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An owner removes tables and chairs from his beer garden after a strict lockdown.
Image copyright: Reuters
Locking up

Here’s what you need to know

Germany locked down the unvaccinated. As omicron—which is now dominant in South Africa—spreads, Germans can only enter the most essential businesses without proof of vaccination.

The US tightened testing rules for foreign travelers. Inbound travelers must test for covid-19 within a day of departure. Meanwhile, Japan reversed a ban on inbound flight bookings.

Nvidia got sued by the US to stop its SoftBank deal. The $40 billion purchase of Arm would reduce competition in the chip space, US trade officials argued.

OPEC+ kept its oil output plans. An additional 400,000 barrels a day will be produced in January. Separately, Royal Dutch Shell quit its Cambo UK oil project over economic concerns.

Facebook removed a China-linked disinformation campaign. More than 500 accounts tied to a fake covid-19 expert were scrubbed. Meanwhile, the US said it will target China’s monitoring technologies.

The IMF warned of economic collapse in low-income countries. What’s needed is a debt fix from richer nations, the fund said.

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What to watch for

Gambians will go to the polls on Saturday in the first election in 27 years that won’t feature exiled former president Yahya Jammeh. At least, not technically. Facing off against five other candidates, current president Adama Barrow is feeling Jammeh’s efforts to sway the vote.

At a pre-election rally via a recorded audio message from his exile in Equatorial Guinea, Jammeh urged Gambians to vote for candidate Mama Kandeh. In response, Barrow threatened Kandeh with legal action.

Killings, torture, forced disappearances, and financial misappropriation were hallmarks of Jammeh’s tenure. Barrow’s own time at the helm has been marred by crime, internet outages, and some trust issues—he had promised new elections in three years but went back on his word. Jammeh’s ousting was considered a triumph of democracy in the region, but it remains to be seen if, in reality, he’s become a kingmaker instead.


When have travel bans worked?

❌ Keeping original covid-19 virus in Wuhan

❌ Keeping delta variant in India

❌ Keeping omicron variant in South Africa

With the name “omicron” on every trembling lip, travel bans have been the most visible public health measure since South Africa reported the variant last week.

But there’s a growing chorus of travel ban critics. It’s a measure that could work, if the goal is to buy a few days or weeks for countries to beef up their health systems in preparation. Since those with covid-19 can be asymptomatic—and since variants can emerge anywhere—travel bans are often just reflexive politics.

Instead, governments could take a lesson from India’s omicron response, accept that covid is everywhere, and focus on what we know works:

✅ Testing and contact tracing

✅ Quarantines

✅ Masks


Markets haiku: Grab’s debut was a downhill ride

Image copyright: Reuters/Edgar Su

Biggest SPAC deal yet
Just didn’t grab investors.
Will they ride it out?

After raising $4.5 billion at a valuation of more than $37 billion—the biggest SPAC deal yet—southeast Asia-based ride-hailing company Grab closed down 20% on Thursday, the first day of trading.


A personal Amazon ban, however…

In the throes of a heavy shopping season, it’s easy to forget about a company’s questionable ethics when it offers perks like next-day shipping. But quitting Amazon is doable.

Here’s some free advice—delivered instantly!—for those that can afford to rethink their shopping mindset. Ask yourself these questions:

1️⃣ Do I really need this?

If 👍, then ⬇️

2️⃣ Do I really need this within 24 hours?

If 👍, then ⬇️

3️⃣ Can I find this in a local store?

If 👎, then sure, hit up Amazon. If 👍, time to get yourself to a brick and mortar.

Find more advice for how to sever ties by checking out How To Quit Amazon.

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Surprising discoveries

Salmon sperm is being used to make eco-friendly plastic. The squishy material has been formed into cups and puzzle pieces.

Customers spent the night at a snowed-in Denmark Ikea. It was unclear if they put the beds together themselves.

Counterfeit NFTs of Birkin bags are a thing. Fake MetaBirkins were being sold prior to the collection being minted.

You can stay at the Home Alone house for $25. The listing was posted on Airbnb by Kevin’s older brother Buzz.

For just $625 more, you can have a glass of Japanese whisky. Learn about the hype behind the price in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

🥃 Drink up all this season’s episodes on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher


“You guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?

Image copyright: Giphy