GDP Growth, Frog Legs, and January's Best Stories Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Friday, Jan. 28, and we're covering a rebound in US GDP, a breakthrough in regenerative science, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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US Economy Expands 

The US economy grew last year at the fastest rate in more than three decades as it rebounded from pandemic-related restrictions, according to new data released yesterday. The country’s gross domestic product (see 101) grew 5.7% over the year, the highest since 1984, which saw a 7.2% increase.


The data showed GDP grew even faster in the fourth quarter between October and December, expanding to 6.9% on an annualized rate. The GDP growth was driven by increased inventories in the retail and wholesale industry as well as consumer spending; the latter got a boost from stimulus payments and other pandemic-relief aid from the government.


Economists expect the GDP to slow this year with rising inflation and COVID-19 cases. The International Monetary Fund estimates the country’s GDP to grow 4.4% in 2022.

Long Live the (Frog) Leg

A specially formulated drug cocktail can spur the regrowth of a lost leg in frogs, according to researchers this week. The results represent a major breakthrough in the field of regenerative science—the species under study, the African clawed frog, is unable to naturally regrow limbs. 


In the study, frogs who had lost a limb had a silicon cap filled with five separate drugs applied that acted to mimic an amniotic (or embryo-like) environment. The capsule encouraged tissue and bone regrowth rather than the closing of the wound. Surprisingly, the treatment was only applied for 24 hours, after which limb regrowth proceeded over the following 18 months. The new leg was nearly fully functional, with active nerves and bone structure. 


The study suggests some animals have a dormant regenerative ability. It remains to be seen whether the application may be transferred for human use. 

Canadian Truck Protest

A convoy of Canadian long-haul truckers is expected to begin arriving in the capital city of Ottawa today, protesting required COVID-19 protocols for drivers transporting goods across the country's US border. Officials estimate up to 2,000 trucks may arrive in the city, with parallel protests planned over the following week. 


As of Jan. 15, unvaccinated truckers are required to quarantine and get tested for COVID-19 upon reentry from the US. The rules themselves may be moot—a US-based mandate requiring full vaccination for non-US citizens crossing the border came into effect Saturday. The Canadian Trucking Alliance says around 85% of affected drivers are already vaccinated, though organizers say the protest is focused on broad vaccine mandates from the government.


Land transport between the two countries accounts for almost $500B in traded goods each year. In related news, crowdfunding site GoFundMe has frozen nearly $4.7M in donations until convoy organizers can show a plan for the use of funds. 

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with CanvasPeople

> NFL playoffs continue Sunday with AFC (3:00 pm ET, CBS) and NFC (6:30 pm ET, Fox) Championship games (More) | Ex-Washington Football Team employees will share sexual harassment allegations with House committee (More)


> Steven Spielberg and Jane Campion among top 2022 Directors Guild of America nominations (More) | Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson both nominated for top prize at Writers Guild of America awards (More)


> US men's national team tops El Salvador 1-0 as 2022 World Cup qualifying continues (More) | See latest CONCACAF standings (More)

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Science & Technology

> OpenAI rolls out newest iteration of its language generation platform; InstructGPT is said to be less toxic and offensive, and less prone to misinformation (More) | GPT3 explained (More)


> SpaceX rocket launched seven years ago on trajectory to crash into the far side of the moon at almost 5,800 mph in about a month (More)


> Researchers demonstrate artificial intelligence platforms can be constructed using the mechanical and optical properties of everyday objects as opposed to computer chips (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.5%, Dow -0.02%, Nasdaq -1.4%) in another choppy session (More)


> Apple grows quarterly revenue 11% over last year and beats earnings expectations; share up 5% in after-hours trading (More)


> Visa beats revenue and earnings expectations as payment volumes increased 20% (More) | Free stock trading giant Robinhood misses expectations, guides Q1 revenues lower; shares down double digits in after-hours trading (More

Politics & World Affairs

> President Joe Biden confirms pledge to nominate a Black female candidate to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (More) | See top candidates (More)


> Winter storm watch issued from the Mid-Atlantic to southern New England from Friday to Sunday; storm may drop more than 2 feet of snow in the Boston area (More)


> Average US COVID-19 cases continue to fall, now around 575,000 per day, down almost 30% over two weeks; deaths, a lagging indicator, rise to 2,300 per day (More)



Gaming the System

Shondaland | Emily Zemler. Why America gives birth to—and is obsessed with—so many scammers and grifters. (Read)

No Turning Back

Runner's World | David Alm. How running helped Connie Allen break from her upbringing in an ultra-strict religious community. (Read)

Return of the Carantoñas

AP | Bernat Armangué. The small Spanish town of Acehuche revives one of the region's more unique religious festivals. (Read)



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Editor's note: More than 4 million monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in January. Enjoy!


(1/7/22) London's most criticized tourist attraction closes.


(1/6/22) Meet the two newest official dog breeds.


(1/5/22) One hundred ways to improve your life without really trying.


(1/5/22) America's most relaxed cities (based on 311 complaints).


(1/4/22) Watch a puppy grow into a 170-pound giant.


(1/25/22) Meet a mega Maine Coon cat.


(1/27/22) Visualizing how much money Americans make.


(1/26/22) The most delicious dishes in every state.

(1/12/22) The 100 best jobs for 2022


(1/12/22) America's fastest (and slowest) growing cities.


(1/20/22) One of the more intriguing Zillow listings.


(1/18/22) Athletic deer goes viral on social media.


(1/24/22) All 50 states' most epic adventures.


(1/12/22) Time to settle every internet debate, ever.


Clickbait: (1/20/22) This Toronto schoolchild is over snow shoveling.


Historybook: Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” published (1813); Painter Jackson Pollock born (1912); Modern US Coast Guard is founded (1915); Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates after launch, killing all seven astronauts on board (1986); RIP actress Cicely Tyson (2021).


"I touch the future. I teach."

Christa McAuliffe, teacher and astronaut killed during Challenger explosion.

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