9.5.2023

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Sept. 5. We're back with a roundup from the long holiday weekend, including a once-a-century impeachment trial in Texas, a mud-caked finale at Burning Man, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Texas Impeachment Trial Begins

One of the most high-profile legal proceedings in recent Texas history begins today, as the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) gets underway in the state Senate. Paxton was impeached by House legislators in May on offenses including bribery, obstruction of justice, and misuse of public funds. The Republican-held chamber passed 20 articles of impeachment (read here) by a 121-23 vote. 

 

The trial is the culmination of a monthslong probe launched after Paxton requested $3.3M of state funds to settle a whistleblower lawsuit. In the suit, former aides alleged they were wrongfully terminated after tipping off the FBI to improper dealings between Paxton and donor and real estate developer Nate Paul. Among other issues, Paul is said to have employed a woman with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair in exchange for political favors.

 

A two-thirds majority of the Senate's 30 voting members—Paxton's wife, Angela, is the 31st member, but will not vote or deliberate—is required to remove Paxton from office. See the main players involved here.

 

Desert Revelers Stranded

An estimated 70,000 festival-goers were stranded in the Nevada desert over the weekend after heavy rains created large swaths of impassable mud zones, halting events at the annual Burning Man gathering. Officials said they were investigating one death at the site, though it was unrelated to the conditions.

 

The weeklong event—known for its art, communal activities and atmosphere, and burning of effigies—is held in a 7-square-mile temporary city on the Black Rock Desert playa. One of the flattest places on Earth, the normally arid region saw between two to three months' worth of precipitation over the course of 24 hours. The downpour almost immediately transformed the dry desert surface into a thick layer of mud. Most vehicles became trapped and officials urged attendees to conserve resources, while some made the five-mile hike to the nearest town.

 

Roads out of the venue, which typically see a mass exodus each year, are expected to be passable today. See photos from the week here

 

Jimmy Buffett Dies 

Legendary singer-songwriter and businessman Jimmy Buffett passed away late Friday at the age of 76, with his death announced via an obituary posted to his website. Buffett reportedly succumbed to Merkel-cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer he was first diagnosed with in 2019. 

 

Known for his beach-life-themed rock music, Buffett notched 13 Billboard Hot 100 hits across his six-decade career, including "Margaritaville," "Come Monday," and "Cheeseburger in Paradise." 

 

Beyond music, the Mississippi native successfully parlayed his island escapist persona into a business empire. His projects included a nationwide restaurant chain, a record label, retirement communities, the Land Shark beer brand, and more—while also finding time to author multiple bestselling books. Buffett's holdings were valued at more than $1B, and he was routinely placed high on Forbes' list of wealthiest celebrities. 

 

See Buffett's life in photos here.

 

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Three American men advance to tennis quarterfinals of US Open for first time since 2005 (More) | American teenager Coco Gauff tops former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki to reach quarterfinals (More) | See complete bracket (More)

> Steve Harwell, cofounder and lead singer of Smash Mouth, dies at 56 (More) | Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert film breaks AMC presale tickets record (More)

> Team USA loses to Lithuania at men's FIBA Basketball World Cup, still advances to quarterfinals (More) | Team USA takes on Italy this morning (8:40 am ET, ESPN2) in knockout quarterfinal (More)

From our partners: We aren't given many 21-month grace periods. Oil checks, doctor appointments, Tax Day ... time speeds by between them. But The Ascent found a credit card offering 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months—among the longest we've seen to avoid interest charges. Learn more about this card today.

 

Science & Technology

> India's Chandrayaan-3 moon rover successfully completes its first mission along the surface of the lunar south pole; results on the search for frozen water not yet made public (More)

> New study suggests ancestors to modern humans nearly went extinct roughly 900,000 years ago, with the global population dropping by almost 99% (More)

> Scientists develop an "AI nose," a platform capable of predicting the smell of a substance or chemical solely from its molecular structure (More)

 

Business & Markets

> The US economy adds 187,000 jobs in August, slightly higher than expectations; unemployment rate increases from 3.5% in July to 3.8% in August, the highest level since February 2022 (More)

> Walgreens CEO steps down; Rosalind Brewer was the only Black female leading an S&P 500 business (More)

> Disney and cable giant Charter Communications, which operates Spectrum Cable, continue dispute over contract fees, leading to blackout of ABC, ESPN, and other channels for Charter customers (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy replaces the country's defense minister, citing mismanagement and corruption within the organization (More) | Russian President Vladimir Putin to reportedly host North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for weapons talks (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

> Bill Richardson, former UN ambassador, secretary of energy, and governor of New Mexico, dies at age 75 (More)

> Officials identify 58 victims of August's deadly Maui fires, confirmed death toll at 115 (More) | Rebuild cost for the town of Lahaina, which saw more than 2,100 structures destroyed, estimated at $5.5B (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Catcher Who Spied on Nazis

Smithsonian | Zachary Clary. The story of Moe Berg, a former Major League Baseball catcher, who in 1943 was recruited by the US government to travel overseas to spy on the German atomic bomb program. (Read)

 

> Raider of the Lost Stones

GQ | Alyssa Ages. One man is on a quest to find and document the stones used in the centuries-old tradition of Irish stone lifting, which was discarded during British colonization, before they are lost forever. (Read)

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Etcetera
 

Explore some of the year's best wildlife photos

 

Nineteenth-century shipwreck found intact in Wisconsin waters.

 

"One Piece," the worldwide anime hit, debuts on Netflix.

 

Salivate over America's 12 best burgers

 

Toronto truck spills 5 million bees.

 

Meet Peanut, the world's oldest chicken.

 

... and Mississippi hunters nab a record-breaking gator

 

Explore the architectural allure of holes in buildings.

 

Clickbait: The rise of spite houses

 

Historybook: First Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia (1774); Actress Raquel Welch born (1940); Freddie Mercury born (1946); Voyager 1 is launched, is currently most distant human-made object from Earth (1977); Mother Teresa dies (1997).

"You can have everything in the world and still be the loneliest man."

- Freddie Mercury

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