🌎 Abortion rights’ new battleground

Plus: The US is not in a recession
🌎 Abortion rights’ new battleground

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Walgreens was targeted by anti-abortion activists. A group of people protesting pharmacy chains’ ability to sell abortion pills forced their way into the retailer’s annual general meeting.

LVMH and H&M earnings stood at polar opposites of the fashion spectrum. One of the world’s most valuable luxury groups withstood global headwinds better than one of the world’s largest fast-fashion retailers.

FTX’s complete list of creditors was released. The 116-page bankruptcy filing includes Goldman Sachs, Apple, and the New York Times among thousands of other creditors.

Chipotle started a hiring spree for 15,000 staff. US restaurant employment is still down 4% compared to pre-pandemic levels, but fast-food chains like Chipotle and McDonald’s oppose significant increases in hourly pay.

Hasbro is cutting 15% of its workforce. The layoffs follow what the toy giant described as a “challenging” holiday season.

Bankruptcy looms for Bed Bath & Beyond. The struggling retailer said it doesn’t have the funds to pay back its loans after receiving a default notice from JPMorgan Chase.

Human activity and drought have damaged the Amazon more than previously thought. A new study indicates that more than a third of the rainforest has suffered degradation.

What to watch for

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reviewing the state of the pandemic after gathering its emergency committee for the 14th time since the covid outbreak began.

Discussion today (Jan. 27) will focus on whether the pandemic still warrants the definition of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the highest risk level. The decision, expected to be announced Monday (Jan. 30), is ultimately for WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to make, though he has consistently followed the committee’s advice.

Here are a few numbers that tell the story of the pandemic so far.

665 million: Covid cases recorded worldwide since January 2020

6.8 million: Covid deaths recorded worldwide since January 2020

11: Emergency Use Listings issued for covid vaccines

13 billion: Vaccine doses administered worldwide as of Jan. 24, 2023, to more than 5 billion people

Wait, what recession?

The US is definitely not in a recession. At least, not yet.

Preliminary numbers show the world’s largest economy grew 2.9% year over year in the last quarter of 2022 (revised results will be out next month). At first glance, it looks like the US did what it wasn’t expected to do—expand in the face of inflation, higher interest rates, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and fears of an economic downturn.

Image for article titled 🌎 Abortion rights’ new battleground
Graphic: Michelle Cheng

While some economists are referring to this stage of economic recovery from the pandemic as “gloriously, splendidly... boring,” the future of the US economy will largely depend on whether consumer spending can keep holding up like it has. And signs of economic growth cooling at the end of last year, falling retail sales, and more rate hikes ahead can’t be ignored.

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Africa is getting less safe

According to the 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, life has become more dangerous for Africans in the past 10 years.

Violence against civilians and armed conflict have especially impacted the security of countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan. Quartz Africa correspondent Faustine Ngila breaks down the report, and explains how bloodshed across Africa has also hampered progress towards improved quality of life and better governance.

Stay up-to-date with local developments, emerging industries, and the top stories in Africa with the Quartz Africa Weekly, delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning.

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Surprising discoveries

A collector came forward about the skeleton in his closet. The set of bones from his attic could date back to the Battle of Waterloo.

“Yerb” is still a “nope” for most Americans. Despite the fact that it’s caffeinated, soothing, and full of health benefits.

A dark nebula contains the chilliest ice ever found. Molecules measuring a balmy -440°F (-262°C) were found in molecular cloud Chameleon I.

Ketchup isn’t the worst thing to schmear on your computer’s GPU. It’s a better thermal paste than cheese or diaper rash cream. 

A Swiss museum lost some 17th-century art at the cleaners. A pair of paintings may have been stolen since being sent out for restoration.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, bottles of Heinz, and dark nebula coats to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Diego Lasarte, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.