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River Loire at Montjean-sur-Loire, western France on July 24, 2019. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

This July surpassed August 2016 as the hottest-ever month on record by 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit, the Washington Post's Andrew Freedman reports.

The big picture: Deke Arndt, head of climate monitoring for NOAA, tells the Post that "July 2019 marked the 415th straight month that was warmer than the 20th century average." 9 of the 10 warmest Julys on record have taken place since 2005, and Arctic and Antarctic sea ice fell to their lowest-recorded levels this July, according to NOAA.

Why it matters, per the Post: Thanks to "increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the air from the burning of fossil fuels, the climate no longer needs a strong natural extra dose of warming in order to set a new temperature milestone," — i.e., a strong El Niño event did not affect July's record-setting temperature as it did in 2016.

Go deeper: Why today's global warming is "unprecedented"

Go deeper

13 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.