Tesla drops bitcoin, shaky Olympics, brain implants

The remains of a tower in Gaza.

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Here’s what you need to know

Tesla is no longer accepting or selling bitcoin. Elon Musk cited the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels” for mining and transactions, and the cryptocurrency plunged.

The conflict in Israel and Palestinian territories is spiraling. Airstrikes and rocket attacks continue, while mobs attack people and property in several cities.

More than 4,000 Indians died of Covid-19 for the second day in a row. These record-breaking numbers are likely to be vast underestimates.

The EPA partly blamed climate change on humans. It’s the first time the US Environmental Protection Agency has publicly said so, in a report that was suppressed by the Trump administration since 2017.

The Tokyo Olympics are looking shakier. Organizers said the Games are still going ahead, but dozens of Japanese towns abandoned plans to accommodate overseas athletes.

US inflation data spooked investors. The Dow had its worst day since January, with other major stock indices also down, after higher-than-expected inflation in April sparked fears about an interest rate hike.

What to watch for

Alibaba reports earnings today for the quarter and fiscal year ended in March. While the e-commerce giant is expected to deliver strong results as consumers recover from the pandemic, investors will be watching closely for clues on several issues:

🐜  Ant Group: Alibaba owns one-third of the fintech giant, whose IPO was suspended by Beijing in November days before its market debut. Ant has since been ordered to revamp its business to focus on its original payment roots. As part of its earnings, Alibaba will report Ant’s contribution to its overall profit in the quarter ended in December, from which Ant’s profit for the period can be calculated. (Ant’s earnings reports lag one quarter behind Alibaba’s.)

👨‍⚖️  Regulatory risks: Similar to Ant, Alibaba has been at the center of Beijing’s antitrust storm towards big tech. Last month, Alibaba was fined $2.8 billion for its monopolistic practices, including its “pick one from two” strategy. Alibaba’s executives could offer more color on whether there will be more regulatory scrutiny from authorities.

📺  Alibaba’s media empire. Beijing reportedly told Alibaba to offload some of its most prominent media assets, including the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, over concerns about the firm’s expanding influence on public opinion. The company hasn’t yet announced the sale of stakes in those entities.

Charting used car prices in the US

Americans are starting to travel again as pandemic restrictions ease, and the extra demand for cars comes at a time when supply is tight. Many manufacturing plants shut down early on in the pandemic as governments struggled to contain the virus, and although car makers have been reopening their assembly lines since then, they face a variety of supply chain constraints.

A key snag has been the ongoing shortage of computer chips, which is creating delays and prompting another round of plant closures. With fewer new cars in the market, US consumers have been turning to used-car lots, driving those prices higher.

A line chart showing US used car prices since January 2020, with a big spike starting March 2021.

Leadership lessons don’t always come easy

And if, for whatever reason, one day I wasn’t dancing when I’m in the dry cleaners or I didn’t smile at somebody, it’s like, “Oh, did that affect somebody? Was that what they meant?” And I don’t know but I know that I’m just a person with a lot of different emotions and I struggle with depression and with anxiety.

Ellen DeGeneres is ending her daytime talk show in 2022 after a 19-year run that included a lot of dancing at first and later was mired in controversy. She says she’s learned at least one important lesson as a result of recent criticisms—our behavior can have a big impact on others.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but power tends to make people’s empathy decrease as their influence increases. Sarah Todd takes a look at what we can all learn from Ellen’s experience.

✦ Sarah has a knack for seeing opportunities for improvement within the workplace—she’s even found a better word for “team.” Read more of her findings at Quartz At Work. Tired of paywalls? Try a membership free for a week!

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Surprising discoveries

Brain implants allowed a paralyzed man to text his thoughts. A new technique taps into the cognitive signals associated with handwriting.

A rare calico-colored lobster was saved from the dinner pot. The 1-in-30 million crustacean is now headed to an aquarium.

An Australian woman started speaking with an Irish accent after having her tonsils removed. She has never been to Ireland.

Playing with a therapy dog keeps stress levels low for weeks. Turns out the benefits of belly rubs last longer than previously thought.

Voyager has been recording plasma waves in interstellar space. NASA’s longest-running mission is still making new discoveries.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, therapy dogs, and plasma waves 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 Hasit Shah, Leslie Nguyen-Okwu, Mary Hui, Tripti Lahiri, Jane Li, Ana Campoy, Sarah Todd, Liz Webber, and Susan Howson.