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🌎 Starbucks's new chief barista

Starbucks named top consumer products executive Laxman Narasimhan as its next CEO.

The Starbucks logo is displayed on water cups at a Starbucks store on October 29, 2021 in Marin City, California. Starbucks shares fell 7 percent a day after the coffee chain reported fourth quarter earnings that fell short of analyst expectations. The company also announced plans to raise barista pay by summer of 2022.
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Here’s what you need to know

US president Joe Biden called Donald Trump and his backers a threat to the country. Biden’s fiery speech referred to attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, which also involved the likes of a Supreme Court justice’s wife. 

Starbucks named its next CEO. Laxman Narasimhan, a top consumer products executive at Pepsico and at Lysol maker Reckitt Benckiser Group, will start on Oct. 1 and fully take over from Howard Schultz in April.

Twitter’s edit button isn’t free. The functionality, hailed by those prone to typos and loathed by those concerned about misinformation and fraud, will be rolled out to paying users only.

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard were given five days to appease UK regulators. Microsoft’s $68.7 billion takeover of the video game giant is under scrutiny across the world.

An omicron booster campaign is about to begin in the US. An updated version of the covid vaccine got the green light from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chile’s new constitution faces the ballot box. Voters will decide whether to overhaul the country’s legal foundation, written during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Argentina’s vice-president survived a gun attack. A man fired a weapon at Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, but the firearm did not go off.

What to watch for

At a whopping $465 million, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has the biggest budget for any show that Amazon Studios has ever produced. And that figure doesn’t even include the $250 million Amazon paid to secure the television rights to the franchise from the Tolkien estate, which brings the total to $715 million.

With at least five more seasons planned, that would push Rings of Power far past the billion-dollar mark as soon as season two, which has already been approved for production.

Image copyright: Adario Strange

Initial reactions from fans who attended special screenings of the first episodes skewed positive, but the real test will be how the series is received by the 175 million Amazon Prime Video viewers at home. The next 48 hours will determine whether or not Amazon’s biggest bet on original programming ever has succeeded, and could make or break any plans to engage in similarly large productions in the future.

China is surpassing the US in life expectancy

US life expectancy has hit its lowest point since 1996. Provisional data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that from 2020 to 2021, the nation’s life expectancy dropped from 77 to 76.1 years (pdf). Covid is the main factor behind the shortened life expectancy, accounting for 50% of the decline.

Meanwhile, China’s life expectancy is 77.1 years—now a full year longer than Americans, according to 2020 numbers (2021 data is not yet available). Beijing’s stringent zero-covid strategy will likely be reflected in a lower mortality rate as it continues to avert an estimated 1.5 million deaths.

Image copyright: Mary Hui

A cotton crisis is looming

Nearly half of Pakistan’s cotton crop—which represents 3% of the world’s cotton supply—has been damaged by catastrophic flooding this week.

But cotton’s rough year goes beyond the recent floods. Other severe climate events and political tensions have disrupted cotton output in the world’s top five producing countries. Quartz reporter Tiffany Ap explains why that spells trouble for downstream businesses globally, including apparel, homewares, and even medical supplies.

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Surprising discoveries

Inflation came for figure sticker collections. Filling up a FIFA World Cup Panini album this year costs, on average, £100 ($115) more than it did four years ago.

Japanese bureaucrats still use floppy disks. The country’s digital chief wants to rid government offices of the decades-old data storage system.

Australia’s unprecedented 2020 wildfires heated up the stratosphere. Smoke from the blazes increased global temperatures and, possibly, grew the hole in the ozone layer.

NASA’s Perseverance mission is making oxygen on Mars. The rate of production is comparable to that of a small tree on Earth.

The global population is set to reach parity between the sexes by 2050. It’s currently still a man’s world, but balance should be achieved within the next three decades.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, floppy disks, and Martian air to Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Samanth Subramanian, Julia Malleck, Mary Hui, Adario Strange, and Morgan Haefner.

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