🌍 Putin’s Mariupol ultimatum

Mariupol, Ukraine

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Here’s what you need to know

Putin won’t stop bombing Mariupol until the city surrenders. But the Russian president might be misinformed about the situation in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Georgian region of South Ossetia wants to join Russia.

America will tap its strategic stash of oil. Joe Biden is expected to release a million barrels of oil daily from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, to combat rising energy prices.

Russia won’t change its gas prices, but it will demand payment in rubles. It’s a strategy to minimize the impact of sanctions. European countries have rejected the idea, and Germany and Austria started taking steps towards gas rationing.

Meta paid a Republican consulting firm to convince the US that TikTok is dangerous for children. The campaign spread misinformation about the origin and effect of some social media trends.

The US chief strategist for sanctions against Russia is visiting India. His meetings come a day ahead of Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s trip to Delhi, during which Lavrov is expected to broach the topic of selling India discounted oil.

Google’s sister company Waymo is putting driverless cars in San Francisco. The rides are free, but only available to Waymo’s employees.

What to watch for

Today is the deadline for Northern Ireland’s government to provide abortion services. Abortion became legal in the country in October 2019, and the UK mandated that Northern Ireland’s Department of Health fully commission abortion services by Mar. 31, 2022.

The region will miss the deadline, leaving the provision of the service to the occasional initiative of individual doctors, and forcing many of those seeking abortions to obtain it outside the country. But the UK government is stepping in, planning to use its full power to override local authorities and speeding up the process of setting up abortion services. At a time when anti-abortion measures are cropping up elsewhere, too—notably the US—the Northern Ireland case shows how fragile reproductive care can be, when even an abortion-permitting legal framework fails to actually permit abortion.

Why do the splits?

Earlier this week, Tesla announced that it will split its stock for the second time in two years, following similar plans by Amazon and Alphabet. The move will lower share price—or appear to, anyway. In reality, the stock will be split up into smaller shares, making it easier to invest.

This is a marketing move, designed to make a company’s stock more enticing to retail investors who feel uneasy about buying fractions of a share of stock—and research shows it actually works. Tesla should know; the automaker has done it once before, a 5-for-1 split in August 2020 that doubled ​​net stock purchases within weeks. It’s already a darling with retail investors, who own 39% of the company, much more than they do Meta or Alphabet (though nowhere near as much as GameStop, of course).

A table showing the most mentioned company names on the subreddit WallStreetBets, with GameStop far exceeding every other company (Tesla is number 3).

The future of nukes

A map showing the estimate nuclear arms by country as of 2021. The US has 5,550 and Russia has 6,257.

Not since the 1980s has the specter of nuclear war been so real in popular consciousness, but the world today is not the same as it was during the Cold War. Learn more about the future of the weapon that exists to not be used. ✦ Support Quartz’s journalism—and get The Forecast in your inbox!—by becoming a member.

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🍆  Vasectomy rates suggest it’s not likely that men would take a birth control pill

🎼  Can the Grammys replicate the Oscars’ recovery from falling viewership?

Surprising discoveries

Putin may be cracking—it’s in his voice. Analysis of voice samples from the Russian leader’s speeches in the past two months suggest his confident exterior might be hiding growing stress.

Chile is the hottest new destination for Indian startup founders. Tech expertise, government support, and market size are attracting investors.

Bad at directions? Blame the matrix. New research shows growing up in grid-shaped cities can affect navigation abilities later in life.

Pigs have a lot to say, and we might be close to understanding it. Researchers were able to classify domestic pig calls from birth to slaughter based on their emotional value.

Solar and wind energy powered 10% of global electricity in 2021. This is a new milestone in the use of renewable sources, but coal use rose too.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, tickets to Chile, and best words to say in Pig Latin 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 Scott Nover, Annalisa Merelli, Samanth Subramanian, and Susan Howson.