🌍 The US angers China

Plus: A year of labor power in the US and Canada.
🌍 The US angers China

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China threatened the US over a Taiwan arms deal. Beijing said it would take countermeasures after the Biden administration agreed to sell $1.1 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan.

Indian business tycoon Cyrus Mistry died. The 54-year-old, who was the chairman of Tata Sons and most recently helmed the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, was killed in a car crash near Mumbai.

Germany will help people with energy costs. Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a €65 billion ($65 billion) package that includes caps on bills and tax breaks to power-intensive businesses.

China’s tech hub Shenzhen tightened covid rules. Transportation was curbed and most people were told to stay home in an effort to stop an outbreak. The moves come as Toyota and Volkswagen plants in Chengdu operate in a closed loop.

Sri Lanka’s ousted president returned... Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country after an economic crisis pushed protestors to storm his residence, is back in Colombo.

…while Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is making his first overseas visit. The Philippines president is heading to Indonesia to discuss military and economic issues with president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

NASA’s moon rocket needs a leak inspection. Repairs are expected to delay lift off for ​​Artemis I by at least several weeks (see more below).

What to watch for

The next UK prime minister will be announced on Monday and will meet the Queen (at Balmoral Castle in Scotland for the first time, to account for the 96-year-old’s health) the following day to receive her mandate to form a government.

An eight-week leadership campaign between former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss focused mostly on taxation and Conservative party values—but offered little in terms of concrete plans to steer the country through a worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Truss, who is ahead in the polls, has not published a detailed policy plan, but she has repeatedly pledged to cut taxes. Some economists argue that reducing taxes will worsen inflation and increase interest rates, doing little to alleviate people’s struggles to pay for their groceries and energy bills. If the next UK prime minister doesn’t step up to the challenge, their time in power may very well be short-lived.

A year of labor power

Today is Labor Day in the US and Canada, and with it follows a year of unprecedented union victories—as well as increased anti-union efforts.

Here are some labor wins and headwinds from this year:

✊ Over 220 US Starbucks voted to unionize, with several stores in Canada following suit.
🚫 Starbucks attempted to stop mail-in voting for union elections, shut unionized stores, and excluded unionized employees from getting raises, though the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said that violated labor laws.

✊ The first Apple and Trader Joe’s stores unionized, and the US gained its first major video game union.
🚫 Meta fired and attempted to silence Facebook whistleblower Daniel Motaung for leading unionization efforts at a contracted content moderation firm.

✊ The historic formation of the Amazon Labor Union, which has been upheld by the NLRB, has also revived Teamster efforts in Canada.
🚫 Tesla prohibited employees from wearing union T-shirts, but the NLRB has since struck down the ruling that allows employers to impose dress codes.

What it takes to send Artemis 1 to the Moon

The SLS and Orion for the Artemis 1 mission are on the launchpad.
Photo: NASA

At 100 meters, NASA’s Artemis 1 rocket is the largest ever built, and an American-mega project.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg—the eye-catching evidence of much broader activity below the surface. As Quartz reporter Tim Fernholz explains, riding on Artemis’s engines are billions of dollars, hundreds of companies, and US credibility.

✦ Love staying in tune with updates on Artemis 1? Quartz membership helps keep stories like this free and accessible to all. Become a member today and take 40% off when you do.

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Surprising discoveries

Spain has one solution for inflation: free train tickets. Half a million people have already registered for the fareless rides.

Crab and lobster shells could make eco-friendly batteries. A prototype using chitin, which helps keep the exoskeletons of the crustaceans hard, is 99.7% efficient after 400 hours.

Artists who record songs about poop are making most of their money from Amazon Music. A ton of five-year-olds asking Alexa to play “poopy diaper” helps.

Scientists are on the hunt for 2,100 lost species. A lot of animals aren’t extinct or endangered, but are simply missing.

Amazon put a three-day hold on reviews for Rings of Power. It’s an effort to stop trolls from review-bombing the show.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, crustaceous energy, and good reviews 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.