Trump threatens WHO, Disney x TikTok, The Scream

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Here’s what you need to know

Donald Trump threatened to freeze WHO funding. The US president wants reforms within 30 days, and proof of the agency’s independence from China. Trump also said he’s been taking an anti-malaria drug as protection against Covid-19, despite scientists’ warnings.

The UK revealed its post-Brexit tariff regime. It said that its new system of levies would be simpler and cheaper than the EU’s Common External Tariff. Britain’s trade negotiators are aiming for deals covering 80% of its imports and exports within three years.

Nasdaq is reportedly tightening its listing restrictions. The new rules will make it harder for some Chinese companies to launch their initial public offerings on the US stock exchange, Reuters reports. They could choose London instead.

TikTok became a little less Chinese, and a lot more American. ByteDance hired Kevin Mayer, who led the launch of the Disney+ streaming service last year, to run its popular video app and also serve as the Beijing-based parent company’s chief operating officer.

The US retail industry is in dire straits. It’s one of the biggest employers, but stores are closed, rent is going unpaid, and staff are claiming benefits. The government doesn’t want to hand over money for nothing, but economists—as well as workers and business owners—are calling for urgent assistance.

Taiwan, WHO?

Image: REUTERS/Ann Wang

WHO member states convened virtually this week for the World Health Assembly (WHA), and were expecting to vote yesterday on whether Taiwan should be invited to join the body as an observer. It might not have succeeded, but the number of countries willing to publicly support Taipei in spite of Beijing’s threats would have served as an indicator of how much damage China’s heavy-handed response to the pandemic has done to its global standing.

Instead, Taiwan pulled its bid, saying that its allies would prefer the two-day event be used to tackle pandemic responses. But the foreign minister’s statement made Taiwan’s position clear: “The people of Taiwan abhor the two-faced behavior of the Chinese government, which claims to care for their health and welfare while actually seeking to deprive them of their right to health at every turn.”

Charting the meat market

In 2019, the US produced more than 103 billion pounds of beef, pork, and chicken, and exported about a fifth of that. But Covid-19 has brought American meat production to its knees, and the shortage has resulted in higher prices for some consumers. And Brazil, a major rival, is seeing an opportunity.

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For Quartz members: A second helping of meat

Let’s take a deeper dive into the numbers and find out what’s at steak.

  • 80%-90% of the US beef supply is produced by four companies.
  • 36% is the year-over-year decline in cattle slaughtered daily in the US.
  • 130,000 people work in US meatpacking plants.
  • 5,000 of them have tested positive for coronavirus.
  • 20 have died.

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You asked about emissions

Are carbon emissions decreasing with less use of gasoline powered vehicles and aircraft?

The short answer is “yes.” The long answer is “Yes, but not enough to make a real difference.” Quartz reporter Tim McDonnell talked to some climate scientists about what a pause on emissions indicates for our future. In the short term, the shuttered factories and construction sites, grounded airplanes, parked cars, falling electricity use, and vanishing oil demand are enough to get us on track. UK-based research outfit Carbon Brief found that during the peak of its shutdown, China’s emissions dropped 25%. But as shutdown conditions relax, emissions are likely to jump right back to business as usual, said Simon Evans, a biochemist and Carbon Brief’s deputy editor. China’s oil demand is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

We wish we had better news for you. Even sustained emissions reductions on this scale wouldn’t be enough to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. To make that possible, emissions need to drop 7.6% every year this decade, according to the UN.

Surprising discoveries

A British man made a device to enable him to hug his grandma. It’s called the “cuddle curtain.”

Humans are teaching baby orangutans how to climb trees. A forest school in Borneo rescues the endangered animals and prepares them for a life in the wild.

The Scream needs a timeout. The 1910 version of the Munch’s masterpiece is fading and flaking from the humidity, including when breathed upon by crowds.

Martian mud flows behave like boiling toothpaste. Researchers recreated the Red Planet’s environment in a lab to study what volcanoes spewing muck instead of lava would look like.

A sinkhole outside Rome’s Pantheon revealed ancient paving stones. The seven slabs, made of sedimentary rock, seem to date from between 27 and 25 BC.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, a cuddle curtain, and baby animals to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Hasit Shah.