Japan’s state of emergency, Netflix’s triumph over Disney, stink flirting

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Here’s what you need to know

Japan declared a nationwide state of emergency. Previously, prime minister Shinzo Abe had only invoked the status for seven regions, including Tokyo. Now that reported cases are rapidly increasing, all regional governments will have the authority to tell people to stay at home.

The US small business rescue program ran out of cash. The $349 billion loan program was first-come, first-served, but now the Small Business Administration is no longer accepting new applicants. It only took a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, another five million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, though the unemployment rate is about to become meaningless.

Libra is coming. Facebook’s original cryptocurrency plan has narrowed its scope after much regulatory scrutiny, and will now be a Paypal-like system whose digital coins will align with local currencies.

Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal will soon ship nonessentials again in India, after the government announced it would lift the ban on such orders. The online retailers will be back in action on April 20, two weeks before the country’s new lockdown end date.

Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are getting back to it as well. Those and other German automakers will start reactivating some regional factories after chancellor Angela Merkel said lockdown had brought about a “fragile intermediate success” in the fight against coronavirus spread. Production had ground to a halt on its own when car dealers temporarily shuttered.

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Political campaigns spend a lot of money to reach voters on Facebook. Here’s how much US presidential candidates have shelled out so far this year:

🔴 Trump: $10.7 million

🔵 Biden: $7.4 million

⚫ Dark money groups: ???

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Charting Disney vs. Netflix

For only the second time ever, Netflix is worth more than Disney (✦ a Quartz member exclusive). But this time, it could stay that way for awhile.

Netflix’s stock surged to an all-time high on Wednesday, putting the streaming service’s market capitalization at $187.3 billion. Disney’s market cap, meanwhile, has plummeted in the last two months as the coronavirus pandemic ravages its movies and parks businesses. In February, the Mouse House was valued at more than $250 billion. As of yesterday, its market cap was $186.5 billion.

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+ more for Quartz members: 

  • “This feels very unprecedented. I don’t know that we have an easy analogy to another historical event that we can draw on about what this might mean for young people.” —Lisa Damour, a psychologist who specializes in the development of teenage girls and young women, and the author of the books Untangled and Under Pressure
  • “People are looking for distraction. I think people are missing sport and that doesn’t mean just directly the competition on the sports field. For a lot of people that’s the ambience, the cadence.” —Rugby announcer Nick Heath
  • “In many traditional companies, a new initiative takes six months just to schedule a plan, never mind to do it. And now we don’t have six months.” —Eric Ries, co-founder of the Lean Startup Co. consulting firm

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Quartz Daily Obsession

Sourdough is the undisputed king of Covid-19. With a timeline that stretches over days, the bread is slow stuff, and baking forums are full of sob stories about deflated loaves. Experienced bakers are also up in arms about newbies grabbing up flour that’s in short supply. Ignore them all. Let’s get it started in here with the Quartz Daily Obsession.

Surprising discoveries

There were no US school shootings in March. Last month was the first March without a school shooting since 2002.

Iceland’s forestry service recommends hugging trees, not people. “There are plenty of trees,” one ranger points out. “It doesn’t have to be big and stout, it can be any size.”

Male lemurs’ wrist scent seduces females. This sort of “stink flirting” could be the first finding of primate sex pheromones.

Competitive eating is pivoting for coronavirus. Major League Eating’s at-home challenge will start with two pounds of bologna before moving on to Oreos, milk, baked beans, and ramen.

A Florida bar removed $10,000 from its walls. The money, all in singles, went to 22 staffers who were laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic.

You asked 

Why are some countries committing to end lockdown by a specific date? 

A few political leaders are pinpointing end dates for regional lockdowns, including French president Emmanuel Macron, who said the nation will start to reopen on May 3. Other world leaders have extended confinement in 2- to 3-week increments without making further promises.

But psychologists say the specificity makes sense, given what we know about the human brain. “The combination of uncertainty and danger…feeds an intense desire for certainty, better known to psychologists as the need for cognitive closure,” writes psychologist Arie Kruglanski in The Conversation. “It is the time when authoritative, confident direction is much preferred over flexible, laissez-faire guidance. We need to be told what to do, plain and simple.”

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