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A man receives a Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN, at a vaccination centre, in New Delhi, India, February 13, 2021.
Image copyright: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
A man receives Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine.

Here’s what you need to know

India set a grim coronavirus record. The country reported the highest single-day infection spike for any country in the world, adding 316,000 new Covid-19 cases. But without a national stay-at-home order, India is feeling all the pain—and none of the gain—of an undeclared lockdown.

The US hosts a climate summit. Forty world leaders, including crucially the leader of the world’s largest emitter since 2004, will attend. Read more below.

The UK parliament could declare China’s actions in Xinjiang a genocide. That’s if enough MPs vote for it. Meanwhile, some US senators are pushing for a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Olympics.

A Canadian renewables firm is suing Citigroup. The bank did not treat the Texas deep freeze as a “force majeure,” and is billing Innergex subsidiaries more than $100 million for replacement power.

The Tokyo Olympics faced another setback. A participant in Japan’s torch relay tested positive for Covid-19.

The Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble burst again. For the second time, it was canceled at the last minute.

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What to watch for

Image copyright: EPA/Shutterstock/James Kelley
Cutting back.

The US is giving the world an Earth Day present: a new carbon emissions reduction pledge, promising a 50% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030. If the target is met, it would go a long way toward putting the global economy on track to net zero by 2050, the long-term goal needed to avert catastrophic climate change.

The pledge was announced in conjunction with a virtual global climate summit the Biden administration is hosting beginning Thursday to which 40 heads of state have been invited. The overarching goal of the summit is to elicit more ambitious carbon pledges from participating countries ahead of the five-year anniversary of the Paris climate agreement in December.

Other news to watch from the summit: Will the US take responsibility for its historic carbon footprint by committing billions more dollars for climate adaptation in developing countries? And, will the US and China, the world’s top emitters, announce any more details on how they plan to compete—or not—on the clean energy industry?

Ultimately, the summit itself is political pageantry. The real test is whether Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure spending package and other policies under consideration can dramatically accelerate the pace of the US energy transition, which is currently moving too slow to meet the 2030 pledge. Otherwise, says Victoria Cuming, head of global policy for BloombergNEF, the US “risks damaging its climate credibility even further—by announcing a target and missing it.”

Charting police killings

The US has the highest rate of police killings among most wealthy countries, according to a report from the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), a criminal justice think tank. The report found that the US has at least three times the number of police killings compared to peer countries.

The stark contrast in the number of killings mirrors the difference in how the US handles policing.

Markets haiku: I survived SPAC-fest

Image copyright: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Where did all the SPACs go?

Well that sure was fast,
If you blinked you likely missed
SPAC-fest ‘21

March saw more than 100 SPAC filings, but April’s number dipped to just ten. The SEC’s new accounting guidelines that would see SPACs classified as liabilities instead of equity instruments likely had a great deal to do with the abrupt end to the SPAC boom.

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The psychological toll of boarding up our cities

Image copyright: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
State of emergency. Again

“Blank edges are like broken teeth.” —Charles Montgomery, founding principal of Happy City

Restaurants, bars, and shops across the US once again boarded up their windows and doors, bracing for mass upheavals following the trial of Derek Chauvin. As the former Minneapolis police officer was convicted on all charges for the murder of George Floyd on Tuesday, many establishments kept their plywood shields in place, anticipating street celebrations and demonstrations this week.

More than a nuisance, seeing storefronts poised for violence has a profound effect on our mental health and social relations. Anne Quito explores how the trauma of blank facades affects those who live in cities.

✦ Anne’s obsessed with design and its impact. Start with her story from last week about the deadly perils of taser design. You’ll run into paywalls eventually, but we’ve designed a way for you to try a Quartz membership for free!

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Surprising discoveries

Image copyright: Reuters/Mike Segar
Another idea from Amazon.

Amazon wants you to pay with your palm. It’s hoping to sell the tech it’s currently testing at some Whole Foods grocery stores to other retailers.

An Italian hospital employee skipped work for 15 years. He’s at least legitimately earned one thing—a “king of absentees” nickname.

An intra-Italy feud is brewing over espresso. A northern city applied to Unesco for world heritage status for the country’s coffee culture, but Naples believes the honor belongs to it alone.

A lost surfboard reappeared… The barnacle-encrusted board traveled 2,700 km (1,670 miles) over four years.

…as did a treasured flute. The $13,000 instrument, which was left in a taxi in 2012, turned up when the cab driver recently tried to sell it.

That alluring melody you can’t resist off in the distance is leading you down the road, away from your small village, and into the woods for our latest. Enjoy!

Image copyright: Giphy