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Here’s what you need to know
Vaccines passed a key global milestone. For the first time since its introduction to the world, Covid-19 vaccinations outnumber total confirmed cases worldwide.
Aung San Suu Kyi was charged. Myanmar’s military claims she illegally imported walkie talkies, a far cry from initial accusations of rampant election fraud.
France sent itself a message. A court in Paris charged the French state with inaction in the face of the climate crisis.
Andy Jassy made a statement. Days after Google threw in the towel on video games, Amazon’s CEO-to-be says they’re going to keep trying until they’re successful.
Oxford/AstraZeneca’s dual threat. Their vaccine reduces virus transmission while preventing symptomatic infections, according to UK researchers.
China committed to aid developing nations with vaccines. A foreign ministry spokesperson failed to specify which vaccine would be contributed to the World Health Organization’s vaccine coalition.
Canada dubbed the Proud Boys an official terrorist organization. The white supremacist group joins ISIS and al-Qaeda on the country’s list.
Mario started a hard new level. Former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi was asked by Italy’s government to form a unity coalition that can move the country forward.
What to watch for
Will the Bank of England go sub-zero? Investors are anxiously awaiting the UK central bank’s review on whether to push interest rates into negative territory. It’s a controversial step that policy makers in Japan and the EU have taken, but US officials have resisted.
On the one hand, lower interest rates could hopefully make financing even cheaper and drive investors into riskier assets, like stocks, giving companies more capital to grow. That would be helpful as the economy climbs out of a deep, pandemic-induced recession. But it also means savers could see their nest eggs wither, and some say it damages banks by making it harder for them to profit from their loans.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the BoE to go down the middle: when they publish their findings today, officials may add negative rates to their toolkit, but stop short of actually going negative—for now.
Charting the cost of climate procrastination
Since 1988, or even the 1890s, scientists have said (with increasing urgency) that eliminating greenhouse gas emissions will be essential to avoid a warming climate. Until recently, lawmakers responded with the policy equivalent of, “We’ll deal with this later.”
The nonpartisan energy policy firm Energy Innovation group analyzed the cost to the US economy of waiting 10 more years before passing policies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The result: a real bummer of a chart.
Silicon Valley’s weakening grip on venture capital
The shift to smaller tech hubs has been going on for years, but the pandemic gave it a push. While Silicon Valley isn’t dead yet, the data shows it is beginning to give up ground to smaller startup hubs across the country.
The immediate culprit is the pandemic, which has triggered a geographical shift for investors and tech workers from the Bay Area to cheaper climes. Startups and venture capitalists have demonstrated that they can still cut deals despite lack of physical proximity, removing one of the rationales for piling into the region’s overpriced real estate in the first place. Nicolás Rivero shows how Silicon Valley is losing its place at the table.
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Scotland names its snowplows the best names. You can track the gritters, including “I Want to Break Freeze” and “Veruca Salt,” in real time.
Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Pandemic lockdowns kept us off of the roads, cleared the skies, and….warmed the planet.
Denmark has new passports. Digital passports to help travelers prove vaccination status should be ready by spring.
Snakes make some lizards heat up. The presence of predators also results in longer legs that make it easier to get the heck out of a snake’s way.
If you’re Hafium Bohrium problems, we feel bad for you, son. We’ve got 99 elements, and einsteinium is one, thanks to its recent discovery.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ice puns, and terrified reptiles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Jordan Lebeau, Nicolás Rivero, Michael Coren, John Detrixhe, and Susan Howson.