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Here’s what you need to know
The US president banned TikTok and WeChat. Donald Trump made transactions with the apps, or their Chinese parent companies, illegal in 45 days’ time. TikTok is “shocked” by the executive order. The US gaming industry—WeChat parent Tencent owns or has major stakes in popular games including League of Legends and Fortnite—could be collateral damage.
The Trump administration also increased pressure on US-listed Chinese companies. Officials are trying to force them to follow US auditing rules or delist by 2022, which could cut off China’s technology companies from a major source of capital.
Another Canadian national was sentenced to death in China. Ye Jianhui is the second Canadian in two days to face execution, this time in the southern city of Foshan. Police reportedly found large quantities of ecstasy in his room. Meanwhile, Meng Wangzhou, an executive at China’s Huawei, is still in Canada awaiting extradition to the US.
Protests against the government broke out in Beirut. Following the devastating explosion in the city on Tuesday, which killed at least 137 people and injured thousands, anger at the perceived corruption and negligence of Lebanese officials led to clashes with security forces last night.
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. As we know, Clinton didn’t win. But 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.
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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 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 take 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.
Scientists are aglow over a new solid fluorescent material. Typically, only gases and liquids exhibit fluorescence.
Italians are reviving a plague-era drinking tradition. “Wine windows” allow shops and bars to serve needed alcohol from a safe distance.
A lack of sports bras hinders women in Africa from doing sports. A charity is now remedying that by donating the garments to girls in need.
He’s gotta have his vape. Malaysia’s foreign minister got busted smoking an e-cigarette behind his face mask during parliamentary proceedings.
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 email@example.com. 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 Hasit Shah, Annalisa Merelli, Dan Kopf, Alexandra Ossola, Liz Webber, and Susan Howson.