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Boris Johnson was fined for breaking covid lockdown protocol

The London police fined UK leader Boris Johnson for breaking covid rules.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, February 10, 2021.
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Here’s what you need to know

Boris Johnson was fined. London police disciplined the UK leader for attending parties during coronavirus lockdowns, the first time in modern history a British prime minister was punished for breaking the law.

Lockdowns came for the Chinese economy. China’s first quarter GDP growth was likely slowed by strict covid measures, especially in Shanghai, where the latest restrictions have inspired people elsewhere in the country to start stockpiling food.

Vladimir Putin said Ukraine peace talks reached a “dead end.” In the first update from the negotiations in days, Russia’s leader vowed to continue the assault and denied allegations that his troops committed war crimes in Bucha.

US inflation worsened. Consumer prices, up 8.5% year over year in March, were supercharged by soaring fuel costs(see more below).

Sri Lanka defaulted on $51 billion of foreign debt. Officials said it was a last resort move to avoid further financial deterioration.

A subway shooting in New York City injured at least 16 people. A man in a gas mask set off a canister of smoke and opened fire in a Brooklyn station during the morning commute.

What to watch for

People walk out of a Bed Bath & Beyond amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 27, 2021.
Image copyright: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Bed Bath & Beyond reports its latest earnings today. Wall Street has low expectations. However, if you’re wondering what to expect of the stock in the longer term, you might peruse Reddit rather than the financial press.

The US home goods retailer struggled to capitalize on rising spending on home products during the pandemic. Its perhaps over-decluttered aisles were haunted by supply chain issues, among other problems, as its CEO executed a transformation strategy.

But BBBY is a “resurrected boomer” meme stock. And last month, Ryan Cohen—the activist investor, meme stock king, Chewy co-founder, and GameStop chairman—revealed his more than 10% stake in the company, then successfully negotiated for three board seats for his RC Venture fund. Cohen arrived with a list of renovations to make, including selling off Buy Buy Baby. Looking ahead, the stock’s solid meme stonk status means that virtually anything could happen.

What to do with all that space

a city skyline at dusk with several office skyscrapers with lights on
Image copyright: Reuters/Mario Anzuon/Files
Could LA’s business district become more residential?

More companies are embracing remote or hybrid work and leaving their offices behind. That’s meant cities are seeing some of their highest vacancy rates for downtown offices in 30 years.

What are all those empty spaces being used for? In the US, cities are turning some of them into apartments and living spaces ripe for a BB&B overhaul, while others are becoming warehouses. We polled the Quartz global newsroom, and think these are the most likely alternatives:

  • TV and movie film sets
  • Vertical food courts
  • Trader Joe’s parking spaces
  • Giant escape room complexes and/or laser tag venues
  • Grow houses
  • Museums
  • Cheese caves
  • The metaverse 😜

What do you think? Send your ideas to

Everything you need to know about inflation

“Can you believe how much I just spent on…” is an increasingly normal conversation starter in many parts of the world. We’ve compiled a list to help you understand what’s happening and why.

🤔 The why: Gas prices, not supply chains, are the main culprit in the US’s inflation uptick

🤕 The pain points: Where Americans are seeing the biggest price increases

🧐 The hidden cost: How companies are hiding inflation without charging you more

🥺 The big question: Will high inflation lead to bigger pay increases?

🥱 The other “-ation”: Why economists are talking about stagflation

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🚪 A new UK visa aims to bring talented graduates to Britain

Surprising discoveries

A lake is suing a developer. A group of inanimate natural objects in Florida is the first plaintiff of its kind.

Streaming services are adding tens of thousands of tracks a day. When only a small fraction can truly be called popular, it becomes a numbers game.

Earnings reports are increasingly profane. Is a more casual remote culture normalizing swear words in a professional setting?

An autonomous vehicle fled a traffic stop. The car, which had been driving without lights on, simply thought its business with the police had been concluded.

Who’s got two thumbs and loves Bridgerton? To hone algorithms, Netflix is letting viewers not just like content, but really like content.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, #%&!@ earnings reports, and litigious forests to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Lila MacLellan, Camille Squires, Susan Howson, and Morgan Haefner.

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