🌏 China’s police crackdown

Plus: The power of the blank sheet of paper.
Police officers confront a man as they block Wulumuqi street, named for Urumqi in Mandarin, in Shanghai on November 27, 2022 amid a protest.
Police officers confront a man as they block Wulumuqi street, named for Urumqi in Mandarin, in Shanghai on November 27, 2022 amid a protest.
Photo: Hector Retamal (Getty Images)

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Here’s what you need to know

China deployed police to quash protests. Authorities in Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities clamped down on demonstrations which have now extended to Hong Kong and shocked global markets.

The WHO recommended monkeypox be called “mpox.” The agency cited concerns over racism and stigmatization as reasons for renaming.

Ireland fined Meta $275 million. Facebook’s parent company has now received over $900 million in European penalties since 2021 for breaking EU data privacy law.

Elon Musk said Apple has reduced its advertising on Twitter. The tech giant, one of Twitter’s biggest advertisers, has also threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store, according to Musk.

Sony will supply Apple with iPhone 15 tech. The company’s semiconductor group will provide advanced image sensors for the new smartphone expected to hit the market in 2023.

BlockFi filed for bankruptcy. The crypto lender is the latest in a string of platforms in the digital assets market that have crumbled following FTX’s collapse.

The UK launched a £1 billion ($1.19 billion) program to fund home insulation. The “ECO+” scheme, beginning in early 2023, aims to improve energy efficiency and reduce foreign energy reliance.

What to watch for

The US football team needs to beat Iran today to qualify for the knockout stage of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup. For Iran, a draw under the right circumstances (i.e. England soundly defeating Wales) would be enough, but whether the team proceeds in the tournament or not, their presence at the global sporting bonanza has already successfully raised international awareness of the anti-government protests that have rocked the country since September.

Captain Ehsan Hajsafi openly expressed support for protesters, and the team refused to meet the country’s president Ebrahim Raisi before the tournament, as well as abstained from singing the national anthem in their opening match against England.

The government’s crackdown on protests, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police detention, has resulted in the death of more than 380 people and the imprisonment of thousands more. Tehran reportedly released about 700 prisoners on Friday (Nov. 25) after Iran’s win against Wales.

If you ◻️, you ◻️

Elsewhere, protestors from Beijing to Shanghai are demonstrating against China’s covid restrictions by holding aloft sheets of blank, white paper.

The now-dubbed “White Paper Revolution’’ (白纸革命) was sparked by an apartment block fire in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, which killed 10 people on Nov. 24. The incident sparked protests in the region, and eventually spread nationwide following a vigil in Shanghai this weekend. The white square has now become a ubiquitous symbol of dissent across China.

In stark contrast to today’s protests, throughout the 20th century, words played a big role in Chinese political movements, typically in the form of a “big character poster” (大字报). But now, amid a highly censored environment both online and off, Chinese citizens have ditched words altogether, saying “nothing” to both play by the authorities’ rules while also reshaping that blankness into a tool of resistance.

The origin of “gaslighting”

Merriam-Webster has its word of the year, and it’s clear a lot of people are feeling manipulated.

The winner, “gaslighting,” has “emerged as a word for our time,” the US publishing agency said. A single event didn’t spark interest in the term, such as two of Merriam-Webster’s other contenders for word of the year: oligarch and omicron.

Rather, the proliferation of ‘“fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes” has sustained a curiosity for the term. Maybe even more curious is how the metaphorical interpretation of the word, which literally means to light street lamps, came to be. As Quartz reporter Ananya Bhattacharya explains, it’s quite theatrical.

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Surprising discoveries

The “quietest place on Earth’’ may not be as disquieting as you think. According to one account, it’s like a trip to the spa, only more pricey and less comfy.

We’re one step closer to making R2D2-style holograms. A new modulator device can manipulate light, but thankfully not in a Darth Vader way.

Band-Aids have gotten a hi-tech upgrade. Smart wireless bandages” monitor wounds and apply electrical stimulation to speed-up healing.

Coffee could make a splash in your next bath… A Japanese company makes single-use coffee sachets to brew up your soaking time.  

… And at last someone’s invented a splash-free urinal. The “Nauti-loo” takes inspiration from nautilus shells.

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