Severe US weather, GameStop hearing, Pokémon jeans

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a company event in India in January 2020.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a company event in India in January 2020.
Image: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US braces for more storms… Another round of snow and sleet is expected to hit the southern US on Wednesday, as people in Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas struggle without power, heat and water. The severe weather has hit vaccine distribution, forcing appointments to be put on hold and delaying shipments to some states.

Amazon worked around laws meant to help India’s small retailers. A lobby for small businesses is saying “told you so” after Reuters published internal company documents showing the extent to which the tech giant’s policies allowed large sellers to dominate.

A US Chamber of Commerce report laid out the consequences of aggravating China. The worst-case scenarios could result in billions of dollars of lost sales and hundreds of thousands of job cuts for US companies.

Facebook “unfriends” Australia. After Facebook blocked all news content and sharing in Australia, following a rift with the government over a proposed new media code, users found they couldn’t even access government pages on weather forecasts, mental health or emergency services.

Metal is booming. Prices of iron ore, copper, nickel and other metals are surging sharply, on the back of a global push towards clean energy infrastructure.

The Perseverance robot is landing. NASA’s Mars rover aims to touch down in the red planet’s Jezero Crater later this afternoon, US time.

What to watch for

The US Congress is holding a hearing to discuss the GameStop saga, in which an army of retail investors conspired on Reddit’s WallStreetBets channel to take on hedge funds that were betting against the video game retailer.

We canvassed experts and armchair traders to come up with key questions for the crew in the hot seats. Read the full list from future of finance reporter John Detrixhe.

🤑  To Robinhood CEO Vladimir Tenev: Why was Robinhood unable to come up with the funds when other brokerages apparently had the cash to allow trading to continue?

😳  To Reddit CEO Steve Huffman: What steps has your site taken to prevent users from taking advantage of it to manipulate stocks and other assets?

🙀  To social-media influencer Steve Gill (a.k.a. “Roaring Kitty”): Did you suspect that retail traders would be able to force a squeeze? Also, what’s your next deep-value trade?

Charting China’s need for Hollywood

China first accepted Hollywood movies into its country to boost its own film ambitions, hoping the rising tide created by the US film industry’s funding and expertise could lift all boats. It worked—China became Hollywood’s second biggest source of revenue.

But some boats are sinking: Even before the pandemic, China’s homegrown film industry was depending less and less on Hollywood to put moviegoers in theater seats. Now it may not need Hollywood at all, Adam Epstein, on the streaming beat, explains.

A chart showing the decreasing share of Chinese box office revenue going to Hollywood.

Watch this!

India’s dating apps are trying to grow by appealing to users’ Indianness. The apps ask questions that would be of particular interest to Indian users, such as about horoscopes or families, and appeal to changing cultural norms by empowering daters to find matches on their own terms.

One app, Aisle, built an ad around the “Indian way of dating” with a nod to a thrifty trick families have long used at restaurants. The ad portrays the “one by two” soup sharing order as one way to warm up a new romance.

India reporter Manavi Kapur explains how these dating apps are helping people couple up in small towns.

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Surprising discoveries

Levi’s made a Pokémon-printed jacket/jeans combo. Celebrate the franchise’s 25th anniversary in style.

Scientists sequenced the oldest DNA ever found. It belongs to a mammoth that’s at least a million years old.

Opera singers are teaching Covid sufferers how to breathe. The exercises are designed to help those with lingering symptoms.

CT scans revealed the cause of death of a 3,600-year-old pharaoh. Seqenenre Tao II was likely killed in an “execution ceremony” after being captured in battle.

Wanted: Astronauts with physical disabilities. The European Space Agency is recruiting candidates to make space more accessible.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mammoth teeth, and deep breathing tips 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 Samanth Subramanian, Tripti Lahiri, Mary Hui, Susan Howson, and Liz Webber.