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Here’s what you need to know

WeWork secured a $1.1 billion loan from SoftBank. The money is supposed to cover the office company’s pandemic-related losses, and although it has reportedly not spent any of it yet (paywall), WeWork did go through $671 million in the three months up to the end of June. SoftBank has already poured $10 billion into the company.

Donald Trump pushed a racist theory about Kamala Harris. In an echo of his previously discredited attempt to claim that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US, the president suggested that senator Harris, who was born in Oakland, might not have the birthright to run as a VP candidate.

The US Department of Justice said Yale University admissions are discriminatory. White and Asian-American students don’t get a fair shake, the DOJ believes (paywall), compared with those who are from traditionally more disadvantaged backgrounds. The university said it won’t change its admissions policy.

The UK increased restrictions for travelers. Anyone arriving in Britain from France from tomorrow must quarantine for 14 days, which has prompted a scramble for train and airline tickets. Coronavirus infections have been rising in parts of France, but its government is not happy with the UK’s decision.


Watch: How to build antiracist companies

How can companies invite Black employees into more discussions without tokenizing them? Can you develop an inclusive culture at a workplace that hasn’t prioritized it before? What can be done about fatigue on the part of employees who regularly play an activist role on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues?

The second Quartz at Work (from home) workshop on how to build an antiracist company tackled tips for the start of your workplace’s DEI journey, tactical advice about hiring, and other burning questions. Watch the recording.


Our new Obsessions

Halfway through 2020, with coronavirus upending, well, everything, we decided it was time to update our Obsessions, the framework around which we organize our journalism. Each one is a set of questions we’re fascinated by and hypotheses we’re testing. Together, they keep our newsroom focused on the future: on how and why the world is changing, and the challenges and opportunities that come with every major shift in technology, society, and the economy.

Over the next nine weeks, we’ll introduce each Obsession—why it’s important, who the key players are, and perhaps even the song that best represents it. You’ll just have to stay tuned.

🏦 Fixing capitalism

🚧 Borders

🏗 Rethinking cities

🗺 Beyond Silicon Valley

🛍 How we spend

🌍 The climate economy

📱 Future of finance

🇨🇳 Because China

🤖Future of work

Read more about each one in a note from Quartz editor in chief Katherine Bell.


Words of wisdom

“[W]omen typically do not raise their hands for a corporate position until they feel confident that they can do 100% of the job, and succeed in every aspect of it, from day one. The rule of thirds was my way of addressing this issue for myself and overcoming my self-doubts to give myself the permission to aspire. It was alright, I would tell myself, to take on a position that was ‘one third in my comfort zone, one third a stretch, and one third pure white-knuckle terror.’”

—Nandita Bakhshi, president and CEO, Bank of the West, on why every woman should learn the rule of thirds


Charting the hemp boom and bust

Eight short months ago, hemp was the fastest growing crop in US agriculture. As of August, US farmers have reported slashing the planted acreage of the crop by 67%, from 137,000 acres in 2019 to 45,000 acres. This drop follows four consecutive years of US farmers more than doubling their hemp acreage annually.

“We saw CBD production explode in 2019,” says Erica Stark, the executive director of the National Hemp Association. “The demand didn’t increase at the same pace…There’s still a lot of farmers who are still looking to find buyers for their 2019 crop.”

So, what went wrong? Blame the CBD boom.


What is presenteeism?

Presenteeism /prɛznˈtiːɪzəm/ (noun)
— the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job.

Coronavirus has cast presenteeism in a new light, forcing workers and their employers to ask: What are we willing to risk in order to maintain a culture which, many were already pointing out, neither benefited most employees nor, perhaps, provided an accurate measure either of productivity or engagement? Learn more about the ways companies are reimagining the office, from their design to making sure presenteeism doesn’t manifest during work-from-home, in our latest field guide.

✦ After all that work why not give a present to yourself. We suggest a Quartz membership, now available at a 40% discount.


Imagery interlude

This week, a massive formation of thunderstorms known as a “derecho” passed over the central United States, with severe weather knocking out power and damaging homes. Using data from Earth-observing satellites that track cloud cover and lightning activity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was able to produce this terrifying image of the derecho moving from Iowa and Wisconsin into Illinois and on to Indiana:

Image copyright: NOAA

For more coverage of what’s going on up above—like how SpaceX is caught in a $500 million dispute in Central Asia (and not saying much about its big new contract)—sign up for the Space Business newsletter.


You asked about flu shots

Will the rush to create and stockpile Covid-19 vaccines affect regular annual flu shots?

Public health professionals have one clear message: Get your flu vaccine, and get it early. This year, the US CDC estimates that vaccine manufacturers will supply the country with 194 to 198 million doses of the flu shot, compared to 175 million doses last year. They’re expecting an increased demand for flu vaccines because of the pandemic.

Both diseases impact the respiratory tract, so a person who contracts a relatively mild case of Covid-19 could then wind up in the hospital if they catch the flu shortly after, even if normally they’d be able to fight off the flu at home. Getting your flu shot early also helps vaccine administrators avoid bottlenecks of high demand for the flu vaccine while they’re also giving Covid-19 vaccines when they become available—which is realistically some time next year at the earliest.


Surprising discoveries

“Demon pigs” arrived at London zoo. The pair of hairless babirusas have been described as “the ugliest pigs on earth.”

Lobster pot buoy to the rescue. Two Irish paddle-boarders survived a night cast adrift at sea by clinging to the floating tool, which usually help lobstermen locate their traps.

Archaeologists found the world’s oldest camp bedding. Plant remains in a South African cave suggest human inhabitants used grass bedding some 200,000 years ago.

A billionaire is commissioning a diamond-studded mask. The art collector is paying $1.5 million for the face covering, which will feature 3,600 diamonds and an N99 filter.

Africa is splitting into two, with a new ocean in the middle. OK, so it’s happening very slowly.


Somebody stop us.