In The News.
No Bull With Raging Robert.
The opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be held today, one year after a pandemic-induced delay forced the suspension of the Summer Games. The city is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone — you can stream the live ceremony beginning at 7 am ET. The Games run through Aug. 8 followed by the Paralympics, held from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
The US will have more than 600 athletes competing across almost three dozen events. Track the medal count here.
Almost no spectators will be allowed after Japan declared a state of emergency through Aug. 22 to combat rising COVID-19 cases. Less than a quarter of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, and infections in Tokyo currently average almost 1,300 per day — four times the rate seen in mid-June.
The proceedings faced an extra layer of dysfunction, with the ceremony’s director having been dismissed a day earlier following reports he made light of the Holocaust during a 1998 comedy routine.
Qualifiers for one of the most-watched events in the US, women’s gymnastics, begin tomorrow. See a full schedule of all the Games here.
Data recorded by NASA’s InSight probe have allowed scientists to determine a rough mapping of the inside of Mars, agency officials reported yesterday. The measurements confirmed previous suggestions that the red planet’s core is partially liquid but much bigger than previously believed.
The probe monitored two types of quakes, those directed toward the surface and shear (side-to-side). Shear waves don’t efficiently transmit through liquid, and measurements of such vibrations suggested a core size of almost 2,300 miles across — more than half of the entire planet’s diameter. It remains unclear whether the planet’s inner core consists of solid metal, similar to Earth (see diagram).
The stationary InSight probe, which arrived in 2018, has been somewhat overshadowed by the arrival of Perseverance, NASA’s rover that came equipped with a helicopter.
The Biden administration announced new sanctions on Cuban officials yesterday, citing human rights abuses in the wake of widespread anti-government protests. The demonstrations were the most significant display of public unrest in the Communist country in almost three decades. An estimated 500 protestors were arrested, many on charges of public disorder and inciting unrest.
The sanctions were levied against Cuba’s defense minister and members of its special forces unit. The targeted sanctions come on top of the broad embargo currently in place barring most travel to and US business with the country. Assets owned by the individuals under US jurisdiction will be frozen, though analysts say the sanctions function primarily as a means to publicly name and shame those accused of violations.
The administration is also reportedly considering a proposal by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to provide internet access to the country — potentially via balloons — in the event of a shut-off.
See the history of US-Cuba relations here.
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IN THE KNOW
Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
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> Former President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen announce coauthored book, “Renegades: Born in the USA,” to be released Oct. 26 (More)
> NFL teams may be forced to forfeit games next season if COVID-19 outbreaks cause delays that can’t be rescheduled (More) | LeBron James becomes first active NBA player to top $1B in career earnings (More) | NHL releases 2021–22 regular-season schedule (More)
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Science & Technology
> Major websites including Chase, video game platform Steam, and HBO knocked offline after a glitch at a third-party services provider (More) | Oil giant Saudi Aramco confirms $50M extortion attempt following data breach (More)
> Albino possums created using CRISPR gene-editing; the approach, the first demonstration of CRISPR in a marsupial, removed a gene controlling fur and eye pigmentation from embryos (More)
Want to learn more about CRISPR? Check out our expert-curated topic page, where we’ve gathered the best and most useful resources on the topic from around the web.
Business & Markets
> An estimated 419,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, a surprise increase above expectations of 350,000 (More)
> US median home sale price reaches record $363K; up 23% over last June (More)
> Shares of Domino’s Pizza surge 11%, with same-store sales up 19% over two years ago (More) | Snap (Snapchat) shares up 17% on strong user growth and revenues (More) | Twitter beats revenue expectations on strong advertisement sales, with shares up 7% (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Attorney General Merrick Garland announces Justice Department initiative to crack down on gun trafficking with pilot task forces in five cities (More)
> Mississippi files direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court, arguing regulations on abortions should be left to the states (More)
Protect and Serve
Tampa Bay Times | Staff. Amid a reckoning over the role and function of police in society, follow 30 recruits who chose to take up the badge in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Read)
… Also, listen to former Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Barksdale discuss challenges facing police departments.
Our Snooping Phones
NYT | Shira Ovide. (Op-ed) Over the past decade, Americans have tacitly agreed to hand over treasure troves of real-time data on our location and behavior, collected by smartphone apps that often make the data commercially available. (Read, paywall)
Politico | Beatrice Jin. The biggest indicator of whether someone is ready to return to a pre-pandemic normal isn’t political affiliation — it’s income. (Read)
The Giannis Story
The Ringer | Mirin Fader. A look at the challenges that forged NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the league’s biggest new stars. (Read)
… who also loves Chick-fil-A.
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Historybook: RIP Ulysses S. Grant (1885); 43 killed, more than 1,000 injured in Detroit Riot (1967); Hale-Bopp comet is discovered (1995); RIP Amy Winehouse (2011); RIP Sally Ride, the first American woman in space (2012).
“All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.”
- Sally Ride
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