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Peng Shuai said assault allegations were a misunderstanding

The Chinese star dismissed concerns in a highly controlled media interview.

Peng Shuai practicing at the Australian Open in 2019.
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  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

Deputy email editor


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Here’s what you need to know

Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin met in Moscow to discuss Ukraine. The president of France is also meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart in an effort to defuse growing tension between Russia and the West.

Peng Shuai said her sexual assault allegations were a “huge misunderstanding.” The Chinese tennis star made the comment during a highly controlled media interview. Separately, a meeting between Peng and Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, wasn’t covered by Chinese media.

Amazon raised employee pay. The retail giant will more than double its maximum base salary from $160,000 to $350,000, citing a competitive labor market.

Australia will open its borders to vaccinated travelers. The country has largely been closed to tourists for the past two years. Meanwhile, China locked down Baise, a city of 3.6 million, because of covid infections.

KPMG Canada added bitcoin and ethereum to its balance sheet. The investment marks mainstream firms’ increased interest in cryptocurrency.

The Indian Supreme Court will hear Amazon’s petition against the Reliance-Future deal today. The US retail giant is getting another shot at stopping Reliance Industries from scooping up Future Group.

What to watch for

The nominations for the Academy Awards’ 94th Oscars will be announced on Tuesday, and will most likely include some predictable favorites along with some major surprises. One of the most impactful decisions will be whether the Academy will recognize superhero movies, specifically, Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has been angling for an inclusion in the best picture group. The film is on track to take the place of James Cameron’s Avatar as the third highest grossing domestic film behind Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. 

Although venerated directors like Martin Scorsese and Jane Campion are vocal skeptics, superhero blockbusters are becoming increasingly difficult for the Academy to ignore. An Oscar win in March could tear down the velvet rope keeping them from the cinema VIP club.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

A table showing the Wall Street Journal's 2021 airline scorecard, with Frontier and Spirit among the lowest consistently in each category, including on-time arrivals, canceled flights, extreme delays, and complaints.

Two of the worst airlines in the US are merging to create the country’s “most competitive ultra-low fare airline.” Frontier has agreed to buy Spirit for $2.9 billion, in a deal valued at more than $6 billion. The two airlines currently offer some of the cheapest fares in the business, and the merger makes clear they’re trying to establish themselves as a more formidable competitor against airlines that have started to offer similar economy pricing in recent years.

One giant ultra-low fare airline may be an exciting prospect, but high fees currently make the two airlines among the least cost-effective options, according to a Feb. 3 NerdWallet analysis.

The robots are coming

Humanoid Robot Pepper is unveiled at the World of Me: Store of the near future installation in London
Image copyright: Reuters/Hannah McKay

Autonomous robots have long been part of an aspirational future, but companies with real world technologies are proving how recent advances in AI are leading to the emergence of a new class of robot.

Think beyond helpful bots running preprogrammed motions; these are robots that can see, learn, think, and react to their surroundings. While we may not always be able to see these robots, we’ll rely on them constantly. Here’s how they’ll make our world a better place.

🔮Our Next 10 Years series explores how industries marked by rapid change are adapting and evolving.

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Surprising discoveries

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Some microbes have learned to eat plastic. It could be a win for our massive waste problem.

The Pacific Island of Palau got its first digital residents. Their welcome email had some serious Matt-Damon-in-that-crypto-commercial vibes.

The puffer coat hit a milestone in 1973. What happens when Norma Kamali and a sleeping bag meet? Find out in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

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