month ago, doctors revealed yesterday. Researchers say the patient had both kidneys removed and was sustained in their vegetative state while relying on the new organ. 


The success relies on advanced gene-editing techniques. The presence of a sugar molecule known as alpha-gal, produced by most mammals but not humans, causes acute organ rejection by the body after surgery. The recent news is the fifth demonstration of kidneys from pigs modified to not produce the molecules being used as transplants. Listen to a deep dive about alpha-gal—also the cause of red meat allergy—here


Last year, a terminally ill patient died two months after receiving a pig heart transplant, possibly due to the organ being infected with an animal virus. Around 8,000 American patients die each year while awaiting organ transplants. 

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Alec Baldwin could face new charges in "Rust" shooting as analysis suggests trigger was pulled (More) | Opera star Renata Scotto dies at 89 (More)

> Little League Baseball World Series kicks off from Williamsport, Pennsylvania; see full bracket and schedule (More)

> Director Saeed Roustayi sentenced to prison in Iran for screening his award-winning film "Leila’s Brothers" at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival (More) | "Barbie" passes "The Dark Knight" to become highest grossing Warner Bros. movie ever at US box office (More


Science & Technology

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> Trio of studies suggests platelet factor 4, a protein found in youthful blood, improves cognition, strengthens brain connections, and spurs neural development in elderly mice (More)

> Ötzi the Iceman had Western Asian ancestry, was likely bald, and had darker skin than European contemporaries, new genomic analysis finds; the 5,300-year-old mummy was discovered by hikers in the Alps in 1991 (More)

> New fossil discovery suggests pterosaurs evolved from small, rabbit-like reptiles that lived roughly 230 million years ago (More) | The difference between pterosaurs and dinosaurs (More)

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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.8%, Dow -0.5%, Nasdaq -1.2%) for second consecutive session (More)

> Target reports quarterly sales decline, misses expectations; CEO cites continued inflation, Pride Month display backlash for lower sales (More)

> Vinfast shares fall 19% after surging in Tuesday’s US trading debut; Vietnamese electric vehicle maker currently valued higher than General Motors, Ford, and other automakers (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Federal appeals court upholds lower court's restrictions to abortion medication mifepristone, finding the Food and Drug Administration didn't follow procedures when loosening regulations; drug to remain available while legal challenges proceed (More)

> Excessive heat warnings issued across the Pacific Northwest as heat dome builds through this week; temperatures expected to reach as high as 110 degrees in parts of Oregon (More) | What is a heat dome? (More)

> North Korea offers first official confirmation of custody of US service member Travis King, who willfully crossed the heavily fortified border from South Korea last month (More) | See previous write-up (More



> Next Slide, Please

MIT Tech Review | Claire L. Evans. A chronicle of the evolution of corporate slideshow presentations, spanning from 35-millimeter film slides to digital projectors and PowerPoint. (Read)


> The iMac at 25 

Verge | Umar Shakir. A visual exploration of Apple's iconic all-in-one computer, which combined a monitor, CPU, storage, and speakers, tracing its origins from the vibrant and translucent iMac models of 1998. (Read)

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Historybook: Actress Mae West born (1893); Robert De Niro born (1943); "Animal Farm" published (1945); President Bill Clinton admits to improper relationship with Monica Lewinsky (1998); Michael Phelps becomes first person to win eight gold medals in single Olympics (2008).

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