Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Friday, July 9, 2021:


STORM: Tropical Storm warnings are in effect from New Jersey to New England this morning as the remnants of Elsa are motoring up the I-95 corridor after pounding the Southeast with heavy rain and at least one tornado. NYC is already recovering from flash floods spawned by earlier thunderstorms, but the good news for the Northeast is that the system is moving fast and should be out to sea by dinnertime. TRACK

HEAT: The extreme heat continues in the Southwest this weekend. Death Valley is forecast to reach 130 on Sunday, within striking distance of the all-time global record once again. In the Pacific Northwest and Canada, the recent heat wave would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change, according to scientists. The effects of that unprecedented heat are still being felt -- marine biologists estimate that at least a billion sea creatures like mussels, clams and snails cooked to death in their shells on Canada’s Pacific coast. GUARDIAN


All American combat troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of next month, President Biden said as he forcefully defended the speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops from that country. The president said that the Afghan people must be in charge of their own future and that it was no longer the U.S. military’s job to keep the peace amid what is essentially a civil war. Asked whether the two-decade war was a failure, Biden said: “The mission hasn’t failed -- yet.” STARS & STRIPES


Pfizer and BioNTech are developing a booster shot that targets the Delta variant, though the two-shot regimen of their current vaccine still offers the “highest levels” of protection against all known COVID variants, according to Pfizer. If necessary, the booster would be offered to people within 12 months of their initial shots. Meanwhile, the CDC and FDA released a joint statement saying that fully vaccinated people “do not need a booster shot at this time.”CNN


Haitian authorities arrested more than two dozen people, including two U.S. citizens, in the manhunt for suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Police say a heavily armed commando unit made up of 26 Colombians and two Haitian-Americans was responsible for the attack. The masterminds are still thought to be at large. The country is essentially under martial law, with civilians joining in the search for the killers. U.S. government officials reportedly told Congress that Moïse's security detail did not exchange gunfire with the assailants and none of the guards were injured -- raising questions about whether the hit was an inside job. NY TIMES


The FDA is drastically narrowing the suggested use of the controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm. The drug will now only be recommended for patients in early stages of the disease, rather than all patients regardless of the stage of their memory loss. The FDA’s original approval of Aduhelm, made by Biogen, sparked debate over how well it actually worked in trials, and how much the treatment -- at $56,000 per year -- would blow up Medicare, especially if older and sicker patients took it without there being an agreed-upon benefit. STAT


If all goes according to plan, Richard Branson will reach the edge of space this weekend. The next Virgin Galactic test flight, VSS Unity, will be carrying the company’s billionaire founder when it launches from Spaceport America in New Mexico on Sunday morning. Branson and three other passengers will hit more than three times the speed of sound when they undock from a mothership and then swoop directly up toward the outer boundary of space, where they will hang in microgravity before gliding back down to Earth. The whole event is expected to last about an hour, and it’ll be streaming live: WATCH


Shohei Ohtani is the best hitter in baseball, leading the league with 32 homers. He also happens to be among the best pitchers in the game right now, 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA. The last time the MLB’s best hitter was also among its best pitchers was more than 100 years ago, when Babe Ruth went two-ways in the 1918-19 season. The 27-year-old phenom out of Japan is also the first player to make the All-Star team as both a hitter and pitcher, which fans will get to witness next Tuesday. Ohtani is in the middle of what many baseball writers agree is the best season by any player in MLB history, and it's only half over. LA TIMES


It’s been two years since a Marvel superhero movie premiered on the big screen. That changes today with the release of Black Widow. The movie is looking at a monster open -- expectations are as high as $140 million in global ticket sales. The catch is that the Scarlett Johansson flick is also streaming on Disney+ for an extra $30, but that’s not expected to put much of a dent in the opening box office because of the huge pent-up demand to see a big Marvel blockbuster in the theater. DEADLINE


...Barron Trump, towering over his mother as they hit the streets in NYC. The youngest of the Trump clan is said to be 6’7 at just 15 years old: NY POST

… a rare Leonardo da Vinci drawing, about the size of a Post-It, selling for a record $12.2 million at auction: SEE IT


A rising high school freshman from Louisiana became the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Zaila Avant-garde, 14, was crowned the winner after she correctly spelled the word ‘murraya' (a type of tree found in South Asia). Zaila was already something of a gifted child heading into the competition: she has three Guinness World Records for basketball dribbling and juggling, divides large numbers in her head, and speed reads. Here’s the moment she won: WATCH

Listen to the N2K Podcast! Looking for more context and analysis on the big stories of the day? Check out our podcast! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!

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