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🌎 US rail strike averted

Unions and railroads companies reached a deal at the 11th hour.

Aerial view of a freight train traveling through Houston, Texas.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images
This story was published on our Quartz Daily Brief newsletter, The concise, conversational rundown you need to start your day.
  • Sofia Lotto Persio
By Sofia Lotto Persio

Newsletter writer and editor

Published

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

The US averted a major rail strike (for now). President Joe Biden said unions and railway companies reached a tentative deal.

Ethereum completed its Merge. The ambitious software update should allow the world’s second largest cryptocurrency network to be faster, cheaper, and more energy efficient.

Patagonia’s billionaire founder exited his company to fight climate change. Yvon Chouinard and his family passed ownership of the $3 billion apparel maker to a trust and a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the environment.

California accused Amazon of antitrust violation. The state’s attorney general sued the company, alleging its contracts with third-party sellers stifle competition.

Shell’s new CEO comes from its gas and renewables division. Wael Sawan’s appointment to succeed Ben van Beurden signals a shift of priorities at the energy giant.

Brazil’s mobile payments provider EBANX expands to Africa. The fintech unicorn targeted Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.


What to watch for

VR enthusiasts who attend the Tokyo Game Show, an annual video game industry trade show that opens today, will be the first members of the general public to get their hands on the second generation of Sony’s PlayStation virtual reality headset, the PSVR2.

Once at the vanguard of VR development, the PSVR2 represents Sony’s renewed commitment to virtual reality. When it released the original PSVR in 2016, it quickly outsold competing headsets like the Oculus Rift and was listed as one of Time’s best inventions of the year. But while it earned positive reviews, less than 5% of PlayStation owners actually bought the device in the first three years after its launch. Sony executives seemingly lost interest in the technology as sales slumped in 2020. That October, Sony PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan predicted VR wouldn’t be a meaningful part of gaming for years.

So it came as something of a surprise—and a relief for VR enthusiasts—when Sony announced it was developing the PSVR2 in February 2021.


How worried is China about the tumbling yuan?

The Chinese yuan has dropped 9.5% this year against the US dollar, sliding closer to what some analysts deem as the significant seven-dollar mark. The Fed’s anticipated 75-point rate hike next week could cause the yuan to tumble even further.

One factor behind the yuan’s poor performance is the soaring value of the dollar. Another is China’s ongoing economic woes, from a struggling real estate sector to disruptions caused by its strict zero-covid policy.

So far, Chinese authorities don’t appear too rattled. In a policy briefing last week, Liu Guoqiang, China’s central bank deputy governor, stated: “In the future, the world will continue to enhance the recognition of the renminbi.”

Image copyright: Mary Hui

SDG progress check!

You’re going to hear a lot about SDGs—sustainable development goals—during the United Nations General Assembly, which kicked off this week in New York. And rightly so: In 2015, the UN member nations agreed to a series of ambitious targets (and here’s a helpful video explainer, in Japanese) meant to reduce poverty, fight inequality, and halt climate change by 2030.

Our latest limited email series, Need to Know: UNGA 2022, will track the progress made on a few key SDGs. Let’s wet your whistle with a few numbers:

17: Total SDGs.

193: UN member countries that agreed to the targets.

169: Individual targets within the SDGs themselves, like, “Reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births” or “Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification.”

$176 trillion: Estimated cost to achieve all the goals by 2030.

😬: Expected progress thus far.

Will the world’s biggest political summit surprise us by reporting impressive SDG achievements? We can hope! Follow along with our Need to Know: UNGA 2022 email, and get updates every few days for the next two weeks.



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Surprising discoveries

La Niña is back, back, again. The weather phenomenon has formed for a third consecutive year in the Pacific—only the third time this has happened since records began.

Fellow mammals can teach us how to soothe crying babies. Young animals become more docile when carried by a parent, an effect known as “transport response.”

Alien diamonds are harder than the earthling variety. Scientists suspect their unusual hexagonal structure has something to do with it.

Kazakhstan’s capital will return to its previous name. Astana had been renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019 to honor outgoing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, but relations between him and his successor have since soured.

Chinese influencers look to IKEA lockers for an American high school vibe. The fashion trend is all the rage on social media platform Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu), but authentic settings can be hard to come by.


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