🌎 State of US healthcare

Plus: A new book from Salman Rushdie.
🌎 State of US healthcare

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

President Joe Biden’s state of the union address will focus on healthcare. The speech is expected to renew a push to cap the price of insulin for all patients, not just those covered by Medicare. 

Bed Bath & Beyond raised more than $1 billion. The struggling retailer struck an equity deal to stay afloat, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Softbank’s flagship Vision Fund reported losses for a fourth consecutive quarter. The Japanese giant’s tech-focused investment arm recorded a pre-tax loss of $5 billion.

L’Oreal faces nearly 60 lawsuits in the US over its hair relaxers. The French beauty behemoth is accused of knowingly using cancer-linked chemicals in the product.

Falling numbers of meat buyers hurt Tyson Foods’ profit. Shares of the largest meat company in the US fell more than 5% after first-quarter earnings missed expectations.

Search engines are reading rivals to ChatGPT. Google is preparing to release Bard, a lightweight version of its LaMDA AI engine, while Baidu said it will make its Ernie Bot available in March.

The White House secured investment pledges worth $4.2 billion for Central American countries. Forty-seven American companies including Target joined the initiative to direct private-sector spending to countries lacking in economic opportunities.


What to watch for

Victory City, Salman Rushdie’s first novel since his 2019 Quichotte is published today (Feb. 7) in the US and later this week (Feb. 9) in the UK. It’s also the first work by the Indian-born British-American author released since he was attacked at an event in New Jersey in August last year.

The Booker Prize-winning writer won’t be doing any in-person promotion for the books, but can count on the help of his fellow authors. In the wake of the attack, fans bought up copies of his books in support, and pre-order numbers for Victory City show they’re still at it.

Rushdie had completed the manuscript for the novel shortly before he was stabbed, but some of its themes will resonate even more strongly in light of the attack. The novel’s last sentence, “words are the only victors,” speaks directly to Rushdie’s legacy of addressing weighty and often controversial themes despite threats to his safety.


The Turkey-Syria earthquake, by the digits

It will be a while before the total destruction of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria comes into focus, but its impact has already been devastating.

The United States Geological Survey, which monitors and researches quakes, estimates that there’s a 47% chance that the final number of fatalities in central Turkey and northwestern Syria will land between 1,000 and 10,000.

Here are some other ways to contextualize the catastrophe.

17,500: Death toll during the last major 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey in 1999

2000 years: Age of the Gaziantep Castle, used by Romans and Byzantines, destroyed by the quakes

30%: Chance that the loss to the Turkish economy is between $10 billion and $100 billion, per the USGS

18.85: Value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar, a new low


The argument for reflection

Completing a bulky project and never looking back is often wildly tempting. But teams who tend to just move onto the next item on the list miss an opportunity to make their future work a lot more effective (not to mention painless).

That’s why reflection is key, according to Atlassian’s Mark Cruth. “Doing this habitually builds psychological safety, one of the key attributes of high-performing teams,” says Cruth, who also gives advice on how to break down a retrospective into six steps that take 60 minutes total.

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Surprising discoveries

Scientists created “amorphous ice.” It has some important implications for understanding the universe, but we’re wondering if it works in an iced coffee.

The top-rated restaurant in Montreal was a fake listing. Le Nouveau Duluth is nonexistent; its tapas, illusory.

The last 747 drew a farewell. En route to Cincinnati, the “Queen of the Skies” spelled out a “747” with its flight path.

Internet humor is going offline. Popular Instagram accounts like @depthsofwikipedia are swapping retweets for in-person reactions.

A possibly habitable planet was found 31 light-years away. Half of it is plunged in perpetual darkness, which could be a real coup for interstellar vampires.


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