The numbers are grim. A U.S. intelligence estimate reportedly believes that the Taliban’s rapid advances across Afghanistan could put it on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, within 30 days. Two months later, the Islamic militants could supplant the government that a U.S.-led coalition supported for two decades before withdrawing this summer. So far 10 provincial capitals have fallen, and today reports indicate that the Taliban has captured a prison in Afghanistan’s second city, Kandahar. Some hope that Pakistan, which is widely believed to be helping the militants, could be pressured to convince Taliban leaders to negotiate peace with the Kabul government. (Sources: Reuters, Al Jazeera, AP)
It’sa diabolical anticyclone, which spins the opposite way from a cyclone and traps high pressure. The “Lucifer” weather system has heated Sicily to such an extent that a weather station has registered 119.8 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 C). If verified by experts, it would break the 1999 European record of 119.3, also in Sicily. Across the Mediterranean, similar temperatures scorched Algeria, where 65 people, including 28 soldiers trying to douse flames, died from multiple forest fires raging in the country’s northern mountains. In Northern California, the Dixie Fire has burned 780 square miles and 550 homes and is now threatening new communities. (Sources: AFP, Axios, CNN, AP)
3. FBI: QAnon Dad Killed Kids Over ‘Serpent DNA’
In a grisly example of how conspiracy theories can provide a rationale for the most horrific of acts, the FBI reports that a California surfing instructor charged with killing his two children told them he was combatting “lizard people.” Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, confessed to traveling to Mexico this weekend and killing his toddler son and baby daughter with a spear gun because he believed their mother had passed down “serpent DNA.” In court documents filed Wednesday, investigators said Coleman told them he was “enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories.” Arrested in Southern California, Coleman is due for arraignment Aug. 31. (Sources: NBC, Insider)
4. Shell Agrees to Pay $112M for Old Nigerian Oil Spills
Was it worth the wait? Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to a $111.6 million settlement with Nigerian communities affected by oil spills during the country’s civil war that ended in 1970. The Netherlands-based firm had fought the environmental damage claims, arguing the oil was spilled by combatants, not Shell. But in January, a Dutch court ordered the energy conglomerate to pay farmers in areas of the Niger Delta that were fouled by its oil. A lawyer for one of the communities told The Guardian it was “a vindication” of victims’ perseverance, and said the oil company “ran out of tricks and decided to come to terms.” (Sources: The Guardian, AFP)
Today on The Carlos Watson Show, we are joined by a Hollywood mega-star, one of the country’s most acclaimed actors: Scarlett Johansson. The multi Oscar-nominee takes us behind the scenes of Black Widow and reveals how she physically prepares for demanding action scenes. As one of Hollywood’s busiest actors, she shares how she overcomes burnout and whom she would love to invite to dinner. Don’t miss this special episode with silver screen royalty!
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Luckily, it was for “fun.” Or saving the world from cryptocurrency, if one believes the hacker who yesterday stole more cryptocurrency, about $611 million worth, than ever before. The source, decentralized finance platform Poly Network, pleaded for the funds back. Then the hacker, declaring it was a way to expose a vulnerability, miraculously returned at least $256 million. For some, it was an alarming display of currency exchanges’ weakness, while for others, it was the opposite: The digital coinage was quickly blacklisted, making it nearly impossible to cash out — proving that users needn’t worry that their money isn’t safe. (Sources: Engadget, CNN)
2. June’s US Heat Toll Deemed Higher as New Wave Hits
How hot was it? A New York Times mortality data review indicates that 600 more people died in Oregon and Washington in the latter part of June than statistical norms. That’s three times the number state authorities attributed to that period’s heat wave, particularly from causes not typically associated with heat, like strokes, breathing conditions and heart problems. Forecasters are warning residents of the Pacific Northwest, where few have air conditioning, to again prepare for dangerous heat. It’s the worst expected among heat alerts affecting 175 million people across the lower 48 U.S. states, some peaking today and some lingering into the weekend. (Sources: NYT, Washington Post)
3. Work From Home? Google Might Cut Your Pay
It was bad enough without the break room snacks. Now Google employees who’ve become accustomed to pandemic home-officing could face a pay cut, according to a salary calculator obtained by Reuters. That’s because some of the search giant’s staff live in cheaper areas than where they’d otherwise work. In one case, a Seattle employee chose to travel two hours rather than get docked 10%. The company responded that compensation has always been based on work location, but one economist warned that companies penalizing remote workers may have trouble retaining them. (Sources: MarketWatch, Yahoo, USA Today, Reuters)
What do you think? Would you choose a long commute to save 10% of your salary? Tell us here or on Twitter.
4. Polish Bill to Restrict Media Passes, at a Cost
They risked everything for more control. Poland’s ruling populist Law and Justice Party last night narrowly won parliamentary approval for a bill banning foreign media ownership. It’s clearly aimed at U.S.-based Discovery, which owns TVN, the main news broadcaster willing to criticize the government. That’s alarmed both American and European Union officials and is seen as further eroding Polish democratic freedoms. It also broke the government’s parliamentary majority, as Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin quit over the bill and took his Accord Party with him. The government can survive, observers say, but the moderate’s departure may empower the coalition’s more extreme members. (Sources: Bloomberg, Euronews)
5. With Substitute in Goal, Chelsea Wins Super Cup
He’s a keeper. With Chelsea and Villarreal forced to shoot it out to break a 1-1 tie yesterday, Chelsea’s coach replaced starting goalkeeper Edouard Mendy with Kepa Arrizabalaga, relying on his blocked-goal stats. The data held up as Arrizabalaga deflected Villarreal defender Raúl Albiol’s penalty kick to win the shootout 5-6 and secure UEFA’s Super Cup. European teams will soon face a new juggernaut in Paris Saint-Germain, which just acquired the legendary Lionel Messi, who’ll play alongside superstar Neymar. It triggered a public tongue-lashing of Barcelona, Messi’s estranged former team, from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and is even causing a surge in the value of PSG’s fan-oriented crypto tokens. (Sources: The Guardian, CBS, Forbes, NY Post)