Making News.

Mandates in NYC

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday an expansion of the mandatory vaccine requirement for city workers, saying all employees must receive weekly COVID-19 testing and wear masks while working if not vaccinated by mid-September. The order affects about 340,000 employees, while roughly 25% of the city’s population remains unvaccinated.

California followed, saying all healthcare workers and state employees must be vaccinated or face similar protocols. In related news, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it would require its medical employees to be vaccinated within the next two months. The department, which oversees 115,000 frontline health workers, is the first federal agency to issue such a mandate.

The decision comes as the more transmissible Delta variant continues to spread, with the strain now accounting for four in five new US cases. Officials say current vaccines remain effective against the mutation, with the vast majority of hospitalizations occurring in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated patients.

Driven by the variant, COVID-19 cases in the US continue to rise, averaging 57,000 per day as of this morning. Deaths, a lagging indicator, remain around 250 per day. Almost 90% of Americans aged 65 and older — the most vulnerable demographic — have received at least one shot (see data).

Seismic Shift in College Athletics

The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma notified Big 12 officials yesterday their schools would not be renewing media rights with the conference when their contracts are up for renewal in 2025. The move effectively sets the stage for two of the most prominent institutions in college athletics to move conferences. Sources say the schools’ official statements leave wiggle room to depart earlier, though they would have to pay up to $80M in penalties.

Rumors suggest the pair are targeting the Southeastern Conference, which dominates the lucrative college football landscape. As of 2018–19, Texas was the top-grossing athletic department, bringing in $224M, while Oklahoma was eighth, bringing in $163M (see list).

The departure of the conference heavyweights may signal the end of the Big 12, one of the so-called Power Five conferences. Should the schools migrate, it may set off a domino effect among the remaining conferences.

Monsoons in India

At least 164 people have died, and another 100 are unaccounted for, as heavy monsoon rains triggered floods in western India. The downpours have continued since Thursday, primarily affecting the country’s Arabian coast, near the city of Mumbai. The death toll is expected to rise, with rescue workers struggling to reach remote areas cut off by the waters. At least 300,000 residents have been evacuated, with thousands relocated to temporary camps. Nine of the victims perished after a rockslide pummeled their vehicle (footage here).

India has endured a number of weather-related disasters in recent months, including devasting flooding in the Himalayan mountains, two cyclones, and an intense heat wave in its northern states. The current flooding also follows record rainfall in Western Europe and Central China.

See how monsoons work here.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Olympics: Lydia Jacoby, 17, becomes first Alaskan to win swimming gold medal (More) | Triathlete Flora Duffy brings Bermuda its first-ever gold medal (More) | Check out today’s full schedule of events including women’s gymnastics team final at 6:45 am ET (More) | See latest medal count (More)

> Britney Spears makes second attempt to remove father as her conservator after new attorney files motion yesterday in Los Angeles court (More)

> Venice Film Festival’s anticipated line-up highlighted by “Dune” and “The Last Duel” (More) | Olympics opening weekend TV ratings see sharp decline from 2016, while streaming numbers are up (More)

Science & Technology

> Hubble Telescope finds first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede (More)

> Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos publishes an open letter to NASA offering to pay $2B to gain a contract to build a reusable lunar lander; the agency awarded a similar contract to competitor SpaceX in April (More)

> Brain study finds image memories are stored in the visual cortex, but the recollection of a series of images relies on assistance from the hippocampus; findings raise new questions around how different regions of the brain interact to support memory recall (More)

Business & Markets

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> Insurance giants Aon and Willis Towers Watson call off a more than $30B proposed merger amid antitrust pushback from the Justice Department (More)

> Tesla outpaces expectations on top and bottom lines; sees first billion-dollar net income quarter, shares up in after-hours trading (More) | Shares of fellow electric vehicle maker Lucid Motors end up 6% on first day trading as public company following SPAC (More)

> Luxury giant LVMH — whose brands include Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, and Moët & Chandon, among others — sees second quarter revenues surge to level higher than same pre-pandemic period two years ago (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Anticipated procedural vote on bipartisan infrastructure package fails to materialize in the Senate as negotiators gridlock over final details (More) | Former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) dies in bicycle accident (More)

> President Joe Biden says the US will end its mission in Iraq by the end of the year as the country pivots to focus on China and Russia (More)

> Tunisian President Kais Saied​ fires prime minister, suspends parliament for one month amid anti-government protests; the political crisis is one of the country’s worst since transitioning to democracy during the 2011 Arab Spring (More)

IN-DEPTH

‘I Only Have Months to Live’

Boston Globe | Jack Thomas. A heartfelt reflection by the veteran journalist after learning he has inoperable cancer. (Read)

Making the Future

Invest Like the Best | Patrick O’Shaughnessy. (Podcast) The host of one of the most popular investing podcasts interviews Marc Andreessen, the head of one of the country’s most successful venture capital firms. (Listen)

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ETCETERA

Transylvanian lamb shepherds top this year’s best iPhone photos.

Happy birthday, insulin!

The tattoos of the Olympics, in photos.

… and this Olympian literally left it all out on the track.

How to draw yourself as a “Peanuts” character. (via YouTube)

Visiting Big Bend National Park? Step over the acid-shooting scorpions.

Scientists observe a beetle walking upside-down on a pond’s surface. (paywall, NYT)

Escape the city life into a giant potato.

Clickbait: The ugly baby challenge.

Historybook: US Department of State is established (1789); HBD figure skating legend Peggy Fleming (1948); House brings impeachment charges against President Richard Nixon (1974); NBA player Reggie Lewis collapses and dies at practice (1993); RIP Bob Hope (2003).

“If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”

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robert massimi

Drama critic for Nimbus Magazine, Metropolitan Magazine and New York Lifestyles Magazine. Producer, editor and writer.