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Happy Wednesday friends!

Good morning. Today is the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, or as Neil deGrasse Tyson would call it, the summer solstice. You might think, “If today is the solstice…then what the heck is an equinox?” Here’s a cheat sheet:

  • A solstice occurs when one of the Earth’s poles (today, it’s the north) tilts toward the sun at the maximum angle. The two solstices, in December and June, mark the beginning of winter and summer and give us the longest days and nights of the year.
  • Equinoxes are essentially the opposite of solstices. Deriving from the Latin for “equal night,” the equinox is when the sun is directly over the equator, leading to roughly the same amount of day and night. Spring and fall begin on equinoxes.

Hope you enjoyed your ride on the Magic School Bus. Let’s get to the news.

Cassandra Cassidy, Sam Klebanov, Matty Merritt, Neal Freyman

Banging heard in search for missing submersible

OceanGate Titan submersible underwaterOceanGate/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In the desperate search to find Titan, the OceanGate tourist submersible that disappeared Sunday while diving toward the Titanic wreckage, a glimmer of hope: A Canadian plane using sonar picked up underwater noises in the search area, the US Coast Guard wrote on Twitter shortly after midnight ET.

Searchers detected banging sounds every 30 minutes for four hours, according to an internal US government memo obtained by Rolling Stone. To some experts, these noises at timed intervals indicate the crew is still alive. “If you made a continuous noise, that’s not going to get picked up, but doing it every 30 minutes, that suggests humans,” explorer Chris Brown told the BBC.

But efforts to find the source of the banging have so far “yielded negative results,” the Coast Guard said.

Time is running out

Yesterday afternoon, the Coast Guard estimated that Titan had fewer than 40 hours of oxygen remaining to sustain life, implying that supplies will run out by 6am ET on Thursday.

And we still don’t know what happened to Titan since it went missing on Sunday. Some potential theories:

  • Titan is floating on the ocean surface after suffering a communication outage (best-case scenario).
  • It got tangled in the Titanic wreckage.
  • Or it suffered a disastrous hull breach (worst-case scenario).

Who is on board? The five-person crew includes the CEO of OceanGate, a father-son duo from a wealthy Pakistani family, a British billionaire explorer, and a Titanic expert who has led six expeditions to the wreckage. They are deadbolted inside by at least 17 bolts, according to a reporter who previously took this trip, and can’t get out unless they’re rescued.

‘Extreme tourism’ under the microscope

OceanGate’s Titanic voyages are a part of the growing “extreme tourism” industry that ferries the uber-wealthy to rarely explored places miles above—and below—sea level. But these trips aren’t guaranteed to end with a champagne shower from Richard Branson, and the potential disaster aboard Titan highlights the elevated risks associated with this kind of travel…

especially if the vessel had safety issues. Reports are beginning to emerge that former OceanGate employees and outside industry leaders raised alarms about the safety of Titan years ago, before the company launched its $250,000 expeditions to view the Titantic wreckage. In 2018, OceanGate’s director of marine operations warned that its certification and testing process would “subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible.”—CC, NF

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Tour de headlines

Hunter Biden

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

 Hunter Biden charged by the DOJ. The president’s son reached a deal with prosecutors in which he will plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and enter what’s known as a diversion program for illegal possession of a firearm. As part of the agreement, Biden will admit that he failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes on his income of at least $1.5 million in 2017–2018. This deal will likely allow Biden to avoid jail time, but Republicans in Congress have promised to continue their probes into his business dealings.

 Get ready to restart student loan payments. After more than three years of blissfully not having to pay down student loan debt, borrowers will need to resume writing checks starting in October, the Education Department said yesterday. With about 10% of the US adult population having loans in forbearance in Q1, the impact on consumer spending (and retailers) could be substantial: Analysts estimate that borrowers will collectively pay anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion per month for their student loans, the WSJ reports. That’s a big chunk of the $35 billion/month Americans spend on clothing and department stores, per the Census Bureau.

 Judge strikes down Arkansas ban on gender-affirming care. US District Judge Jay Moody ruled that the state’s ban on transition-related medical care for transgender youth was unconstitutional and permanently blocked it from taking effect. In his decision, Moody wrote the law prohibited medical care that evidence shows “improves the mental health and well-being of patients.” This is the first time that a state’s law restricting gender-affirming care has been struck down by the courts, so it could influence legal battles in the 19 other states that have implemented similar laws.


We’re building homes again, y’all

Crane raising home

Hannah Minn

If your neighborhood reeks of sawdust, it’s because the number of homebuilding projects started rose 21.7% in May from the prior month to the highest level in more than a year, according to the US Census Bureau.

The dramatic spike in home groundbreakings shocked analysts, and it’s great news for a country in desperate need of more pads. The US has 3.8 million fewer houses than it needs, per Freddie Mac.

What’s behind the shortage? The pace of homebuilding has still not fully recovered from the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007–2008. Meanwhile, recent interest rate hikes have made homeowners reluctant to sell (since a mortgage for a new property would be more expensive), contributing to the supply crunch.

But your housing shortage is homebuilders’ opportunity:

  • Residential construction stocks have been crushing it this year: The S&P 500 Homebuilders Select Industry Index has increased 26% since the start of 2023 compared to the broader S&P 500’s 15% gain.
  • And homebuilder confidence has risen for six months straight, per a survey from the National Association of Home Builders.

More homes are coming…the annualized rate of permitting for future construction rose by 5.2% in May from April, indicating that the home-mentum will likely continue into the summer.—SK

Trucking company recruits trucking gamers

Pixelated truck going down the highway.

Francis Scialabba

A trucking company is telling gamers to take it outside. Schneider National, looking to hire drivers, has placed in-game billboard ads on American Truck Simulator, a popular video game that lets players load, drive, and park 18-wheelers in excruciating detail. The game penalizes you when you break road rules and even simulates different types of transmissions, per the Washington Post.

The ads show how desperate the trucking industry is to recruit new talent. US trucking companies were short a record 80,000 drivers in 2021, and that number could reach 160,000 by 2030, according to the American Trucking Association.

While in-game ads usually get roasted by gamers, the reaction to the recruitment drive from virtual truckers has been generally positive. One gamer tweeted, “This doesn’t annoy people,” which is about as cheery as gamers can get.

Using video games for recruitment isn’t new. For two decades, the US military published a free, first-person shooter game, America’s Army, to reach future soldiers before shutting it down last year. An MIT study in 2008 found that the game was the Army’s most positively impactful advertising tool at the time.—MM

Key performance indicators

The unveiling of the Olympic rings on the esplanade of Trocadero in front of the Eiffel tower after the official announcement of the attribution of the Olympic Games 2024 to the city of Paris

Chesnot/Getty Images

Stat: Investigate me for corruption once, shame on you. Investigate me for corruption three times…well, maybe I should do some self-reflection. Yesterday, French police raided the Paris 2024 Olympics HQ, making the upcoming Summer Olympics the third straight to be probed for corruption (both Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021 were accused of buying votes to support their candidacy). To some critics, fraud is as core to the Olympics as getting confused by Peacock. “For us, an event of Olympic proportions cannot be held without corruption,” the anti-Olympics group Saccage 2024 said.

Quote: The “single most incestuous company I ever worked for.”

In an interview with Slate, a Trader Joe’s employee confirmed what many of us already suspected: TJ’s employees like to get frisky with each other. But it’s not limited to hookups in the freight elevator—the manager parties, in particular, are said to result in longer-term relationships, including marriage. While TJ’s lascivious culture is mostly anecdotal, here is some actual data on the occupations most likely to marry their own kind (grocery store clerks are not at the top).

What else is brewing

  • Texas’s power grid operator urged residents to reduce their electricity use yesterday due to a heat wave that has baked the South and caused power outages in several states.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders announced an investigation into Amazon’s safety practices for its warehouse workers.
  • An influential healthcare task force said that most US adults should be routinely screened for anxiety—even if they aren’t exhibiting symptoms.
  • Rivian will join Ford and GM in adopting Tesla’s charging standard.
  • Tickets to see Lionel Messi’s potential debut for Inter Miami next month are averaging about $2,600 on SeatGeek—nearly the same price as resale tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.


Wednesday to-do list

 Elite Nextdoor post: Read the epic saga of the Fort Greene farmers market rash.

 What’s going on in AI? Here are 14 charts that tell the story.

 Smart buys: Here are cheap things you can buy on Amazon that make life easier.

 Russia is not that big: Maps distort how we see the world.


 Small but mighty: Combustion engines are big, heavy, and inefficient. LiquidPiston is reinventing the engine to make it smaller and lighter—but equally powerful. Read about their advancements + how you can invest.*


 On the money: Want fresh tips and insights for mastering your spend and managing your money? Listen to The Money with Katie Show to elevate your money moves. Sponsored by Vin Social.*


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