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Children try to cool down by eating ice cream July 22 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo:
Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty

Just weeks after floods that killed 200, Japan is facing another threatening natural phenomenon: a heat wave reaching record temperatures nationwide, already reportedly killing at least 70 people.

The big picture: Because of the lack of an El Niño event in the Pacific (which boosts temperatures), 2018 wasn't expected to be a record-shattering hot year, but it's shaping up to be a top five warmest year on record globally. The 106 °F reading, which topped the previous all-time high of 105.8°F in 2013, occurred in Kumagaya, a town 40 miles north of Tokyo.

Why it matters: Intense, long-lasting heat waves are one of the most robust signs of global warming, according to numerous scientific studies. This will compound the challenges and costs for countries working to recover from extreme weather.

  • The floods earlier this month displaced 1.6 million people.
  • Now, tens of thousands have entered hospitals with symptoms of heat stroke and 70 people have died as a result of the heat, according to Kyodo News Agency.

What's next: The heat wave has blanketed the country for two weeks now. Air conditioning remains uncommon in schools and cooler parts of the country, making it difficult for many to find relief.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.