🌎 Down but not out

The US GDP has shrunk for a second consecutive quarter, but labor figures show it's not a recession (yet).
The US GDP has shrunk for a second consecutive quarter, but labor figures show it's not a recession (yet).
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US economy shrank for a second consecutive quarter. It’s not necessarily a recession, but it increases the likelihood of one.

Trader Joe’s got its first unionized store. A majority of 45 to 31 workers at a Massachusetts location have voted to organize.

Apple and Amazon revenues were better than expected. But the bad news is sales growth has slowed down and profits fell.

Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf club is hosting the Saudi-backed LIV tournament. The new golf series has sparked controversy in the sport dominated by the PGA Tour.

Flash flooding swept parts of Kentucky. At least eight people have died as heavy rains inundated homes and roads.

Brazil approved a highway through the Amazon forest. Critics fear the project will facilitate illegal logging and deforestation.

Argentina’s government created a superministry. The ministries of economy, productive development and agriculture, and livestock and fisheries merged into one office to tackle the economic crisis.

What to watch for

Beyonce and several dancers wearing neon yellow-green outfits that are very fun. Beyonce is holding a microphone and the wind is in her hair.
Beyoncé—shown here not taking a break—performing at the Oscars in March 2022.
Photo: AMPAS Handout (Getty Images)

Beyoncé’s Renaissance is upon us. Queen Bey’s first solo studio album in six years comes with a cushy month’s notice, instead of her typical surprise drop. The result: a month that lets anticipation rise to a fever pitch. The album—whose vinyl and merchandise are already sold out in the official store—is the first of a three-part project the star recorded during the pandemic.

The debut single, “Break My Soul,” came out in June, providing the hip-hop soundtrack the burnout generation didn’t know it needed. “My intention was to create a safe space, a place without judgment, a place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom,” says Beyoncé.

Ever the powerful channel of society’s most urgent movements, the artist is unafraid to break the mythology of her own overworking, and Renaissance is likely to be a joyful encouragement to Take. That. Break! And if Beyoncé says it, who are any of us to disagree?

Clean energy fights inflation

Two weeks ago, US senator Joe Manchin scuttled a major climate spending bill, reasoning the world needs more fossil fuels today, not less.

Now he’s agreed to back the latest version of the same bill, which includes the US’s biggest-ever check for clean energy—$369 billion. Its title, the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” drops any reference to climate change, a political move that is also a sign that Congress is recognizing clean energy as a key solution to inflation, not a cause of it.

⬆️ Fossil fuels have experienced particularly extreme inflation since Russia invaded Ukraine.

⬇️ Solar and wind power are both free and inexhaustible, and their related technologies get cheaper as they scale up.

⬇️ A shift to clean energy puts emphasis on electricity, which is more regulated and price-controlled than something like gasoline.

⬇️ ⬇️ It also lowers the cost of climate change impacts, for which global insurance companies paid $40 billion in the first half of 2022.

Call the midwife!

In the US, midwifery was once a Black woman’s trade. In the words of British-trained midwife Jennie Joseph: “Slave women delivered America.” But over time, racist and economic barriers pushed Black women out of the gynecological field, only to be replaced with mostly white doctors. Today, 90% of US midwives are white.

Demand for midwives in the US is on the rise, and more women of color are entering the field. Many seeking to become midwives want to provide “racially concordant care,” or healthcare where the provider and patient come from the same racial background. According to one survey, personal experience with medical racism has also strongly motivated aspiring midwives to take matters into their own hands.

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Surprising discoveries

Sprite is scrapping its green bottle. Clear plastic will be used instead to improve recyclability.

Dangerous bacteria were detected in the US for the first time. B. pseudomallei has previously only been found in parts of Asia, Australia, and Latin America.

The Loch Ness could have had monsters. A fossil found in the Sahara Desert suggests some early marine reptiles could live in fresh water, such as certain lakes.

The richest woman in Asia lost half of her $24 billion fortune. China’s property market crash spelled bad news for Yang Huiyan’s investments.

AI DeepMind can predict the shape of almost every known protein. The technology could further research in a field called “metaproteomics.”

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