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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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).
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