🌎 A Nord Stream curtail

A photo taken on July 20, 2022 shows the industrial plant of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline near Lubmin, northeastern Germany.
A photo taken on July 20, 2022 shows the industrial plant of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline near Lubmin, northeastern Germany.
Photo: Edouard Merlo/AFP (Getty Images)

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Here’s what you need to know

Russia will cut the Nord Stream pipeline’s production. Capacity is expected to drop to 20% on Wednesday, raising concerns about Europe’s access to natural gas this winter (see more below).

Wheat prices rose sharply. A missile strike on Odessa has been seen as a threat to last week’s grain corridor pact, even as Ukraine seeks to resume exports.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo will auction off oil and gas permits. Available blocks include parts of a key habitat for endangered gorillas and carbon-rich tropical peatlands.

Sri Lanka will restrict its fuel imports. Fuel rationing will continue for the next 12 months due to a serious foreign exchange shortage, authorities said.

Myanmar executed four democracy activists for “terror acts.” According to the UN, the death sentences are the country’s first since 1988.

China is reportedly launching a real estate fund. Up to $44 billion will be pumped into the sector amid a debt crisis and homebuyer protests, a state bank official told Reuters.

The UK will host Eurovision 2023. A city, to be decided, hold the song competition on behalf of Ukraine, the 2022 contest winner.

What to watch for

Europe’s shortage of natural gas is driving energy bills into the stratosphere. But mandatory gas rationing may still be off the table.

European Union energy officials will meet today to vote on an emergency response plan to the bloc’s gas crisis, a day after Russia’s Gazprom said it would slash gas deliveries—already low—even further. The plan has two pieces: A recommendation that EU countries curb their gas consumption by 15% for the next nine months, and a provision that officials in Brussels could make those cuts mandatory—and impose fines for non-compliance—if they decide the crisis is escalating dangerously.

Most leaders agree in principle that Europe should use less gas, especially to refill storage tanks ahead of peak gas demand in winter. But many countries oppose mandatory rationing, including Spain, Portugal, and Greece, who either use relatively little gas or source most of their supply from somewhere other than Russia.

Are Starbucks and Chipotle union-busting?

In the last few months, coffee chain Starbucks and Chipotle Mexican Grill have closed stores that have recently unionized or pursued a union election. Starbucks has stated closures were due to crime and safety concerns, while Chipotle has cited chronic understaffing.

Affected workers have filed unfair labor practice charges with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and scholars agree the timing of the closures may signal union-busting. But there’s not a whole lot workers can do. If the NLRB eventually finds Starbucks and Chipotle guilty, they may only owe back wages, a relative slap on the wrist for the big corporations.

That being said, store closures are unlikely to quash union activity altogether. Workers, strapped with crushing student debt, high housing costs, and stagnant wages, have compelling reasons to join and sustain the unionization wave.

Fine dining at a time of record inflation

US inflation has hit levels not seen in 40 years, and pandemic closures and slowdowns are still a sore spot, but despite the odds a record 650 establishments are still taking part in New York City’s Restaurant Week this year.

Quartz reporter Anne Quito spoke with restaurant owners in the city about what steps they’re taking to bring pre-fixe $30 meals to bargain-hunting gourmands, and how they’re pulling it off despite an unprecedented financial squeeze.

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Surprising discoveries

The mystery of a global uptick in hepatitis affecting children may have been solved. Lack of exposure during covid lockdowns is likely at fault.

The freezing point above the Swiss Alps broke a 27 year record. Weather balloons reached 0°C at 5,184 meters (17,008 feet), well above the highest summits.

A mushroom-shaped ring officially has the most bling. It’s studded with a record-breaking 24,679 diamonds.

The first virtual reality film was made. It explores everything from metaverse sign language classes to virtually-sustained relationships.

A new Homo sapiens population was uncovered. It may be the genetic link between East Asian and early American populations.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, weather balloons, and cottagecore jewelry to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Morgan Haefner, Julia Malleck, and Tim McDonnell.