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Beijing is seeing a spike in covid cases right before the Olympics

Beijing’s covid cases are at an 18-month high just days before the Olympics

A person in winter clothes stands in front of a flag of the Olympic rings wearing a mask and face shield.
This story was published on our Quartz Daily Brief newsletter, The concise, conversational rundown you need to start your day.
  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

Deputy email editor


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Here’s what you need to know

NATO said Europe is too dependent on Russia for energy. The warning comes as the US and UK work out sanctions against Russia, which has boosted troop levels on its border with Ukraine, according to the Pentagon.

Beijing’s covid-19 cases hit an 18-month high. The uptick in infections comes days before the Winter Olympics begins, with 34 infections detected among athletes and officials. Follow everything Winter Games with our Need to Know: Beijing Olympics newsletter.

Delhi eased some covid restrictions. A weekend curfew was lifted and restaurants were reopened as cases fall, but a night curfew remains. Separately, scientists are watching a rise in cases related to a variant in the omicron family.

Blackstone has raised $11 billion to buy firms in Asia. The world’s largest asset manager has invested in $20 billion worth of deals on the continent since 2018.

Thousands of people protested covid-19 restrictions in Canada’s capital Ottawa. Some were opposing a new rule that requires truck drivers entering the country to be vaccinated against covid-19.

What to watch for

Launched in Sweden in 2008, Spotify now boasts 381 million users and a market cap of $33 billion. But the audio streaming service hit a road bump last week when veteran rocker Neil Young demanded the service either drop podcaster Joe Rogan, who was aired vaccine misinformation, or he would remove his songs.

Spotify chose Rogan and his 190 million listeners, possibly opening the floodgates for other artists—many of whom are unhappy with Spotify’s royalty payment—to exit.

Here’s a quick recap:

2015: Spotify expands its platform to include podcasts

2020: Rogan signs an exclusive deal with Spotify

Dec. 31: Rogan hosts Robert Malone, a scientist who spreads anti-vaccine conspiracy theories

Jan. 10: 270 medical professionals sign an open letter calling for Spotify to regulate misinformation on its platform

Jan. 24: Young demands Spotify remove Rogan’s podcast or he will exit the platform

Jan. 28: Spotify obliges Young by removing his music

The US economy is beating omicron

Covid controversy may be bringing down Spotify, but the latest wave of the omicron variant hasn’t been a match for the rebounding US economy—at least when compared with the delta variant.

Even though the rapid spread of omicron has led to a record amount of Americans being out sick, there are already signs that the labor market is recovering. One example: Though initial jobless claims climbed along with omicron cases, they are now dropping—much more quickly than after delta’s peak.

A line graph showing the change in US jobless claims during the pandemic's delta and omicron peaks. Jobless claims were above 300,000 at the delta peak, and below 300,000 at the omicron peak.

In four charts, Quartz reporter Nate DiCamillo mapped out how US workers and companies are faring as the omicron wave wanes.

The after (online) life

With so much of our lives happening on the internet, it’s not just the extremely online who need to consider what virtual stuff they leave behind. That’s why more people are making digital wills. But what are they and what should they include? ✦ Try a seven-day free trial of Quartz membership to read how to make one and for access to all of our member-exclusive emails.

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Surprising discoveries

A new insect species was found. Phlogis kibalensis is an incredibly rare metallic leafhopper.

OpenSea has a massive fraud problem. More than 80% of NFTs made with its free minting tool are fake or plagiarized.

Tab superfans want to revive the soft drink. Coca-Cola killed it off in 2020, but the SaveTabSoda Committee won’t back down.

Europe’s energy crisis came for Venetian glassmaking. High natural gas prices are forcing makers of the colorful creations to close.

The slope of Earth’s magnetic field helps birds touchdown. It’s like an invisible stop sign.

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