🌍 The US shot down China’s balloon

Plus: Latin America is holding all the lithium cards
🌍 The US shot down China’s balloon

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Here’s what you need to know

US fighter jets shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon near the South Carolina coast. China called the move a violation of international practice, claiming the equipment was a weather balloon.

The UK is facing its biggest healthcare worker strike. Tens of thousands of medical personnel are expected to stage walkouts across the country today amid a heated pay dispute.

General Pervez Musharraf has died. The 79-year-old former president of Pakistan rose to power after a coup in 1999.

Tesla raised its prices. The cost of the EV maker’s Model Y vehicles is being hiked because of growing demand and changes to US tax credit rules.

Cyprus’s presidential election is heading to a runoff. Nikos Christodoulides, a former foreign minister, held the lead, but will face off Andreas Mavroyiannis on Feb. 12.

Pope Francis visited South Sudan. The pontiff pleaded for an immediate end to civil conflict in the region, which has displaced more than 4 million people since 2013.

What to watch for

Activision Blizzard is due to post its fourth-quarter earnings today (Feb. 6). The antitrust scrutiny surrounding Microsoft’s $69 billion bid to buy the video game developer provided enough reason to pay attention to the results, but a fine imposed by US federal regulators for neglecting employee complaints added some spice to the mix.

Activision Blizzard agreed to pay a $35 million fee to settle an extensive probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission that stems from claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Regulators found the company failed to create the structure to address misconduct complaints, and that it put undue pressure on employees who were cooperating in the probe.

Today’s earnings report is expected to provide a bright spot, buoyed by the success of expansion to titles such as Call of Duty… if only management heeded a similar call at the time of the misconduct complaints.

Latin America is holding all the lithium cards

German chancellor Olaf Scholz flew to Latin America last week for one enticing, silvery reason: lithium. He’s not the only world leader looking to tap the region’s reserves.

Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, the world’s so-called lithium triangle, hold vast deposits of the sought-after metal used to power everything from our phones to electric vehicles. With lithium prices soaring, and the world scrambling to secure mining contracts, Latin America’s leaders are looking to leverage their natural advantage.

In Chile, president Gabriel Boric wants to pass new mining regulations, and intends to create a state-run lithium company that will partner with private firms. Meanwhile, Bolivian president Luis Arce signed a billion-dollar deal with China last month to develop a domestic battery manufacturing sector.

Both leftist presidents aim to convert the natural resource into national wealth, but that can be a lengthy process. The question is if they can still cash in while demand is hot.

The YouTube strike is sending a signal about remote work

Tech companies were some of the first to shutter their offices and allow employees to work from home when the pandemic arrived in the US. But a recent strike among YouTube contractors, who protested a return to the office, shows just how much things have changed since those first months of Zoom calls from the kitchen table.

As Quartz’s Michelle Cheng explains, what’s playing out now is a philosophical argument—pitting the idea that workers are at their best when they have agency over their time versus the common belief among CEOs that the best ideas happen when there are spontaneous collisions between employees seeing each other in the hallway or chatting over coffee (a model that Steve Jobs believed in).

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Surprising discoveries

There’s an invisible mark 62 miles above Earth where space begins. It’s called the Kármán line, but it’s more of a physics thing than anything else.

Conveyor belt sushi may come with a side of spit. Stocks of some iconic restaurants in Japan fell after videos on TikTok and Twitter showed customers licking items as they passed by.

Florida has more jobs than New York for the first time. The sunny US state isn’t just for retirees.

Quolls are taking the motto “you can sleep when you’re dead” to heart. Males of the endangered marsupial species aren’t resting and instead mating themselves to death.

Don’t trust a hungry 6-year-old with a food delivery app. They might just order $1,000 worth of noms.

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