🌎 The Ant and the Bey

Jack Ma, of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in 2019.
Jack Ma, of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in 2019.
Photo: Philippe Lopez / Contributor (Getty Images)

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Here’s what you need to know

Jack Ma plans to give up control of Ant Group. Relinquishing control of the company could put its roadblocked IPO back on track, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The presidents of the US and China talked for two hours. The White House called the phone chat a relationship-tending mission, while Beijing called the conversation productive but warned it would “never leave any space for Taiwan independence forces in any form.”

Energy companies reported record profits. It was an earnings bonanza at oil and gas giants Shell, Total, and Centrica, who are cashing in as household bills soar.

Four Chinese companies listed on a Sino-Swiss platform. Swiss exchange SIX and the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges launched the cross-listing project in 2019.

Dock workers at the UK’s largest container port voted to strike. A dispute over pay increases could bring the hub to a standstill. 

MBS continued his tour of Europe. French president Emmanuel Macron was the latest European leader to host the Saudi crown prince accused of orchestrating Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

What to watch for

Beyonce and several dancers wearing neon yellow-green outfits that are very fun. Beyonce is holding a microphone and the wind is in her hair.
Beyoncé—shown here not taking a break—performing at the Oscars in March 2022.
Photo: AMPAS Handout (Getty Images)

Beyoncé’s Renaissance is upon us. Queen Bey’s first solo studio album in six years comes with a cushy month’s notice, instead of her typical surprise drop. The result: a month that lets anticipation rise to a fever pitch. The album—whose vinyl and merchandise are already sold out in the official store—is the first of a three-part project the star recorded during the pandemic.

The debut single, “Break My Soul,” came out in June, providing the hip-hop soundtrack the burnout generation didn’t know it needed. “My intention was to create a safe space, a place without judgment, a place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom,” says Beyoncé.

Ever the powerful channel of society’s most urgent movements, the artist is unafraid to break the mythology of her own overworking, and Renaissance is likely to be a joyful encouragement to Take. That. Break! And if Beyoncé says it, who are any of us to disagree?

Clean energy fights inflation

Two weeks ago, US senator Joe Manchin scuttled a major climate spending bill, reasoning the world needs more fossil fuels today, not less.

Now he’s agreed to back the latest version of the same bill, which includes the US’s biggest-ever check for clean energy—$369 billion. Its title, the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” drops any reference to climate change, a political move that is also a sign that Congress is recognizing clean energy as a key solution to inflation, not a cause of it.

⬆️ Fossil fuels have experienced particularly extreme inflation since Russia invaded Ukraine.

⬇️ Solar and wind power are both free and inexhaustible, and their related technologies get cheaper as they scale up.

⬇️ A shift to clean energy puts emphasis on electricity, which is more regulated and price-controlled than something like gasoline.

⬇️ ⬇️ It also lowers the cost of climate change impacts, for which global insurance companies paid $40 billion in the first half of 2022.

Call the midwife!

In the US, midwifery was once a Black woman’s trade. In the words of British-trained midwife Jennie Joseph: “Slave women delivered America.” But over time, racist and economic barriers pushed Black women out of the gynecological field, only to be replaced with mostly white doctors. Today, 90% of US midwives are white.

Demand for midwives in the US is on the rise, and more women of color are entering the field. Many seeking to become midwives want to provide “racially concordant care,” or healthcare where the provider and patient come from the same racial background. According to one survey, personal experience with medical racism has also strongly motivated aspiring midwives to take matters into their own hands.

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Surprising discoveries

Sprite is scrapping its green bottle. Clear plastic will be used instead to improve recyclability.

Dangerous bacteria were detected in the US for the first time. B. pseudomallei has previously only been found in parts of Asia, Australia, and Latin America.

The Loch Ness could have had monsters. A fossil found in the Sahara Desert suggests some early marine reptiles could live in fresh water, such as certain lakes.

The richest woman in Asia lost half of her $24 billion fortune. China’s property market crash spelled bad news for Yang Huiyan’s investments.

AI DeepMind can predict the shape of almost every known protein. The technology could further research in a field called “metaproteomics.”

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