🌏 China shifts to security

Plus: Are EVs really better for the environment?
🌏 China shifts to security

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Here’s what you need to know

China is increasing its military spending. A more than 7% increase to $225 billion was announced at the National People’s Congress yesterday.

Germany’s Olaf Scholz was in the US. He met with president Joe Biden to discuss their strategy in Ukraine as the war enters its second year.

A fight over Telecom Italia’s network brewed. The country’s largest telecoms provider is fielding competing bids from Italy’s state lender and Macquarie Group, and KKR.

Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski was jailed. The Belarusian human rights advocate was sentenced to 10 years in prison over anti-government protests.

A fire broke out at a Rohingya refugee camp. So far no deaths were reported at the site in southern Bangladesh, but thousands of people were left homeless.


What to watch for

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)’s coffers need replenishing, but proposed changes to the cost of various visa applications which, in some cases, would more than double, have been described as “simply unfair,” “outrageous,” and “untenable.”

The proposal’s public consultation period was due to close today (Mar. 6), but has been postponed to Mar. 13 after a glitch last month prevented the submission of comments for several hours. Some commentators speculated that the deadline extension might give time to garner more positive feedback amid a deluge of negative responses.

The proposal has received more than 4,000 comments so far, some of which reflect how such increases would impact workers and businesses in sectors from farming to entertainment. Many end with the same plea: “I urge you to reconsider.”


Are EVs really better for the environment?

Electric vehicle sales have been accelerating, but while the cars may be emissionless, their manufacturing process certainly isn’t.

But if the elements in an EV take such a heavy ecological toll, are they really so much cleaner than gas-fueled internal combustion engines? Compare the two options wheel-to-wheel, you’ll see a pretty clear winner.

A bar chart showing the life-cycle carbon emissions intensity of internal combustion engine vehicles vs. electrics vehicles.
Graphic: Clarisa Diaz and Mary Hui

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The future of Escobar’s cocaine hippos

The muddy waters of Pablo Escobar’s abandoned ranch are home to a herd of 3,000–pound problems: invasive hippopotamuses.

While the hefty mammals love Colombia’s ecosystem, the environment doesn’t love them back. The natural habitats of the country’s manatees and capybaras are paying the price for Escobar’s cocaine pets. But the hippos may finally be getting a new home.


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🔩 How are Russian airlines still flying if they can’t import spare parts?


Surprising discoveries

Come on down to fungus town. A community in Tennessee has whiskey to blame for a pesky black mold that’s coating homes and trees.

All aboard the escape-your-daily-life cruise. For $30,000 a year, a ship could be your new home.

Ford is working on cars that could repossess themselves. If repo is too expensive, they’ll just drive themselves straight to the junkyard.

Deep boreholes could solve our nuclear waste problem... They’d keep waste much farther away from groundwater, for one thing.

… and clean energy could also bring us clean water. Nuclear fusion power could finally make desalination reality—we just need to make fusion power a reality first. Episode 2 of the Quartz Obsession takes the plunge into our fusion powered future.

🎧 Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher


Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, bermuda shorts, and fusion food 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, and Morgan Haefner.