“Comfort women” case, climate summit, king of absentees

A man receives Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine.
A man receives Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine.
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

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Here’s what you need to know

South Korea dismissed a case about “comfort women.” A Seoul court ruled Japan couldn’t be forced to compensate women coerced into sexual slavery during World War II.

Russian hackers claimed they stole Apple’s latest product blueprints. A group said it had demanded $50 million from Taiwan-based supplier Quanta to return the data.

China said 14% of its population has been vaccinated. Around 200 million people have been inoculated. The government plans to vaccinate 40% of the country by mid-June.

Covaxin showed 78% efficacy in phase 3 trials. Bharat Biotech also said its jab was 100% effective against severe Covid-19 cases. Meanwhile, 22 died in a hospital in Maharashtra after the oxygen supply was disrupted—and many Indians can’t even get hospital treatment.

Australia revoked Victoria state’s Belt and Road agreement. The foreign minister said the deal with China, as well as prior agreements with Iran and Syria, were “inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.”

The US sanctioned two more state-owned businesses in Myanmar. The Treasury Department said Myanmar Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise helped finance the country’s military.

US senators proposed a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Olympics. An amendment to a broader bill on competition with China would bar funding for an official American delegation at the 2022 games.

What to watch for

The US is giving the world an Earth Day present: a new carbon emissions reduction pledge, promising a 50% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030. If the target is met, it would go a long way toward putting the global economy on track to net zero by 2050, the long-term goal needed to avert catastrophic climate change.

The pledge was announced in conjunction with a virtual global climate summit the Biden administration is hosting today and tomorrow, to which 40 heads of state have been invited. The overarching goal of the summit is to elicit more ambitious carbon pledges from participating countries ahead of the five-year anniversary of the Paris climate agreement in December.

Other news to watch from the summit: Will the US take responsibility for its historic carbon footprint by committing billions more dollars for climate adaptation in developing countries? And, will the US and China, the world’s top emitters, announce any more details on how they plan to compete—or not—on the clean energy industry?

Ultimately, the summit itself is political pageantry. The real test is whether Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure spending package and other policies under consideration can dramatically accelerate the pace of the US energy transition, which is currently moving too slow to meet the 2030 pledge. Otherwise, says Victoria Cuming, head of global policy for BloombergNEF, the US “risks damaging its climate credibility even further—by announcing a target and missing it.”

What do rich nations owe the rest of the world on climate change? Tune into Clubhouse today at 10am US Eastern time to talk about it. The discussion will feature Quartz reporters Tim McDonnell and Michael Coren, along with panelists Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò (assistant professor of philosophy, Georgetown University) and Charlotte Streck (co-founder and director, Climate Focus).

Charting police killings

The US has the highest rate of police killings among most wealthy countries, according to a report from the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), a criminal justice think tank. The report found that the US has at least three times the number of police killings compared to peer countries.

A chart showing wealthy countries rate of police killings, with the US in the lead by far.

The stark contrast in the number of killings mirrors the difference in how the US handles policing.

The psychological toll of boarding up our cities

“Blank edges are like broken teeth.” —Charles Montgomery, founding principal of Happy City

Restaurants, bars, and shops across the US once again boarded up their windows and doors, bracing for mass upheavals following the trial of Derek Chauvin. As the former Minneapolis police officer was convicted on all charges for the murder of George Floyd on Tuesday, many establishments kept their plywood shields in place, anticipating street celebrations and demonstrations this week.

More than a nuisance, seeing storefronts poised for violence has a profound effect on our mental health and social relations. Anne Quito explores how the trauma of blank facades affects those who live in cities.

✦ Anne’s obsessed with design and its impact. Start with her story from last week about the deadly perils of taser design. You’ll run into paywalls eventually, but we’ve designed a way for you to try a Quartz membership for free!

Handpicked Quartz

📷  Sorrow, joy, and relief: Photographs of Americans reacting to the Chauvin verdict

🗣  How America’s CEOs responded

👂  The vital importance of talking about the Chauvin verdict at work

🤝  Climate change is a rare opportunity for the US and China to actually get along

💈  Why in the world is Amazon opening a hair salon?

🚪  India is feeling all the pain—and none of the gain—of an undeclared lockdown

😰  Anxious about getting back to the grind?

Surprising discoveries

Amazon wants you to pay with your palm. It’s hoping to sell the tech it’s currently testing at some Whole Foods grocery stores to other retailers.

An Italian hospital employee skipped work for 15 years. He’s at least legitimately earned one thing—a “king of absentees” nickname.

An intra-Italy feud is brewing over espresso. A northern city applied to Unesco for world heritage status for the country’s coffee culture, but Naples believes the honor belongs to it alone.

A lost surfboard reappeared… The barnacle-encrusted board traveled 2,700 km (1,670 miles) over four years.

…as did a treasured flute. The $13,000 instrument, which was left in a taxi in 2012, turned up when the cab driver recently tried to sell it.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, opinions on who makes the best coffee, and long-lost personal items to hi@qz.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 Tim McDonnell, Michelle Cheng, Anne Quito, Liz Webber, and Susan Howson.