🌍 Hail a robotaxi

Plus: The biggest climate bill in US history
"Robotaxi" autonomous vehicles by Baidu Apollo drive at the Baidu Apollo Park in Beijing on April 22, 2022.
"Robotaxi" autonomous vehicles by Baidu Apollo drive at the Baidu Apollo Park in Beijing on April 22, 2022.
Photo: Noel Celis / AFP (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Baidu launched China’s first robotaxi services. The driverless cabs began operating in Chongqing and Wuhan yesterday, with five vehicles in each city.

A buyer rejected Ukraine’s first cargo shipment since the UN-deal. A five-month delivery delay was cited as grounds for refusal. Ten ships have sailed through the grain corridor since last month’s agreement.

Pfizer bought Global Blood Therapeutics. The American pharmaceutical giant paid $5.4 billion to acquire the sickle cell disease drugmaker.

A fourth heat wave is hitting France. The country is also undergoing a severe drought. Meanwhile, Spain marked July as its hottest month on record, and the UK is bracing for another heat wave.

Tencent will shut down its app Kandian. The app, intended to compete with ByteDance, will be merged with chat app QQ as the tech giant seeks to consolidate amid a slowdown in growth.

Crypto lender Hodlnaut froze withdrawals. The Singapore-based platform has also paused swaps and deposits as the industry at large faces ongoing problems with liquidity.

SoftBank reported a record $23 billion quarterly loss. The investment conglomerate was hit by a downturn in tech stocks.

What to watch for

A portrait of a man wearing black-lens sunglasses with a navy frame. On top of the glasses are two paper cutouts of Raila Odinga. On the frames are more paper cutouts including a large, orangey-yellow letter "R" and the words "Raile Amolo Odinga." Around the man's neck appears to be some kind of giant faux-fruit (mango?) necklace. He is also wearing a red helmet.
A supporter of Kenya’s opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance, attends his final campaign rally ahead of the General election at the Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, Kenya August 6, 2022.
Photo: Monicah Mwangi (Reuters)

Kenyans vote today to pick president Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor. Leading the polls is former prime minister and opposition leader Raila Odinga, followed by deputy president William Ruto, immigration lawyer George Wajackoyah—a wildcard candidate who called for the legalization of cannabis—and lawyer and ordained minister David Waihiga Mwaure.

Voters want solutions to the rising cost of living and corruption issues. The lead up to the vote has already seen a boost in alcohol sales and a shortage of small denomination notes—both potential signs of voter bribery.

Even though recent elections in 2013 and 2017 avoided a repeat of the deadly clashes that followed the 2007 vote, their results were disputed, and the risk of political violence remains a concern. Citing an “abundance of caution,” the US embassy in Kenya has issued a security alert for Kisumu, the hometown of presidential hopeful Odinga, warning staff to avoid the area.

The biggest climate bill in US history

The Inflation Reduction Act, approved by the US Senate on Aug. 7, is considered the country’s largest and most significant bill to address climate change to date. Here’s what it entails:

📉 The legislation has provisions for healthcare and taxes, but a $369 billion investment toward transitioning to low-carbon energy has dominated headlines, as it brings the US closer to the White House goal of cutting emissions in half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

🔌 Consumers will get rebates on electric vehicles, energy-efficient household appliances, and solar panels.

☀️ Federal loans will support manufacturers of solar panels and large batteries.

🌱 Farmers who adopt practices that remove carbon from the atmosphere will get financial support.

🛢️ But the fossil fuel industry also won concessions, including $20 billion in subsidies and new land for offshore drilling.

🖋️ The House is expected to vote on the bill by the end of the week. If it passes, it’d head to president Joe Biden’s desk.

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Surprising discoveries

All you need is a 120 second walk after a meal to feel better. We prefer cat naps, but we guess lowered blood sugar is a pretty good perk.

A hummingbird species not seen in 12 years was spotted in Colombia. It was the third ever recorded sighting of the Santa Marta sabrewing.

A World War II bomb was found in an Italian riverbed. The recent heat wave dried up the water, revealing a 450 kg (~1,000 pound) explosive.

Zoos are giving animals “icy enrichment” to beat the heat. Summer treats include pumpkin spice flavored ice blocks.

Florida is holding a snake removal competition. Eight hundred contestants are hunting down invasive Burmese pythons to claim cash prizes.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, rare hummingbirds, and icy enrichment to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.