Tour de France, Czechs in Taiwan, Prince vs. capitalism

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Donald Trump accepted his renomination from the White House. Flouting tradition and regulation to not use the executive mansion for politically partisan events, the US president spoke in front of a packed and mostly maskless crowd and cast himself as a defender of the American way of life against an assault by radical forces.

The World Bank halted its national competitiveness rankings report. Citing data irregularities from China, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, the organization said it is launching an independent audit of the process behind its flagship annual publication that ranks the business environments of different countries.

The Tour de France is on wobbly wheels. Scheduled to start tomorrow in Nice, the cycling race could be canceled altogether as the Alpes-Maritimes region through which the opening stages of the race winds was put on red alert amid spreading coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, face masks will be mandatory in Paris starting today as the WHO warned of rising cases in Europe.

Shinzo Abe addresses concerns over his health. Speculation has been rife about whether the Japanese prime minister will be able to serve out the rest of his term, following two hospital visits within a week, with one lasting eight hours, possibly linked to a chronic illness.

A high-stakes Czech trip to Taiwan. Despite stern warnings from China, senate president Miloš Vystrčil, Prague’s mayor, and a large delegation of business leaders, politicians, and scientists are pushing ahead with their visit to the island nation, where Vystrčil is expected to address parliament.

Obsession Interlude: Fixing capitalism

“Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.”

Prince, here citing the Black Lives Matter movement at the Grammys in 2015, is perhaps a slightly unusual standard-bearer for Quartz’s Fixing Capitalism obsession. Bear with us.

The singer, songwriter, and musician was part of the holy trinity of the 1980s, alongside Michael Jackson and Madonna. But despite his enormous commercial success, Prince decided by the early 90s to hold the entire music industry to account. He demanded that the mighty Warner Bros, with whom he had recently signed a new multimillion-dollar deal, hand over the master recordings of his biggest hits. “If you don’t own your masters,” he said, “your masters own you.” It’s a story of economic empowerment, systemic change, and justice.

In our reporting, we look at the same fault lines that Prince identified. And we do it while listening to this Fixing Capitalism playlist, a collection of songs—a triple album, really—about money, poverty, inequality, power, and opportunity.

Pop in here to see what else we’re covering in our new Fixing Capitalism obsession.

Charting LinkedIn geography

With people spending less time in public spaces and more time communicating online, geography has become practically irrelevant for many employers.

That trend is showing up in LinkedIn’s connection data. In late 2019, the company started to promote connections between people who actually know each other, rather than with people they found on the internet.  But despite the new policy, connections between people in different metro areas started to grow after the pandemic hit the US.

A chart showing LinkedIn connections between US users in different metro areas

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Classic college films, but make them coronavirus

Quartz imagined what the movie plots of four classic university films would look like, if they took place during this year’s fall semester:

🤓 Revenge of the Nerds: A group of socially awkward computer science majors gets its long-awaited revenge on the less socially awkward computer science majors by challenging them to a contest to build a startup successful enough to justify dropping out of school. A prank montage involving hacked computer cameras disrupts multiple industries—not to mention class.

🎵 Pitch Perfect: A ragtag a capella group must contend with its new status as superspreaders after an outbreak is traced back to its fall semester tryouts. In the end, we learn that, no matter where we all fall within a complex campus popularity hierarchy, we’re all the same when they’ve got a Covid test up a nostril.

🍻 Old School: Mitch starts taking online college classes to fill his lockdown boredom, though he’s long past traditional college age. And, despite an awkward in-bedroom streaking scene, he and his friends go on to become virtual campus legends by inventing sourdough starter wrestling.

As coronavirus forces universities to contend with a shift to remote learning and existential dilemma over the value of campus life, films of the future will have to figure out how to bring high-stakes campus drama online. Read more in our field guide to higher ed going remote.

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You Asked about pandemic fashion

How is coronavirus affecting the fashion industry? What is the future of business wear, casual wear, anything that we wear?

The pandemic has walloped the fashion industry. At its start, factories around Asia paused work, and then Western brands canceled orders to avoid building up unsellable inventory, dealing a huge blow to garment-exporting countries and their workers.

As the lockdowns spread, stores closed and tourism plunged, drying up a major source of sales for luxury brands in particular. Only online retailers seemed immune. High-fashion labels finally embraced digital sales, and may even be warming to Amazon. Fashion weeks went online too, though physical shows are already on their way back. Overall, the big players will survive the turmoil, but many independent designers may not.

So, what are people actually wearing? On the high-end, rare sneakers and handbags have maintained their popularity. Office clothes such as dress shoes and men’s suits have not. The only growth areas worth talking about are in loungewear and athleisure—and luxury face masks of course. One unexpected upside: Fashion retailers say their costly returns are down.

Surprising discoveries

China’s internment camps were blanked out. An investigation zeroed in on blank squares on Baidu Maps to reveal 315 facilities very likely being used as prisons and camps for Muslim minorities.

Elephants need some help forgetting… The Warsaw zoo will attempt to de-stress its herd with medical marijuana.

…while an old coach is learning new tricks. Veteran soccer manager José Mourinho said he is adding Korean to the six languages he already speaks to better communicate with a star player.

A 17th-century Dutch masterpiece was stolen…again. Thieves made off with Frans Hals’s Two Laughing Boys, marking the third time the painting has been pilfered.

Online gamers raised funds to restore precious Japanese swords. The centuries-old weapons were damaged by heavy rain last month, and fans of a video game have rallied to save the blades.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, calm elephants, and communicative coaches to 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 Mary Hui, Isabella Steger, Susan Howson, and Max Lockie.