It was the clearest sign that the end was near: On Friday, the last U.S. forces left Bagram Air Base, the sprawling aviation hub from which warplanes had been launched for two decades. Two days earlier, Italy, Germany and Poland welcomed their last Afghanistan-based troops home. Now fear grips the capital as the government of President Ashraf Ghani seems to flail without a defense plan as the Taliban advance across the country. Those who don’t support the insurgents can take solace in one development: Militias are forming to fight back — possibly a portent of a civil war.
If Canada’s too hot, where is it safe? This week’s deadly record-smashing Pacific Northwest heat wave was unusual, but experts blame climate change. Now they don’t have to imagine what a hurricane-level heat event looks like. In the U.S. and Canada, estimates of fatalities have exceeded 500, and lightning has triggered more than 130 Canadian wildfires after satellite imagery recorded 156-degree surface (not air) temperatures in Washington state. Now the question is whether elected officials around the world will take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions — or continue to debate the science until the next heat disaster strikes.
How bad was it where you are? Email us your experience, including your state/province, first name and last initial, to possibly share in the PDB.
Hurricane Complicates Surfside Collapse Search
The disasters keep coming. The recovery of two more bodies Friday brought the death toll to 22 in the June 24 condominium building collapse in Surfside, Florida. In an effort to prevent further tragedies, a flurry of high rise inspections has prompted the emptying of another residential tower deemed “structurally and electrically unsafe” six miles away in North Miami Beach. With 126 people still missing at Champlain Towers South, authorities ordered the demolition of the intact part of the building as Hurricane Elsa churns through the Caribbean toward Florida, threatening to stymie search efforts and adding urgency to the newly evacuated tower residents’ search for shelter.
It’s time to get back to work. American employers created 850,000 new jobs in June — far better than expected and the best report since August 2020. More than a third were in pandemic-affected hospitality and leisure sectors, like restaurants and bars, showing that the economy, at least, is recovering. Even so, it’s still 6.8 million jobs below pre-COVID levels. Another bright indicator is that older Americans have socked away a record $35 trillion and are now giving it to their heirs, creating a buying and giving spree that can only help the country bounce back.
A reportedly Russian-origin ransomware attack through a network management provider has hit some 200 U.S. companies. A landslide at a Japanese resort town has left 19 people missing. And Bessemer Trust, the wealth management company named by a judge as co-conservator of Britney Spears’ $60 million estate, has filed papers to withdraw from the conservatorship in light of Spears’ opposition.
In the Week Ahead: The Milwaukee Bucks can win a trip to the NBA Finals tonight if they beat the Atlanta Hawks, who trail 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals. Americans will celebrate a somewhat more open, if cautious Independence Day on Sunday. And Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO on Monday.
You know Kevin Smith as the iconic writer, director and actor behind cult favorites like Clerks and Chasing Amy. Today, the comic legend joins Carlos and opens up about how his near-fatal heart attack changed his outlook on life, why he thought his wife was an escort sent to him by Chris Rock and why no one who knew him thought he would be successful. What does this comic book-inspired auteur have to say about the legacy of Stan Lee? Watch now for more.
We all have busy schedules, which makes it hard to create healthy habits that stick. Noom’s behavior change innovation leverages psychology and science to help people live the healthy, fulfilling lifestyle they deserve. Noom focuses on you, your brain, and why you make the decisions you do, so it’s not a temporary fix but a new way of life. Noom will be there every step of the way, with a personal goal specialist to keep you accountable and group chat support whenever you need it.
The last (and only) time a National Hockey League team trailing 3-0 in the best-of-seven finals series came back to claim the championship was in 1942. That’s a daunting feat to repeat even for the legendary Montreal Canadiens, who lost their third straight finals game 6-3 at home to the Tampa Bay Lighting on Friday. Now Florida’s reigning champs can take their second consecutive cup Monday if they again defeat their hosts, achieving the first Stanley Cup Final sweep in 23 years. But there’s a pandemic twist: Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme emerged from isolation last night, and might pull Les Habs together.
When one of their peers is cheating, gamers pounce. A Minecraft speedrunner recently was exposed for software-juiced gameplay, in contrast to another big fat cheater, writes Stuart Ritchie in The Atlantic. Japanese anesthesiology researcher Hironobu Ueshima faked 84 scientific papers, but the mainstream media ignored it. That’s because the research community lets these things slide, and worse: Critics are sometimes attacked, while journals don’t question what they publish. But unlike gaming, these cheats have life-or-death consequences. And all it needs, Ritchie contends, is to cast that same jaundiced eye on colleagues’ work that gamers employ so effectively.
The Soviets said they’d “bury” the West with ideology. But they’re gone, and once-dogmatic China’s steaming toward that goal — by winning at capitalism, observes OZY’s Butterfly Effect column. Its Communist Party just celebrated its 100th birthday Thursday and unlike during its past crises, such as the Cultural Revolution a half-century ago and the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, few see the party ending anytime soon. But there are still fissures in the tightly wrapped society, with worker discontent rising along with China’s Fortune 500 companies, and Xi Jinping’s one-man rule replacing a very successful consensus-based government — so the party will need to stay flexible.
Trigger warning: I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter is a transphobic meme. That’s why trans pseudonymous author Isabel Fall also made it the title of a short sci-fi story. But its January 2020 online publication sparked suspicion that she was a trans-hating troll. She recently told Vox writer Emily VanDerWerff that the backlash, which prompted her to unpublish the story, landed her in a psychiatric facility and a retreat to her male birth gender. While various identity questions linger, the author now awaits a decision: The renamed Helicopter Story is nominated for a Hugo Award, chosen by sci-fi and fantasy fans.
Mars, Mars, Mars. That’s all anyone talks about. But a select group of planetary scientists are joyous about NASA’s recent decision to send probes to our neglected neighbor, Venus. With surface temperature that can melt lead and pressure that can crush visitors, it’s low on humankind’s exploration list. And yet it's Earthlike in many ways, like size, density and gravity. But we know precious little about it. In about eight years, DAVINCI is to sample the poisonous Venusian atmosphere, and VERITAS will map the planet’s surface in hopes of understanding how it ended up a noxious hellscape while Earth became habitable, hopefully for a few more years to come.
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