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More than 1,000 missing after devastating German floods, 100+ dead

At least 100 people have died and about 1,300 are believed missing in Germany and Belgium from a rare flood event that ripped through the region, per AP.

Driving the news: 50 people have died in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, including at least nine residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities, per AP.


  • In North Rhine-Westphalia, state officials put the death toll at 43, but warned that the figure could rise further.
  • During a visit with President Biden on Thursday Chancellor Angela Merkel said "the full extent of this tragedy will only be seen in the coming days."
  • Thousands of people remain homeless after their houses were destroyed by the flooding or deemed at-risk by authorities.
  • The German army has deployed 900 soldiers to help with rescue efforts, per AP.

The big picture: Flash floods this week followed days of heavy rainfall, which caused rivers and reservoirs to burst through their banks.

  • The rainfall amounts had around a 1% chance of occurring in an individual year, making it a 100-year rainstorm.
  • Authorities cautioned that the high number of individuals missing could be due to duplication of data and difficulties reaching people because of disrupted roads and phone connections.

Between the lines: Scientists are analyzing the rainfall amounts for more precise calculations and to determine the role that global warming played in this disaster, but studies have shown climate change increases the odds of and severity of extreme precipitation events.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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