Good morning, Quartz readers!
Here’s what you need to know
Joe Biden sets out his $2 trillion infrastructure plan. According to the New York Times, the US president intends to fund the huge expenditure with higher corporate taxes—he makes a speech in Pittsburgh today.
Major economic powers demand a new Covid-19 origins investigation. The World Health Organization released its findings yesterday, amid accusations that China withheld data.
There’s more fallout from the Archegos disaster. US senator Elizabeth Warren called for better banking oversight, while Credit Suisse shareholders are preparing for a multibillion-dollar hit.
Deliveroo’s IPO is tanking. The Amazon-backed food delivery company listed in London this morning, with shares dropping 30% below the issue price.
Brazil is in political crisis. The heads of the armed forces quit, a day after defense and foreign ministers also stepped down over president Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.
Germany restricted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Similar to Canada, there are concerns over blood clot reports for people under 60.
The UK releases a major report on race. Commissioned in the wake of antiracism protests last year, it finds that social class and family structure have a greater bearing on people’s lives than racial background.
What to watch for
H&M reported a quarterly loss today, and while its results don’t reflect recent criticism in China over a past statement on allegedly forced Uyghur labor, the company was careful not mention Xinjiang in a statement on Xinjiang cotton. LINK
Several international companies are contending with the Beijing-driven backlash, but H&M has received the worst of it from multiple fronts.
📱 Social media users: It all began with a Communist Youth League division post on Weibo.
🏬 E-commerce sites: H&M’s official store on Alibaba’s Tmall was taken down, and its products no longer appeared in searches of large Chinese e-commerce sites such as JD.com and Pinduoduo.
📺 State media: Broadcaster CCTV accused the retailer of “eating China’s rice while smashing its pot.”
🤩 Celebrities: Huang Xuan and Victoria Song both announced they would not work with H&M.
🚪 Landlords: Property owners shut down at least six H&M stores.
The head of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China advised H&M to lay low in the country until the furor dies down.
Mapping mobile money in Africa
Africa is the global leader in mobile money providers, especially since the pandemic, which prompted people to turn to digital services over cash. In 2020, mobile transaction values around the world increased around 22%, with Africa accounting for 64.5% of the overall value. (The figures exclude services linked to formal bank accounts.)
The global increase was in part a result of changes in consumer behavior, with more people open to digital transactions, but also more flexible processes by regulators. The fastest growth happened in countries where governments provided the most pandemic relief.
The philosophy of resistance
Journalist-turned-politician Gwyneth Ho shot to fame as both chronicler and victim of the Hong Kong protests’ darkest moment: a mob attack in July 2019 when armed thugs assaulted protesters and commuters. She was livestreaming the incident when she was attacked herself.
The 30-year-old is now in jail, charged alongside nearly 50 other activists with subversion. Ho had given up journalism to run for political office, which she believed would let her more directly influence Hong Kong’s democracy movement. But the government says the activists’ attempts to win seats threatened national security, and they now risk life imprisonment.
Like many political prisoners before her, she sees her time in detention as a political act, an embodiment of resistance. From prison, she writes that she’s been shaped by everyone in the movement—and hopes her actions will ripple onwards to influence others. That’s her unifying philosophy of resistance against a regime that seeks to atomize society.
✦ Mary Hui has covered the past, present, and future of Hong Kong protests. If paywalls are keeping you from following the whole journey, try a Quartz membership for free.
🚀 Every company is a space company now
📈 Cathie Wood mentor Arthur Laffer says the ARK CEO’s horizon has always been “forever”
📖 George R.R. Martin’s new contract is bad news for Game of Thrones readers
🩺 India is challenging China’s dominance in Africa through healthcare diplomacy
🤑 Should retail traders be able to invest in IPOs like Deliveroo and Robinhood?
⚡️ What’s getting in the way of India’s big green energy dreams?
🍻 Everyone is anxious about vaccine passports, especially British pubs
Humans have the genetic foundation to someday become venomous. At least, according to snake researchers.
US Strategic Command tweeted “;l;;gmlxzssaw.” Its work-from-home Twitter manager blamed a “very young child.”
An Italian mafioso on the lam was done in by a YouTube cooking video. The ‘Ndrangheta member’s face was hidden, but his distinctive tattoos were visible.
Nike is suing MSCHF over its Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes.” But it didn’t have a problem with 2019’s “Jesus Shoes.”
No, Volkswagen isn’t changing its name to Voltswagen. The carmaker now says that was just an early April Fool’s Day joke.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and rogue tweets—but no lame April Fool’s Day stunts—to email@example.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Hasit Shah, Tripti Lahiri, Marc Bain, Mary Hui, Liz Webber, and Susan Howson.