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Lebanon’s government resigned. Prime minister Hassan Diab announced the mass resignation in a national TV address following last week’s explosion of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate in Beirut that killed more than 200 people. France called for the quick formation of a new government, while still heeding protesters’ calls for reform, and the UN’s food chief raised the alarm that the city could run out of bread very soon.
The Hong Kong crackdown continues… Following the arrest of independent newspaper owner Jimmy Lai, pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow was also arrested for “inciting secession” under the new National Security Law. In Beijing, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee wraps up today after passing new censorship rules.
…while Macau opens back up. For the first time since January, tourist visas will be issued for the global gambling hotspot. Morgan Stanley estimated the travel ban cost local operators $15 million a day. US casino stocks received a bump on the news.
TikTok’s Trump lawsuit could arrive today. Sources told NPR that the ByteDance subsidiary plans to challenge the US president’s executive order banning the video-sharing app with a lawsuit that may be filed as soon as today. TikTok also announced the first recipients of its $1 billion fund for US-based creators on Monday.
Prime real estate
Amazon has reportedly been in talks with Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the US, about turning some of the spaces occupied by its anchor department stores—including bankrupt big boxes JC Penney and Sears—into distribution warehouses.
Would it bother you if part of your disused local mall was turned into an Amazon fulfillment center? (Before you answer, you might want to check out the pros and cons.)
Tell us how you feel:
Charting peak tie dye
Twisting fabric and dunking it in dye has been in and out of fashion for thousands of years. We don’t have data on Indian bandhani output from 3000 BC or shibori sales in 8th-century Japan, but we can pull Google searches for “tie dye” for the past few years.
People without a lot to do have turned to both churning out the patterns themselves—an Etsy representative says searches for DIY tie-dye kits have nearly tripled in volume compared to the same time last year—and buying clothing pre-dyed.
How do workers feel about returning to the office?
Halvsies. A poll by Adecco Group of 1,000 office workers in eight countries found that most people wanted to spend 51% of their time in the office, and 49% remote.
Getting stuff done. Deutsche Bank found in a July poll that 70% of people surveyed said they were more productive working from home.
Newbie nostalgia. An April 2020 survey conducted by software company Smartsheet found that the youngest workers were struggling the most with working from home, despite being the most tech-savvy.
Not all bad. Around 37% of people surveyed in July by Qualtrics and Quartz thought culture at their workplace had improved since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Read more about how Covid-19 is forcing companies across the world to discover what “the office” means to them in our latest field guide.
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Join us for a free workshop
Whether its in-person or virtual, how can your workplace become more inclusive? The journey may not always be easy, but we are here to point you in the direction of change, no matter where you are in the company org chart.
Register to join us on August 13th from 11-12pm EDT for our second workshop on how to build an antiracist company. In this free virtual event, our panel will take more of your questions and offer advice.
We asked why rapid testing is elusive in the US
Why is the US so far behind on rapid testing for Covid-19?
OK, we’ll be honest. You didn’t ask that, but Quartz special projects editor Alex Ossola did, and then found out the answer. Despite having the highest infection rate in the world, the US has a testing rate of about 12.5 tests per confirmed case, far lower than many other countries hit hard by the virus. Americans are still waiting up to two weeks for their results, too late for them to be useful, as the symptomless infected walk among us, rendering questionnaire and temperature screening methods moot.
Fortunately, quicker tests are on their way. The NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative seeks to speed up the development of tests. In April, Congress allocated $1.5 billion towards the program; last week, RADx announced the seven tests that passed the preliminary round of vetting and will now be produced en masse. They all work differently, and none of them are perfect, but increased testing could lead to some degree of normalcy within bubbles and possibly cheaper tests for all.
Mauritians are shaving their heads to keep an oil spill at bay. Determined residents have woven floating barriers from their own hair to contain the catastrophic spill.
Time is a flat circle. A new theory of an endless “cyclic universe” sets itself up against the Big Bang theory of creation.
Cedar is good for shoes and, now, shooing bugs. Nootkatone, a chemical found in cedar trees and grapefruit, has been approved to safely repel disease-carrying insects.
Pet parental leave as a perk. $300 stipends, dog Zoom meetings, and even time off to welcome new puppies are some of corporate America’s latest employee benefits.
Facial recognition wasn’t Apple’s timeliest idea. New York’s transit authority formally asked Apple to release a way to unlock phones that didn’t require riders to remove masks.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, bug repellants, and wads of human hair 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 Alexandra Ossola, Susan Howson, and Max Lockie.