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China discovered a new omicron subvariant

China found a new omicron subvariant as the country faces surging covid infections

People in protective suits hold signs in Shanghai.
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  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

Deputy email editor

Published

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Here’s what you need to know

China discovered a new omicron subvariant. As China grapples with its biggest wave of covid infections since the start of the pandemic, Shanghai extended its city-wide lockdown indefinitely.

Hong Kong’s chief executive won’t seek a second term. A replacement for Carrie Lam, who took office with Beijing’s backing and oversaw the erosion of Hong Kong’s independence and civil liberties, will be chosen next month.

US president Joe Biden called for war crime trials in Ukraine. The EU threatened to ramp up sanctions over Russia’s reported atrocities, but Russian gas continues to flow into Europe.

A UN climate report called for quick fossil fuel cuts. Although climate scientists say the world needs to reduce oil and gas production, the war in Ukraine has prompted governments to do the opposite.

India’s biggest merger will create a financial services giant. HDFC Bank, the country’s largest private lender, will combine with the housing lender HDFC in a $40 billion deal.

Elon Musk bought a 9% stake in Twitter. The extremely online CEO, whose erratic, market-moving tweets have prompted investigations by financial regulators, is now Twitter’s biggest shareholder.

Jamie Dimon warned of big risks for the US economy. In his annual shareholder letter, the  JPMorgan Chase CEO also said war in Ukraine could cost his firm $1 billion and lamented the decline of publicly-traded companies.

What to watch for

A person holds a battery over an electric scooter. There is a wall of green-handled batteries behind them.
Image copyright: Reuters/Tyrone Siu
Scoot over

Gogoro, the Taiwanese “Tesla of scooters,” begins trading on the Nasdaq today. The company operates its own fleet of electric scooters in Taiwan, but it also sells batteries and charging systems to other rideshare networks. Gogoro’s stock listing comes just months after the company inked deals to sell its batteries to big scooter manufacturers in China and India.

Gogoro went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which valued the scooter manufacturer at $2.35 billion and raised $335 million to fund its expansion. Its initial investors include GoTo Group, Indonesia’s biggest tech company, which may partner with Gogoro to help it expand in southeast Asia.

Are sanctions not working?

Barely a month after the West imposed heavy sanctions on Russia, the ruble has bounded back up against the US dollar, to levels last seen before the invasion of Ukraine. Why isn’t the ruble feeling the pain?

A line graph show the Russian ruble to the US dollar. It was about $0.014 before Russia invaded Ukraine, then it dipped to $0.007 in early March, and increased to $0.012 in April.

Internal manipulation of the currency and soaring oil and gas prices are driving its rise. Increased pressure to buy Russian gas in rubles could boost it even more, if big European buyers actually bent to those demands. Ultimately, though, the ruble isn’t the best indicator of sanctions’ success. “Irrespective of the moves in the ruble, the sanctions are hurting Russia’s economy hard,” economist William Jackson said. “Inflation is already surging, the banks are under strain, and financial conditions have tightened dramatically.”

Reigning in big tech

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Surprising discoveries

The UK has its first World Surfing Reserve. The beaches of North Devon join a list of internationally protected surf spots that includes Malibu, California, and Australia’s Gold Coast.

Bad supply chain news for birds. Chipotle is delaying plans to buy humanely raised chickens because of logistical challenges.

Cartier is selling squishy, diamond-encrusted watches. Dubbed the “cushion” collection, the timepieces are encased in a flexible mesh of white gold studded with gems.

NASA’s Perseverance rover sent back eerie recordings from Mars. There are two different speeds of sound for high-pitched and low-pitched notes on the red planet.

Google hopes electric scooters can entice workers back to the office. The company offered employees a free scooter subscription to commute to work three days a week.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, squishy watches, and alien musings 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 Nicolás Rivero, Samanth Subramanian, and Morgan Haefner.

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