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Here’s what you need to know

Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard for $70 billion. Meanwhile, the gaming company fired or disciplined dozens of employees over allegations of sexual harassment and other workplace issues.

The biggest US airlines issued a warning over 5G cell services. They said there will be “major disruption” to flights when 5G goes live tomorrow, causing a “completely avoidable economic calamity.” (See more below.)

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said he’s a capitalist, not an activist. In his annual letter to the heads of companies in which the world’s biggest asset manager invests, Fink defended his influence over their policies.

Amazon continues to accept Visa credit cards in the UK—for now. The dispute over fees is not over, however, and the retailer does not rule out banning the card at a future date.

China banned more flights from the US. Eighty-four direct routes have now been shut down, as Chinese authorities impose a range of tough restrictions to keep covid at bay.

Meanwhile, people in China can’t buy tickets to see the Winter Olympics. Instead, they will be distributed to invited “groups of spectators” in Beijing.


What to watch for

It’s T minus 24 hours until Verizon and AT&T flip the switch on “ultra wideband” 5G service in 46 US metropolitan areas. The telecom giants spent $70 billion on the rights to the so-called “C-band” frequencies, which promise faster service for smartphone users.

But the launch was delayed after the aviation industry said the new networks would interfere with airplane instruments. When C-band service kicks in, it will exclude areas within a mile of 50 major US airports, though that is apparently not enough for airlines.


China’s dearth of births

China’s economy staged a major recovery last year: Even with a slow second half, GDP grew by 8.1%, beating Beijing’s 6% target. But the comeback story is being overshadowed by a plunging birth rate:

  • China’s birth rate fell to 7.52 births per 1,000 people last year, an 11.6% decline over 2020, and the lowest in its history.
  • There were 10.6 million births and 10.1 million deaths in 2021, meaning the population of 1.4 billion had a net increase of just 480,000.
  • China is dealing with the consequences of its now-defunct one-child policy. The size of younger generations is shrinking, along with the number of women in their childbearing years.

An ESG evolution

“ESG should apply the same way regardless of a business’s industry or its size, and across all asset classes.” —Hannah Leach, partner at Houghton Street Ventures

By 2025, more than $50 trillion of global assets are expected to be committed to investments based on environmental, social, and governance criteria—and yet venture capitalists are largely sitting on the sidelines. Not for long. This week’s Forecast looks at ESG’s shift to alternative investing, the rarefied domain of VCs, private equity, and hedge funds.

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Handpicked Quartz


Surprising discoveries

Image copyright: US District Court of Connecticut

Lego is being sued over a leather jacket. An artist accused the toymaker of recreating a jacket he designed for Queer Eye cast member Antoni Porowski.

Who betrayed Anne Frank? History has a new suspect. A team of experts spent six years using modern techniques to crack the case.

Marlon Bundo is no longer with us. The family rabbit of former US vice president Mike Pence, Bundo had become an unlikely LGBTQ icon.

The original social network. Researchers uncovered a 50,000-year-old web of connections based on the sharing of ostrich-eggshell beads.

Team USA needs burner phones. The US is the latest nation to advise its athletes not to bring their personal devices to the Beijing Olympics.