🌏 The final covid frontier

Plus: Want better movies? Tax the rich
🌏 The final covid frontier

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China is bracing for a covid wave that could infect more than 840 million people. The lifting of strict pandemic measures means many residents will face the virus for the first time.

Orion returned to Earth. The uncrewed space capsule splashed into the Pacific ocean yesterday, ending NASA’s month-long Artemis I test flight to the Moon.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced to nearly six years in prison. The pro-democracy billionaire was found guilty of fraud charges in what many see as an attempt to quash dissent against Beijing.

Air India prepared a massive expansion. The Tata Group-owned airline is planning to purchase 500 jets from Boeing and Airbus, according to Reuters.

South Korea’s interior minister found himself in hot water. The country’s parliament passed a motion to dismiss Lee Sang-min in the aftermath of a crush that killed 156 people.

Pakistan restricted imports. The country is struggling to pay foreign debts and is seeking its next round of bailout financing from the International Monetary Fund.

A 1988 Lockerbie bombing suspect was arrested. Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who was charged with creating the device that destroyed Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland, is in US custody.

What to watch for

The US has a shot at rekindling its relationship with Africa this week. Dec. 13-15, president Joe Biden will host around 50 heads of states and senior leaders from across the African continent in Washington, DC. The three-day event provides a forum for government officials and business leaders to connect.

The first US-Africa summit was hosted in 2014 by president Barack Obama, but since then, the US put this diplomatic exercise on the backburner. Donald Trump didn’t host the summit during his time at the White House. In taking over the event from Obama, Biden described the summit as an opportunity for collaboration.

The US has often looked at the continent more like a problem to solve than a partner in trade and innovation. This week, it can show that it’s willing to commit to a stronger relationship, not just in theory but in practice, too.

Want better movies? Tax the rich

Roll out the red carpet for higher taxes, because it may just mean better films on the big screen.

Aside from lowering inequality, raising government revenue, and increasing happiness, higher taxes might also lead to higher-quality movies, a new study found. Research from economists at Louisiana State University shows that from 1927-2014, actors appeared in more award-winning films when tax rates were high.

The math checks out: When it comes to a marginal tax rate, high-earning movie stars take a sizable hit. So in times with high taxes, actors appear to choose more quality projects—that pay less—to avoid a bigger cut to their paycheck. In short, they opt for prestige over pay.

Think of George Clooney, who agreed to write, direct, and star in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck for just $3. The film ended up grabbing six Academy Award nominations.

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Surprising discoveries

An 18-year-old that lives with his parents is now the mayor of a US city. Jaylen Smith will lead the 1,785 people of Earle, Arkansas.

California authorities permitted a girl to own a unicorn. All she has to do is find one.

Amazon plotted the death of the barcode. Instead of scannable lines, the e-commerce giant wants to use robot cameras to monitor items as they move through warehouses.

What “walks, talks, quacks like a human vagina”? A lab-created version of the real organ that’s helping scientists test medicines for bacterial infections.

There’s a trash pile that’s 62 meters (203 feet) tall in Delhi. And it’s not even the city’s largest.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, unicorn feed, and vintage barcodes to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Nate DiCamillo, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.