7.6.2023

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Good morning. It's Thursday, July 6, and we're covering a Silicon Valley clash, an update in a Hollywood cult case, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Meta Takes on Twitter

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has debuted its new microblogging app Threads for anyone with an Instagram account. Meta is the latest entrant in a competition for dominance in the text-based social media market prompted by Elon Musk's shake-up of the market's longtime leader, Twitter. 

 

Threads' functionality resembles Twitter's, with the ability to write short posts, reply, like, and comment, though Meta claims Threads will also eventually be decentralized, allowing users to manage their data across other apps. Twitter boasts roughly 350 million monthly active users with an expected $3B in advertising revenue this year amid Musk's overhaul. Meta hopes its existing base of 3 billion users—and its robust data collection policy—will give Threads an edge in facilitating quick growth. 

 

The news comes as the owners of the rival platforms, Meta's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Musk, feed rumors they'll engage in a cage fight—with Musk most recently suggesting the fight could take place in Rome's iconic Colosseum.

 

Global Heat Records

The average temperature across the world reached its highest mark in more than four decades of recordkeeping Tuesday, with record temperatures observed in places ranging from Canada to Beijing.

 

The measurement is technically unofficial—the data were taken by the University of Maine's climate simulator, a platform that incorporates global satellite data and numerous computer simulations and is used by federal agencies in climate projections. Worldwide, measurements showed an average temperature of 62.9 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1.8 degrees above the 1979-2000 average (the analysis uses records dating back to 1979). 

 

Scientists attribute the heat to a range of factors beyond climate change, including warmth in the North Atlantic Ocean and the formation of an El Niño weather pattern (see overview). 

 

NXIVM Recruiter Released

Former "Smallville" actress Allison Mack, who was convicted in 2021 for her role in a cultlike sex-trafficking group known as NXIVM, has been released early from a federal California prison after serving two years of her three-year sentence. The 40-year-old, who was charged with racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges, was released on good behavior Monday, according to reports yesterday.

 

Mack had been a high-ranking recruiter for the NXIVM (pronounced nex-e-um) group, led by Keith Raniere, which operated behind the facade of a multilevel marketing scheme selling executive development seminars. Mack—along with others, including Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, who was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in 2020—had helped Raniere operate a “master-slave” structure that branded women with his initials and attempted to control them via blackmail. 

 

Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison in 2020 on charges of sex trafficking, racketeering, and other crimes (see timeline). Mack received a lesser prison sentence for assisting prosecutors in their case against Raniere.  

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> King Charles III receives Scotland's crown jewels at coronation celebration in Edinburgh (More)

> "Just Stop Oil" protestors interrupt play twice at Wimbledon (More) | Golf's US Women's Open begins today with a record $11M purse, including $2M for the winner (More)

> Music containing AI-generated elements will be eligible to receive Grammy nominations (More) | Coco Lee, Hong Kong-born pop singer who voiced Mandarin version of Disney's "Mulan," dies at 48 (More)

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Science & Technology

> Japan's Port of Nagoya, the country's busiest hub for ocean commerce, reopens after a Tuesday ransomware attack forced operations to a standstill (More)

> Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head, diagnosed in a female professional athlete for the first time (More)

> New study reveals mechanism that halts cell division; insights may shed light on how to prevent cancer recurrence (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.2%, Dow -0.4%, Nasdaq -0.2%) ending three-day streak of gains for S&P 500 and Dow (More)

> General Motors Q2 sales up 19% over last year to nearly 692,000 cars sold, including almost 16,000 electric vehicles (More)

> UPS and union representing 340,000 workers say negotiations are stalled on a new labor contract, which is set to expire at the end of the month (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Philadelphia mass shooting suspect charged with five counts of murder after opening fire in the neighborhood of Kingsessing earlier this week; suspect also faces other charges, including carrying a firearm without a valid permit (More) | See our previous write-up (More)

> Israeli military withdraws troops from the West Bank city of Jenin, ending its two-day raid in a refugee camp that killed at least 13 Palestinians (More) | Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, and the UK launch case at the International Court of Justice over Iran's downing of a Ukraine flight in January 2020, which killed 176 people (More)

> Officials investigating who brought cocaine into the White House after Secret Service discovered the substance Sunday near West Wing entrance where visitors are asked to keep their phones in small cubbies (More

 

In-Depth

> The Grogue Wars of Cabo Verde

The Conversation | Staff. Tensions arise between farmers and the Cabo Verde government as the West African nation seeks to regulate the production of grogue, a centuries-old sugar cane-based craft spirit, to bolster the rural economy. (Read)

 

> Brazil's Bank-Robbing PCC Gang

Bloomberg | Jesse Hyde. How Brazil's PCC prison gang, inspired by Hollywood heists, stole $23M through carefully executed bank robberies and expanded into cocaine trafficking, posing a significant challenge for law enforcement. (Read

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Etcetera
 

Over 1,500 Disney items will soon be up for auction, including a $5K trash can.

 

Cape Cod is the newest hot spot for great white sharks.

 

… and a string of recent shark attacks reported off the East Coast.

 

Sliced-on-the-spot deli meat coming to some Subway locations.

 

The real story behind Indiana Jones’ Archimedes Dial.

 

Contest winner eats key lime pie in three minutes and 35 seconds.

 

Wimbledon updates its 146-year-old dress code.

 

Photographer catches stunning shot of an aurora over an Icelandic waterfall.

 

Clickbait: Paul McCartney blames Bruce Springsteen for long concerts.

 

Historybook: Artist Frida Kahlo born (1907); First MLB All-Star Game held (1933); President George W. Bush born (1946); Althea Gibson becomes first African American to win Wimbledon (1957); Louis Armstrong dies (1971).

"Musicians don't retire—they stop when there's no more music in them."

- Louis Armstrong

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