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The cost of King’s dream, Uganda election, job phishing

Martin Luther King Jr. speaks after meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson to discuss civil rights at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 3, 1963.
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Incumbent Yoweri Museveni was reelected in Uganda. The 76-year-old’s chief opponent, Bobi Wine, says he will contest the results despite being afraid for his life, and urged peaceful rejection to his supporters. The government continues to withhold internet access.

Russia’s opposition leader is in custody. Prominent Kremlin critic and nerve-agent survivor Alexei Navalny was detained by security officers upon landing in Moscow on charges he and his supporters insist are fabricated.

The US revoked licenses to sell to Huawei. In the last days of its term, the Donald Trump administration heightened its efforts to weaken the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer by cutting off Huawei’s suppliers, including Intel.

Brazil can start getting vaccinated. The country’s regulatory agency issued emergency approvals of the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines as Covid-19 cases continue to soar.

Producer and murderer Phil Spector died. The musical legend was responsible for both the production style of 1960s rock and the violent 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson. Spector died of natural causes at age 81.

What to watch for

Martin Luther King Jr. Day’s namesake would have been 92 years old for today’s celebration of his accomplishments in the US. While his words and actions have provided both a blueprint for like-minded activists and a weapon to those who seek to slow the arc of the moral universe towards justice, King’s famous dream has been left largely deferred. Three years after his speech at the Capitol in 1963, King saw his dream stalling in real time, and knew the only thing that would truly make a difference would never come: billions from the US government.

“I think the biggest problem now is we got our gains over the last 12 years at bargain rates,” King told NBC’s Sander Vanocur in 1967. “Now, we’re confronting issues that cannot be solved without costing the nation billions of dollars… this is where we’re getting our greatest resistance.” King, who contended that lunch counter and bus boycotts actually came to eventually help the economy, had also grown his dream since 1964. By the time of his interview with Ranocur, King had alienated many of his followers with his hardline anti-Vietnam stance and his increasing focus on guaranteed income and healthcare discrimination, controversial ideas by even today’s standards.

With his position atop the Civil Rights Movement in flux, King turned his focus to the alleviation of economic issues that, while beneficial to the nation in the long run, would have required sizable budgetary commitments from a government that had put King’s issues on its back burner to focus on war. Nearly 55 years later, inequality has grown, racial animus continues, and our military complex, which King warned would neuter our “social perspective,” dwarfs the defense expenditures of China, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, India, Russia, the UK, South Korea, Brazil, and Japan, combined.

Today, as it was in King’s day, the potential costs of solving the problems at the heart of tragedies like the murders of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd, military bloat, and the negligent care given to Black expectant mothers continue to rise.

Charting a transition

The New York Police Department receives the second largest amount of funding within the city’s budget, even with a large cut following the protests in response to the killing of George Floyd last year.

A chart showing the New York Police Department receiving the second largest amount of funding within the city budget in 2021

For years, the department also supervised street vending, including fines, tickets, and arrests. That ended on Friday after officially shifting the responsibility to the City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, giving many of New York’s most vulnerable business operators a reprieve from reports of harassment and intimidation while dealing with reduced business due to the pandemic.

The business of mindfulness

The pandemic and its economic fallout have introduced a new kind of turbulence to the lives of people around the world. So it’s no wonder legions of people are flocking to meditation apps as a way to cope with anxiety and stress. Collectively, monthly active users for the top three meditation apps globally (Calm, Headspace, and Meditopia) were up 59% year-over-year this November.

There’s a lot of money to be made in the mindfulness business these days. But is it able to make people—even the world—better? We explore the business of mindfulness and its proliferations, from workplaces to our cars, in our latest field guide.

✦ Once you’ve cleared your head, fill it with all sorts of interesting things. Try a Quartz membership free for seven days.

Surprising discoveries

Bumble users were turning Capitol rioters over to the FBI. Then Bumble intervened.

The mysterious case of the Wayland potatoes. A Massachusetts library can’t explain the “lovely baked russets” that keep popping up on the lawn. 

Divorce is an expensive Valentine’s Day gift. One Tennessee attorney is offering a free trip to Splitsville on Feb. 14.

An Indian news anchor got phished out of a job. Nidhi Razdan says she was targeted in an elaborate phishing scam which led her to quit her role for a promised position at Harvard.

Pizza rolls are better, anyway. Nestle recalled more than 380 tons of Hot Pockets due to possible contamination “with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of glass and hard plastic.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, baked potatoes, and Hot Pockets without extraneous materials, please, to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Karen Ho, Susan Howson, Jackie Bischof, and Jordan Lebeau.

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