Google fires AI pioneer, TikTok’s grip on music, a royal dog

FILE PHOTO: People rally in a protest against the military coup and to demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon,…
FILE PHOTO: People rally in a protest against the military coup and to demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon,…
Image: REUTERS/Stringer/

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Here’s what you need to know

Myanmar’s protests withstood military violence. A day after junta forces killed two protestors, dissenters were out marching in full force.

Airplane debris fell over Denver. A United Airlines flight suffered engine failure and broke apart, though no injuries have been reported.

The US deported a 95 year-old Nazi. Friedrich Karl Berger, who was found to have willingly served as a concentration camp guard, was sent to Germany.

Google fired an ethical AI pioneer. Margaret Mitchell’s departure follows the firing of Timnit Gebru. Both advocated for greater diversity and questioned Google’s censorship policies.

Bitcoin reached a (new) new high. With its 20% gain last week Bitcoin has soared nearly 100% this year.

The UK set a vaccination goal. Every adult will be offered a first vaccine dose by the end of July. Meanwhile, Israel secured $1.2 million worth of Russian vaccine doses for Syria as part of a deal for the safe return of an Israeli woman held in Damascus.

Two Proud Boys were charged over the US Capitol riot. White supremacist group members Ethan Nordean and Dominic Pezzola were charged with destroying government property.

What to watch for

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.
Merrick Garland with former US president Barack Obama, in 2016.
Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Finally, Merrick Garland gets his confirmation hearing.

To many liberal Americans, Garland came to symbolize Republican obstructionism and hypocrisy after they wouldn’t allow his Supreme Court confirmation to proceed in 2016 on the grounds that the next president—though the election was eight months away—should get to fill the vacancy. Notably, last year former president Donald Trump added a third judge, Amy Barrett, to the court eight days before the presidential election.

Today Garland faces the Senate Judiciary Committee as president Joe Biden’s pick to lead the justice department at a time when domestic extremism is under a spotlight in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

That makes his most relevant experience not his protracted non-confirmation five years ago, but his past experience prosecuting domestic terrorism cases. During a previous stint at the department in the 1990s, he helped prosecute the 1995 Oklahom City bombing, the deadliest domestic terror attack ever in the US, a task he has described as “the central thing, the most significant thing I worked on.”

Charting Chile’s Covid vaccinations

If you look at vaccine rollout data focused on Latin America, Chile jumps out. With 12% of its population vaccinated, it lags just behind the US, and is well ahead of the rest of its region.

A chart shows Chile's vaccination rate shooting up to 12 doses per 100 people over the course of the first half of February, while the rest of Latin America remains relatively stagnant.
One of these countries is not like the others.

Its population is relatively tiny compared to the US or China and its long, narrow landmass makes it more amenable to nationwide rollouts than massive Brazil. Still, by negotiating a favorable vaccine price with manufacturers, buying early and often, and maintaining a robust healthcare system, Chile has set itself up for a successful fight against Covid.

New York’s theater “tour” begins

Last October, Nathan Apocada, known on social media as doggface208, posted himself skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” while sipping cranberry juice. By the end of the first day, it had been viewed a million times. Within two weeks, his original video and the nearly 135,000 homages and reactions that other TikTokers had uploaded had reached a total 494 million views.

For a music industry smarting from the pain of canceled festivals, silent clubs, and canceled recording sessions, this was yet more evidence of the growing impact of TikTok on the music industry.

Three years after its stateside debut, the Chinese-owned app could have been relegated to Gen Z teens who embraced the dance fads and quirky memes that quickly dominated the platform. Instead, TikTok is now considered by many to be a major player in music, with the power to reinvent the path to stardom and upset the long-held power imbalance between artists and executives.

But beneath the beats, TikTok has a complex financial structure and formula for popularity that artists and industry insiders struggle to navigate—and that’s just how the app likes it.

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Surprising discoveries

Want to know how TIkTok changed music? You can certainly read our field guide to find out. But, if you’d rather jam, here’s our playlist.

Scientists cloned an endangered species. Elizabeth Ann is a ferret cloned from decades-old DNA.

A Royally Good Boy. Max the therapy dog is the first pet unaffiliated with law enforcement to receive the “animal OBE.”

A new world record. Jasmine Harrison is the youngest woman to row across the Atlantic.

Why do stars go nova? Thanks to infrared light, scientists now believe they know the answer.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Bitcoin earnings, and songs you first heard on TikTok 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 Stacey Anderson, Ann Quito, Oliver Staley, and Jordan Lebeau.