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Here’s what you need to know
Hong Kong announced charges for this year’s Tiananmen Square vigil. Activist Joshua Wong was among the two dozen charged for taking part in the commemoration, which was banned for the first time. Separately, a court in China sentenced a third Canadian national to death following a conviction for manufacturing ketamine, and Beijing threatened to make trouble over US health secretary Alex Azar’s Taiwan visit.
The US doubled down on efforts to regulate Chinese companies trading on American exchanges. The administration of president Donald Trump proposed that firms already listed on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange will have to undergo a US audit by 2022, and any companies seeking to be listed will have to pass muster to be accepted.
Microsoft reportedly wants all of TikTok’s business. Acquisition talks have expanded to include the video streaming app’s operations in India and Europe, according to the Financial Times. Meanwhile, Google deleted more than 2,500 YouTube channels with ties to China, Twitter announced new labels for state-controlled media and government officials, and Facebook refused to hand over Myanmar officials’ data to assist in a genocide case.
Tom Nook paid dividends. Nintendo’s operating profit jumped 428% year-over-year as it sold 5.68 million Switch devices and more than 10 million copies of its hit game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Unfortunately for Toyota and Uber, no one is buying cars or hailing them. But a soaring cargo business handed Korea Air an industry-defying quarterly profit.
India’s defense ministry scrubbed a posting about the Chinese border dispute. A document that for the first time admitted an intrusion into India’s territory in May was uploaded to and then hastily removed from the ministry’s website. The spat has spilled over to the world of sport, as Chinese smartphone maker Vivo pulled its sponsorship of the Indian Premier League. But Indian shoppers are still gobbling up Chinese goods (✦ Quartz member exclusive).
New York’s attorney general is suing the National Rifle Association. Letitia James announced Thursday that she would also be suing four individual members of the NRA’s leadership—all under the argument that the organization’s deep-seated corruption makes doing business as a nonprofit illegal.
Trusting the 2020 US presidential polls
Don’t discount the underdog. On July 14, we asked the readers of this email “Would you rather be a dog or a ghost?” Thousands responded. 46% of you said you would rather be a dog, 43% of you chose ghost, and 12% were undecided.
This three point advantage for dog over ghost is almost exactly the same as Hillary Clinton’s lead on Donald Trump going into the 2016 US presidential election. Yet as we know, Clinton didn’t win. Still, if you made us bet on who would win an official vote on Quartz readers between dog and ghost, we would still go with dog. As Quartz data editor Dan Kopf explains in his exploration of whether we can still trust survey data, 2016 polls were not all that inaccurate, and polling was very precise for 2018 midterms. So if you want to put some trust in Biden-Trump polls, go right ahead.
Charting lipstick sales
During dire economic times, lipstick sales spike—or so goes the logic of the “lipstick index,” a shorthand to gauge consumer spending. When more extravagant luxuries seem out of reach, the index suggests, lipstick is an affordable treat.
That economic indicator hasn’t held up during the current pandemic-induced recession—just yesterday Shiseido said its earnings were sharply down in the first half of 2020. Not only do masks cover up the mouth, but have you ever tried to wear lipstick and a mask at the same time? Even before the pandemic, the lipstick index was becoming less and less reliable, and it might be time to let it go.
✦ For members: Show your future self the money
It’s a tricky time to try and carve out a clear path for your financial future, and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Our Mindful Money series continues with advice that may cut through the confusion and give you some clear direction.
- Regarding retirement, the “4% rule” is a great starting point, but there are other factors that have to be considered.
- Learn the way of the saving samurai from an anonymous financial blogger whose advice you may not always like to hear.
- Dabble in the financial corners of Reddit, but please, keep some caveats in mind.
✦ There is one true way towards accessing all of our articles, presentations, field guides, and workshops—sign up for a Quartz membership.
You asked about Covid-19 and pregnancy
How worried should I be about Covid-19 if I’m pregnant?
We wish we had a solid answer for you here, but we think it’s important to know just why the answer is so nebulous, at least in the US. Some studies have suggested that pregnant women of color are disproportionately affected by severe cases of coronavirus, and that any woman with Covid-19 at the time of delivery is more likely to experience complications.
But before you panic, we need to tell you that, consistent with the US’s poor track record when it comes to maternal health data, the numbers we have so far are poorly collected, and overall unreliable. “We do not know the total number of cases and are seeing in these data the cases that represent those who are most likely to get tested and to have their status reported,” says Neel Shah, a gynecologist at Harvard Medical School who has long been working to tackle maternal mortality in the US. So the total number of pregnant women with Covid-19 remains unknown.
It will take a long time to get clarity, too. Because records often don’t accurately account for the cause of death and require extensive review, data on maternal mortality in the US currently takes years to be collected and formally analyzed. The one thing we do know is that, while taking every precaution is a good idea just in case, excessive worrying isn’t good for you or the baby.
A 96-year-old finally earned his college degree. Giuseppe Paternò graduated with honors from the University of Palermo.
Scientists are aglow over a new solid fluorescent material. Typically, only gases and liquids exhibit fluorescence.
He’s gotta have his vape. Malaysia’s foreign minister got busted smoking an e-cigarette behind his face mask during parliamentary proceedings.
A rare mutant honeybee is both male and female. A beekeeper in the US noticed one bee had radar-dish eyes typical of males, even though its abdomen, stinger, and wings were clearly female.
Microsoft Excel wins this round. Scientists have renamed 27 human genes because the spreadsheet software kept reading them as dates.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Excel hacks, and fluorescent objects to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Annalisa Merelli, Dan Kopf, Alexandra Ossola, Liz Webber, and Susan Howson.