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Up First briefing: Trump's 3rd indictment; U.S. loses AAA rating; heat and the brain

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a political rally while campaigning for the GOP nomination in the 2024 election at Erie Insurance Arena on July 29.
Jeff Swensen
/
Getty Images
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a political rally while campaigning for the GOP nomination in the 2024 election at Erie Insurance Arena on July 29.

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's top news

Former President Donald Trump has been indicted a third time — this time on four counts related to his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The charges include conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.

  • You can read the full indictment here. These are five key points to know about the latest charges.
  • NPR's Carrie Johnson says this indictment is "as serious as it gets." Trump is due in court tomorrow. He was the only person named in the indictment, though six unnamed co-conspirators were mentioned. Johnson says on Up First today that she's watching to see "what the special counsel does next" with lawyers like Rudy Giuliani who helped promote Trump's election fraud claims.
  • Conservative media is mostly deflecting the announcement and arguing that President Biden has politicized the justice department, according to NPR's David Folkenflik. He says Trump still has a firm hold on Republican voters, and outlets like Fox News don't want to drive viewers away.
  • Fitch Ratings, one of the nation's big credit watchdogs, downgraded the federal government's AAA rating to AA+ yesterday, citing a "steady deterioration in standards of governance." The move comes two months after Washington narrowly avoided a potentially disastrous federal debt default.

  • Though Fitch acknowledged the strong U.S. economy, NPR's Scott Horsley says the agency is concerned with "policymaking" and an "apparent unwillingness of both parties to grapple with the long-term challenges of bankrolling entitlement programs." He adds the effects of the downgrade could be limited.
  • Henrietta Lacks' family has settled with the biotech company it says used cells taken without Lacks' consent more than 70 years ago. Lacks was being treated for cancer in the 1950s when Johns Hopkins University doctors took cells from a tumor without her knowledge. The cells have played a role in scientific breakthroughs like the development of polio and COVID-19 vaccines. Her descendants say she and other Black women were never compensated for their genetic material.

    Deep dive

    Extreme heat can slow cognition and increase anxiety, research finds.
    AleksandarGeorgiev / Getty Images
    /
    Getty Images
    Extreme heat can slow cognition and increase anxiety, research finds.

    The next time you have a brain fart, blame it on the heat. Multiple studies have suggested that higher temps can have multiple effects on our cognitive performance, from slowing down reaction times and lowering productivity to making us moody and irritable.

  • Part of this effect could be because it's harder to get a good night's sleep when it's too hot.
  • Researchers also found that heat lowers activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which keeps us calm and relaxed.
  • Another study suggests heat could raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • The good news? Your body adapts to heat after a few days. And the age-old advice of staying hydrated helps too.
  • Picture show

    Andrii Lozovyi stands near some traditional Cossack weapons.
    Claire Harbage / NPR
    /
    NPR
    Andrii Lozovyi stands near some traditional Cossack weapons.

    On a lush, wild island not far from the front lines of the war in Ukraine, a family maintains the traditions of warriors called Zaporizhzhian Cossacks by training people to fight with swords, maces and bare hands. The 17th-century warriors are revered in Ukraine for their insistence on freedom and self-governance. See photos of their training facilities and traditional weapons, and hear their complex history.

    3 things to know before you go

    A Bed Bath & Beyond sign is displayed in 2012, in Mountain View, Calif. Overstock.com is dumping its name online and becoming Bed Bath & Beyond.
    Paul Sakuma / AP
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    AP
    A Bed Bath & Beyond sign is displayed in 2012, in Mountain View, Calif. Overstock.com is dumping its name online and becoming Bed Bath & Beyond.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond is back from the dead — sort of. Overstock.com bought the bankrupt company's intellectual property. Now the home goods retailer is rebranding its website as Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • When Susan Dickman saw six missed calls from the hospital, she rushed over in a panic to check on her dad, who was there for a lung biopsy. She says her unsung hero helped her find a "very brief moment of calm in what I knew was probably going to be a pretty bad end of the day."
  • Elon Musk is suing a nonprofit that researches hate speech on social media, accusing it of driving away advertisers from his company X, formerly known as Twitter.
  • This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

    Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Suzanne Nuyen