GDP Falls, Kentucky Floods, and the Secret of Youth Sports Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Friday, July 29, and we're covering a second straight drop in US GDP, a devastating downpour in Kentucky, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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GDP Shrinks (Again)

The US gross domestic product fell by an annualized 0.9% during the second quarter of the year, according to government data released yesterday. It marks the second time in a row the metric has dropped, having shrunk by an annualized 1.6% in the first quarter, an indicator typically used to describe an economic recession. 


The downturn follows a steep rise in economic activity during the final quarter of 2021, which saw GDP—a measure of the total sum of the country's goods and services—rise by an annualized 6.9%. Experts cited four-decade high inflation and the Federal Reserve's move to raise interest rates by more than two percentage points this year as drivers of the slowdown.


The contraction comes as unemployment remains near its lowest rate in decades, at 3.6%, with more than 370,000 jobs added in June. Historically, falling GDP is correlated with a rise in unemployment—a relationship known as Okun's Law


Official recognition of a recession in the US is made by the National Bureau of Economic Research, typically long after the fact. Read about the process here.

Deadly Kentucky Floods

At least eight people were killed and many others forced from their homes following torrential downpours in eastern Kentucky yesterday. As of this morning, a number of people remained missing, with Gov. Andy Beshear (D) saying deaths could reach double digits. More than 20,000 customers were without power into the early evening yesterday.


Up to 10 inches of rain fell in the hardest hit areas under a 24-hour period, with the terrain of the Appalachian foothills facilitating flash flooding in many areas. A number of smaller areas near the mountains were hit particularly hard—drone footage showed the town of Hindman almost completely submerged, while video from the town of Hazard captured collapsed roads and water levels rising above bridge decks


The deluge is the second in the past three days in the region, with St. Louis seeing record single-day rainfall Tuesday. See photos from the Kentucky floods here.

Mega Billions

The Mega Millions jackpot reached just over $1B ahead of tonight's drawing at 11 pm ET, making it the third-largest in the multistate lottery's 20-year history. A winning ticket has odds of one in 303 million.


Structured in principle as a means to raise cash for local jurisdictions, Mega Millions pays out roughly half the announced amounts to winners, with the rest collected by the state (see how it works). A popular funding mechanism during the early decades of the US, lotteries were outlawed in the mid-19th century amid the era's religious revivals. State-sanctioned lotteries wouldn't return until 1964, paving the way for today's multijurisdictional behemoths (see timeline). 


Jackpot winners choose between receiving either a lump sum or 29 increasing annual distributions. In case you win, experts generally agree: keep it quiet and hire a team of advisers. 


See the winners of the 10 largest payouts.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Beyoncé's first studio album in six years, "Renaissance," releases today after being leaked on social media Wednesday (More)


> Bernard Cribbins, beloved British actor whose career spanned seven decades, dies at 93 (More) | Rapper JayDaYoungan shot and killed at age 24 outside his Louisiana home (More)


> Baltimore family sues Sesame Place for $25M, alleging discrimination against Black children by costumed characters at the theme park (More)

Science & Technology

> AI platform AlphaFold compiles searchable library of the predicted 3D structure of an estimated 200 million proteins from 1 million organisms, or nearly every known protein in existence, researchers announce (More)


> New "origins of life" reactions discovered; the previously unidentified chemical processes produce the amino acids and nucleic acids that are the components of proteins and DNA (More)


> Scientists demonstrate nano-robot built entirely from DNA capable of studying the forces and mechanical processes inside of cells (More)

Calling all science enthusiasts—


Have you checked out 1440's knowledge hub? Our team of curators has brought together the best resources on the world's most fascinating topics from across the internet. From psychedelics to the big bang, CRISPR to cryptocurrency, and much more—take a deep dive here.


PSThis is a beta platform, so please leave us feedback at [email protected]!

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +1.0%, Nasdaq +1.1%) as GDP falls for second consecutive quarter and earnings season continues (More)


> Amazon shares up double-digits in after-hours trading after posting higher revenues than expected (More) | Apple shares up 3% in after-hours trading after beating expectations, delivering a record $83B in quarterly revenues (More)


> JetBlue reaches deal to acquire Spirit Airlines for $3.8B; combined airline would be fifth largest in the US (More)

From our partners: Reward seeker? Keep reading. This cash back card offers 2% cash rewards on purchases and a generous sign-up bonus. The Ascent's independent team of experts is calling it one of the best all-around cards. Learn more today.

Politics & World Affairs

> Russia launches missile strikes on Kyiv region for the first time in weeks; attacks come on the Day of Statehood, a Ukrainian holiday marking the Christianization of the region (More) | Ukraine steps up counteroffensives in the south; see updates (More)


> President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping hold two-hour-long call amid growing tensions over Taiwan (More) | House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA-12) reportedly plans to visit the island (More) | China-Taiwan relations explained (More)


> House passes CHIPS-plus bill, a $280B research and development package that includes more than $50B to support US semiconductor manufacturing; legislation expected to be signed into law shortly (More)



'He’s Among His Comrades'

WashPo | Michael Ruane. Dedicated in a solemn ceremony this week, the names of more than 43,000 veterans killed in combat were added to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. (Read)

Why Did You Marry That Person?

Freakonomics | Stephen Dubner. (Podcasts) You may have thought you were in love, but economists may argue you were practicing "assortative mating." (Listen)

Lord of the Skies

Business Insider | Noah Hurowitz. The night US Border Patrol agents missed a chance to stop the rise of one of Mexico's most notorious drug lords. (Read)

The World's Deadliest Virus

Kurzgesagt | Staff. Part of a family of viruses named after the Greek spirit of mad rage, the rabies virus has long terrified humans and baffled scientists. (Watch)



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Play youth sports, get gritty


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A McDonald's pickle slice can be yours for $6,288.


The history of America's favorite sandwiches.


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A look into Uber's unique lost and found.


Clickbait: Japanese city turns into a scene from "Jumanji."


Historybook: RIP Vincent van Gogh (1890); NASA is established (1958); 750 million people worldwide watch wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana (1981); RIP Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin (1994).


"It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done."

- Vincent van Gogh

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