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Here’s what you need to know
NATO called the Nord Stream pipeline leaks an act of sabotage. The military alliance stated, in a first, that it would “deter and defend” against attacks on “critical infrastructure.” Meanwhile, Russia blamed the leaks on state-backed “terrorism.”
Germany announced a $195 billion (€200 billion) energy fund. The money will be used to support consumers and businesses as they face soaring energy prices and the highest inflation in 25 years.
Russia is set to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine. The Kremlin announced it will host a ceremony today. The UN has called the move a “dangerous escalation.”
Kenya raised its key interest rate. It was hiked to 8.25%, its biggest increase since 2015, in the central bank’s first move since William Ruto became president.
The US and Pacific Islands agreed on a partnership. The Biden administration has reportedly pledged $860 million in investments to expand programs in the region.
France faced nationwide strikes. Workers in the energy, transportation, and education sectors called for better wages and protested plans to raise the pension age.
SoftBank will lay off at least 30% of its Vision Fund staff. Cuts in the company’s investment arm follow a $23 billion loss that was announced in August.
Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Games Group will pour $37.8 billion into esports. Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman aims to make the Kingdom a leader in the gaming industry.
What to watch for
There’s a chance we’ll officially meet Optimus today, the Tesla humanoid robot that CEO Elon Musk debuted at his company’s AI day last year (though there wasn’t a whole lot to see for a robot that is supposed to one day drive cars). This year is shaping up to be different, as Tesla’s second AI event was pushed to Sept. 30 in the hopes that the Optimus prototype would be ready to wave hello.
The timing is, one could say, optimal—in the first half of this year, North American companies bought a record number of robots to run their factories amid shortages and supply chain hiccups. But repetitive and even dangerous factory work is just one of the jobs Tesla hopes Optimus can take on. Ideally, Opti’s to-do list will look something like this:
🍳 Cook breakfast
🚙 Drive the kids to school
🚜 Mow the lawn
🧓🏽 Take care of grandpa
🧺 Carry 45 lbs
👭 Be a friend?
People can’t keep chill about iced coffee
This Saturday, as caffeine enthusiasts snag a deal on International Coffee Day, there’s a good chance they’ll put their order on ice. Cold beverages now make up about three-quarters of total beverage sales at Starbucks company-owned stores in the US. Even Nestlé, the maker of Nespresso machines, has started catering to the cold coffee crowd.
The convenience of bottled coffee has helped facilitate cold coffee’s growth in the past five years. Like their warmer counterparts, iced coffee drinks also are highly customizable—see the TikTok trend of sharing iced coffee preferences at Starbucks—and more easily noticed when served in a clear cup.
Surprisingly, winter hasn’t cooled iced coffee sales as it has in the past. In December 2021, ready-to-drink coffee unit sales rose 18.8% compared to the same month a year before. Starbucks has even rolled out new cold brew flavors in the winter.
Are you a die-hard hot coffee drinker, or do you change with the weather? Let us know!
The economic case against unpaid domestic work
Until there’s an Optimus in every home, each year, women and girls will contribute a whopping $10.8 trillion to the global economy in unpaid labor. Everyone benefits from this unpaid work, so wouldn’t it make sense for people to get compensated for it?
Quartz asked economists to weigh in, and their answers are more complicated than you’d think.
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Lindt’s gold-wrapped Easter bunnies won legal protection. A judge ruled copycat products must be destroyed (or, rather, melted and repurposed).
A 200-year-old crystal flute finally got some stage time. Performer Lizzo played the rare instrument, which belonged to US president James Madison, at her Washington, DC concert.
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Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, vibe checks, and gold-wrapped chocolate to email@example.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Michelle Cheng, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.