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Major wildfires scorch U.S. West amid severe heat wave

More than 14,200 wildland firefighters have responded to 67 major fires primarily across the Western United States that have burned approximately 918,000 acres, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The West is in the midst of a climate change-fueled megadrought and its third heatwave of the summer, both of which are contributing to substantial and mostly uncontained fires that have forced thousands of people to evacuate and claimed an undetermined number of homes, according to AP.


The Bootleg Fire, located 15 miles northeast of Beatty, Ore., is the largest active wildfire in the country, burning at least 201,923 acres so far and threatening several homes. It was 0% contained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

  • Beckwourth Complex is the largest active incident in California. The two large fires that make up the complex have burned 92,988 acres and were 46% contained as of Tuesday morning.
  • The River Fire near Yosemite National Park jumped to 9,500 acres on Tuesday, claiming at least eight structures and threatening 600 more, according to KTLA.

Our thought bubble,via Axios' Andrew Freedman: The West faces a long and potentially devastating wildfire season, with a severe drought locked in place and a series of extreme heat events leading to some of the most combustible conditions scientists have yet observed in some areas.

  • Human-caused climate change has made the heat events, including the Pacific Northwest's recent deadly heatwave, significantly more severe.
  • Separately from these heat events, studies also show global warming is amplifying the risks of large wildfires in parts of the West, with the typical peak of the season still about two months away.

The big picture: Since June 1, at least 67 weather stations have recorded temperatures that either tied or broke all-time heat records, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

  • So far this year, around 33,953 wildfires have burned an estimated 2 million acres, according to the NIFC.

What to watch: The NWS said the heatwave will continue for much of the western U.S. through Wednesday before slightly cooler temperatures arrive later this week.

Go deeper: Last month was the hottest June on record for the U.S.

U.S. women's soccer team loses to Canada, ending chances at gold

The U.S. women's soccer team lost 1-0 to eighth-ranked Canada in the Olympics semifinals on Monday, ending its chances at winning a gold medal in Tokyo.

Why it matters: The loss marks the second straight Olympics the U.S. team will not play in the gold medal match. The team was knocked out by Sweden in the quarterfinals during the Rio Games in 2016.

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Reading the tea leaves ahead of Boston's historic mayoral race

For the first time in history, a white man is not in serious contention to be the next mayor of Boston, a city with a checkered racial history.

Why it matters: The face of Democratic Party politics has changed, with more women and people of color running and winning races. As high-profile races like Boston's — and New York's — attract multiple people of color in a primary, some candidates say that allows for more ideological diversity, as well.

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Rising gasoline prices signal trouble for climate change action

Cutting oil production before we cut our demand for oil could undermine much of the progress that needs to be made on climate change.

Why it matters: If companies cut back on producing oil but consumers don’t cut back on consuming it, demand will exceed supply and prices will shoot up. That’s bad for our pocketbooks and risks the transition to cleaner energy.

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Elite trans athletes decry youth sports bans

TOKYO — While transgender inclusion in elite sports presents some challenging issues, bans on participation in youth sports are simply about hate and cruelty, several top trans athletes told Axios this week.

The big picture: Lawmakers in more than half of the states have considered such bans, and they have been signed into law in at least eight states, though legal challenges remain.

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The case for global warming realism, rather than panic

It’s getting harder and harder to communicate the two essential realities of human-caused climate change: that our failure to slow and eventually stop it is contributing to devastating human suffering all over the world, and that it’s not too late to act.

The big picture: Experts have long told climate communicators —including scientists, journalists and politicians — that disaster porn immobilizes people, leaving them cowering in a corner. You've got to give them a sense of hope, the research shows.

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Simone Biles will compete in her final Olympic event

Simone Biles will compete in the Olympic individual balance beam final, her last event of the Tokyo Games, USA Gymnastics announced Monday.

What's happening: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!" USA Gymnastics tweeted.

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In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 10 highlights

Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Puerto Rico bag its first-ever track gold medal when Jasmine Camacho-Quinn beat American world record holder Kendra Harrison to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday.

The big picture: There was better news for Team USA in the basketball, where the women's national team beat France 93-82 — meaning the Americans are entering the medal round undefeated as they go for yet another gold, Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo. France still advanced to the quarterfinals as well.

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Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe" with Japanese authorities, IOC says

Belarus' Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who's refusing orders to return home, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The sprinter said she wouldn't obey orders and board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's s Haneda airport by team officials Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters. She spent the night in an airport hotel.

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