4.28.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, April 28, and we're covering a slow down in economic growth, a continuing drop in smoking rates, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

US Growth Slows

The US economy grew at a lower-than-predicted 1.1% annualized rate in the first three months of the year, according to figures released yesterday. The number is nearly a percentage point less than the Wall Street forecast of 2% and a drop from the adjusted 2.6% pace seen in the fourth quarter of 2022. 

 

Consumer spending—which accounts for two-thirds of gross domestic product—held strong, rising 3.7% during the first quarter and offsetting slowed business investment amid tougher borrowing conditions. Despite inflation, consumers continued to spend more on cars, restaurants, and healthcare, while both exports and nondefense government spending also increased.

 

Analysts predict the growth slowdown, due in part to the Federal Reserve's nine consecutive interest rate hikes to combat inflation, may signal a mild US recession is likely later this year. 

 

Total US GDP is $26.5T; see historical data here.

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Cigarette Smoking Declines

The number of US adults who smoke cigarettes dropped to an all-time low last year, according to new data released yesterday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary findings from a survey of more than 27,000 adults show 11%, or 1 in 9 adults, reported smoking in 2022, down from 12.5% in 2021 and in 2020.

 

Cigarette smoking—linked to cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, and more—has been declining since the mid-1960s when 42% of US adults identified as active smokers (see charts). Observers attribute the gradual drop in the rate to a variety of factors—increased costs and taxes (see state-by-state data), smoking bans in a wide range of public spaces, and increased health consciousness of consumers.

 

Meanwhile, the number of US adults who say they used e-cigarettes in 2022 rose to 6%, up from 4.5% in 2021. E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are battery powered devices that do not contain tobacco. See a visual guide to e-cigarettes here.

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Emmett Till Accuser Dies

The woman whose accusations of flirting against then-14-year-old Emmett Till led to one of the most notorious racially-motivated murders in US history died yesterday. Carolyn Bryant, who recanted key parts of her story decades later, was 88 years old.

 

Till, who was Black, was killed by Bryant’s husband and a second relative after alleging Till grabbed and sexually harassed her at a Mississippi convenience store in 1955 after traveling from Chicago to visit relatives. The pair severely beat Till before shooting him and disposing of his body in a river; both were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury despite later admitting to the murder in a magazine article.

 

Following his death, Till became a catalyst for the burgeoning civil rights movement after his mother insisted on having an open-casket funeral in order to display the brutality of the attack.

 

In 2017, it was revealed Bryant admitted to historian Timothy B. Tyson she

fabricated testimony during the 1955 trial.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Jerry Springer, former mayor of Cincinnati and host of popular talk show "The Jerry Springer Show," dies at 79 (More) | Dick Groat, former National League MVP who also played in the NBA, dies at 92 (More)

> "Jackass" star Bam Margera surrenders to police in Pennsylvania on assault charges after being on the run since arrest warrant was issued Monday (More)

> Carolina Panthers take quarterback Bryce Young with top overall pick in 2023 NFL Draft (More) | See complete first round picks (More) | Lamar Jackson to re-sign with Baltimore Ravens to five-year, $260M deal, the highest ever annual value NFL salary (More)

From our partners: This credit card is a reward-seeker's dream, offering unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases and a huge welcome bonus. The Ascent's independent team of experts is calling it one of the best all-around cards. Learn more today.

 

Science & Technology

> Engineers develop robotic gripper that adjusts reflexively to grasp objects, can organize cluttered spaces (More)

> Scientists demonstrate the opening of the blood-brain barrier using low-intensity ultrasound, allowing the delivery of gene therapy drugs into the brain (More) | The blood-brain barrier explained (More)

> Astronomers predict two massive stars close enough to feed off each other will eventually turn into black holes and collide together; final cosmic event not expected for a few billion years (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +2.0%, Dow +1.6%, Nasdaq +2.4%) as Big Tech stocks rally; S&P 500 and Dow post best day since January (More)

> Amazon beats sales and earnings expectations, shares up 5% in after-hours trading (More)

> Intel posts largest quarterly loss of all-time, as Q1 revenue falls 36% over last year (More) | Snap (Snapchat) misses revenue expectations, shares down over 20% in after-hours trading (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Jack Teixeira, former Massachusetts Air National guardsman accused of leaking a wide range of classified military documents onto a Discord server, appears in court; prosecutors allege he may have more unreleased documents (More)

> West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) to run for Sen. Joe Manchin's (D) Senate seat in 2024 (More) | Former Vice President Mike Pence testifies before grand jury in Jan. 6 probe (More)

> China and the Philippines get into naval standoff near disputed region in the South China Sea known as Second Thomas Shoal, the latest in a string of conflicts over the strategic waterway (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Rise of Sudan's Hemedti

Guardian | Nesrine Malik. Two weeks into the civil war tearing apart Sudan's capital of Khartoum, here's the story of the paramilitary general from Darfur challenging Sudan's ruling elite. (Read)

 

> Rewilding a Dead Zone

Nature | Aisling Irwin. An ambitious restoration project in the heart of the Netherland's dyke-created Markermeer lake looks to create new life in a defunct ecosystem. (Read)

> Saving Venice

Tomorrow's Build | Staff. The story behind a $7B system designed to hold back rising seas in one of the world's great cultural landmarks—and how it's not working that well. (Watch)

 

> The Origin of 'Jeopardy!' 

Sony | Buzzy Cohen. (Podcast) This first episode of the official Jeopardy! history podcast goes back to the show's obscure beginnings in the 1960s. (Listen)

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Best of Etcetera—April '23
 

Editor's note: More than 9 million monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in April. Enjoy!

 

(4/15/23) What happens to your body when you quit sugar.

 

(4/22/23) New photo of late Queen Elizabeth II released on her 97th birthday.

 

(4/12/23) See California's beautiful rare poppy superbloom.

 

(4/10/23) Side-by-side shots of once-dry California lakes now filled.

 

(4/10/23) Mapping where retirees are headed in the US.

 

(4/18/23) Photographer captures Florida's croczilla.

 

(4/1/23) Two 100-year-old sisters share their tips for staying mentally sharp.

 

(4/17/23) Visualizing the world's population density centers.

 

(4/8/23) James Webb telescope shows new views of Uranus.

 

(4/24/23) The cost of new home construction in each US state.

 

(4/6/23) Famous Bigfoot footage stabilized using AI.

 

Clickbait: Beware of public phone charging stations.

 

Historybook: “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee born (1926); Italian dictator Benito Mussolini executed (1945); US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan born (1960); Charles de Gaulle resigns as president of France (1969); Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies (2021). 

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