🌍 Australia will see you now

🌍 Australia will see you now

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Here’s what you need to know

Putin recognized Ukraine breakaway regions. The Russian president said Donetsk and Luhansk are independent, a possible pretext for invasion, as Ukraine called for United Nations intervention.

Australia reopened its borders. More than 50 international flights touched down in the country on Monday, its first after nearly two years of pandemic closures.

Hong Kong’s vax passports are kicking in. As covid cases surge, only those with at least the first dose of a vaccine will be able to enter eateries, malls, supermarkets, and wet markets.

India might get more wind farms. German energy giant RWE and India’s Tata Power announced plans for what could become the country’s first operational offshore wind projects.

Virgin Galactic reports earnings. The company will share fourth-quarter results a week after opening up spaceflight ticket sales and announcing the resignation of chairman Chamath Palihapitiya.

EVs are fueling a cargo ship fire. Electric vehicles’ lithium-ion batteries are complicating a multi-day blaze on the Felicity Ace, still adrift at sea with its load of luxury cars.

What to watch for

Dwayne Bravo of the Mumbai Indians collides with Brett Lee of the Kings Punjab during the 2009 Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament.

“Cricket is the second biggest sport in the world, with 2.5 billion fans, and the Indian Premier League is like its Super Bowl. If you’re not there, you do not exist.” —Anton Rublievskyi, head of Parimatch, a betting company and IPL advertiser 

For years, India’s Reliance Industries and Amazon have been in a pitched battle over who will dominate the country’s retail landscape. Now that rivalry is headed to the cricket pitch, as both companies are expected to vie for exclusive TV and streaming rights to the coveted Indian Premier League: Amazon to boost Prime Video viewership, and Reliance to further its Viacom-assisted push into sports.

In 2018, Sony and Disney-owned Star India paid $2.6 billion for five-year IPL rights, and made bank selling ads. This time around, the deal’s price tag could approach $7 billion.

The gloves are off

Early-pandemic tales of cutthroat procurement of medical supplies are mostly behind us: Since covid started, the price tag on syringes is unchanged, and prices for both N95 and disposable masks are down. But medical gloves are a different story.

  • Between 2019 and 2021, the annual average price of medical gloves imported into the US soared from 56 cents for a dozen pairs to $1.77.
  • Most of the world’s rubber gloves come from southeast Asia, where a US ban on imports from Malaysia-based Top Glove exacerbated supply problems.
  • The price increase, plus skyrocketing demand, pushed the value of US rubber glove imports to a whopping $7 billion in 2021, from $2.3 billion a year earlier.
The value of US rubber glove imports to the US hit $7 billion in 2021, from $2.3 billion a year earlier.

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Surprising discoveries

A rat infestation took down 400 Family Dollars. The discount chain temporarily closed stores in six US states after finding 1,100 rodents at an Arkansas distribution center.

Space has its first soda flavor. Coca-Cola Starlight promises “notes reminiscent of stargazing” and “a cooling sensation that evokes the feeling of a cold journey to space.” Sure.

The FBI just launched a crypto crimes unit. The Virtual Asset Exploitation Team (VAXU) will focus on ransomware and technologies that enable the misuse of cryptocurrency.

There’s a new way to embarrass yourself at the “office.” Quartz at Work’s Lila MacLellan tested out a workplace in the metaverse—and accidentally fell into a virtual pool.

Spotted: this toxic intergalactic thruple. NASA’s Hubble telescope captured a “triple galaxy merger”—three galaxies drawing each other closer and tearing each other apart with competing gravitational forces.

NASA’s Hubble telescope captured a triple galaxy merger—three galaxies drawing each other closer and tearing each other apart with competing gravitational forces.
Image: NASA

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, medical gloves, and embarrassing metaverse workplace stories 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 Kira Bindrim.