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US defense secretary Lloyd Austin tested positive for covid. The 68-year-old has mild symptoms and is isolating at home. US health officials are warning of a potential surge in hospitalizations, though data from the UK shows omicron’s hospitalization risk is far lower than delta’s. In India, covid-19 cases are sharply rising, but hospital occupancy remains low.
Indonesia banned coal exports in January. The world’s largest exporter of thermal coal—and the top supplier to China—is worried shortages could lead to widespread blackouts at home.
Evergrande halted trading in Hong Kong. The indebted Chinese real estate developer, which is default on $19 billion of offshore bonds, said an announcement is pending.
Denmark wants fossil-fuel free domestic flights by 2030. The country’s prime minister acknowledged that a lack of sufficient technology will make it a difficult goal to reach.
Sudan’s civilian prime minister resigned. A former UN official, Abdalla Hamdok was reinstated in November after the military staged a coup in October, setting back a slow transition to democracy.
Libor wound down. As of Jan. 1, the London Interbank Offered Rate can’t be used as a reference rate for new derivatives and loans.
Tesla broke sales records in its fourth quarter. The electric car maker, coming off a giant safety recall, said it delivered 308,600 vehicles in the final three months of 2021, with total sales for the year up 87% from 2020.
What to watch for
France began a six-month presidency of the European Union on Jan. 1, the first time in 13 years the country will oversee the council of the bloc. It’s a transition that allows France to have considerable sway over the EU’s agenda until June 30.
Emmanuel Macron has high expectations, saying that “2022 must be the year of a European turning point.” The French president has three priorities for the period:
💵 An EU minimum wage standard.
📱 Tighter regulation of big tech firms.
📦 A carbon tax on European imports.
But any agreements will require compromise from the EU’s 27 members. It’s also an election year for France. Macron has yet to announce his candidacy, but will likely use his time as the bloc’s de facto leader to serve his own expected campaign at home.
A resolutions-themed reading list
The new year is here, along with all the usual questions about finding happiness, setting goals, and staying motivated. There are no easy answers in 2022—or ever, really—but the science and psychology in these articles point the way.
- 5 signs it’s time to quit your job
- How to follow through on goals, according to a pioneer of motivation science
- 4 career questions to ask yourself going into the new year
- The secret to having more meaningful conversations
- A goal with a plan beats a resolution every day of the year
🦅 American Eagle just bought its second supply chain company
💲 Hopes for a West African single currency fade as Ghana and Nigeria launch digital money
⚡️ Where are India’s electric-vehicle charging stations?
💵 Americans will be forced to draw down their savings in 2022
🧪 Antigen or PCR: Which covid test makes more sense in the age of omicron?
📈 Tech stocks powered the S&P 500 index to a monster performance in 2021
Drones are successfully vacuuming up wasps in Japan. In about two hours, 100 wasps and their nest were eliminated.
There’s no good hangover cure. A review of scientific studies found little evidence that any home remedy actually works.
Vladimir Putin beat Alexander Lukashenko in a hockey match. The Russian president scored seven points to the Belarusian’s two after some diplomatic discussions.
A baby seal dodged traffic in an English seatown. The pup, who was spooked by a dog, was rescued and relocated to the beach.
AT&T and Verizon won’t delay their 5G launch. They offered US federal aviation officials a limited deployment instead.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Libor memories, and wasp vacuums 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 Heather Landy, Tripti Lahiri, and Morgan Haefner.