🌍 Russia cuts off gas supplies

A worker stands near a drilling rig at Grabowiec 6 near the village of Lesniowice, southeast Poland, home to U.S. giant Chevron’s first shale gas well in the country.
A worker stands near a drilling rig at Grabowiec 6 near the village of Lesniowice, southeast Poland, home to U.S. giant Chevron’s first shale gas well in the country.
Image: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Good morning,  Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Russia is cutting off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Energy giant Gazprom claims they failed to pay in rubles, while the EU described the move as “blackmail.”

Tesla shares are falling. Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle company had more than $125 billion wiped off its market value yesterday, following the announcement of his agreement to buy Twitter.

Europe warned Musk against skirting new rules. The EU and UK said Twitter will still have to comply with laws regulating harmful content.

Will Beijing see a Shanghai-style lockdown? Mass covid testing is under way in the capital, and for now, only a few residential buildings are severely restricted. Meanwhile, oil prices rose on news of China’s stimulus plans.

Big tech companies reported quarterly earnings. Microsoft is doing well thanks to continued demand for its cloud services, while Alphabet fell short.

What to watch for

Boeing reports quarterly earnings today. It’s been three years since the airplane maker’s 737 Max jet was grounded worldwide following two fatal crashes, resulting in its first annual loss in more than two decades. The company made a series of changes to the aircraft, and most countries are now allowing the 737 Max to fly again—an uptick in deliveries of the plane is expected to boost Boeing’s earnings.

A chart showing Boeing 737 Max deliveries, which drop sharply in 2018 through 2020 but pick up again majorly after that.

But the manufacturer is fighting other headwinds. Production of its 787 Dreamliner jet has been stalled since last May, and deliveries aren’t expected to resume until the second half of 2022. A Boeing jet flown by China Eastern also crashed on March 21, causing the airline to temporarily ground more than 200 planes.

The black box hasn’t revealed conclusive evidence regarding the cause of the crash, and China Eastern recently started flying the Boeing model, a 737-800, again.

What can kill Twitter?

Though the idea of Elon Musk buying Twitter has certainly gotten hands wringing, it’s unlikely anything he does in the name of free speech will be what causes Twitter’s demise.

Yes, the platform has been working for years on curbing hate speech, and ​​unleashing the trolls will undoubtedly be bad for its bottom line. No matter what business model(s) the network pursues under Musk—advertising, subscription revenue, NFTs—there are financial perils to letting hate speech and misinformation fester. Among them is a potential exodus of users and advertisers.

But that won’t seal the deal. It would have to be a combination of two factors that send it the way of MySpace:

😱 A user experience that gets worse and worse

🤺 A very, very good challenger enters the arena

In a lot of ways, Facebook has been here before, and Twitter would do well to learn from Meta’s mistakes.

Can anything kill a nation’s debt?

Image for article titled 🌍 Russia cuts off gas supplies
Image: Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Well, the first problem is that many people see national debt in a similar light as personal debt. In reality, it operates completely differently.

Pop quiz: What measure of national debt should we really pay attention to? 

  1. The big (and ever-growing) sum of everything that’s owed
  2. The debt-to-GDP ratio
  3. A country’s ability to service the debt, or the cash needed to repay interest and principal on debt that’s owed in a year

Answer: C

🎧 Want to know why? This week’s episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast looks at the world’s complicated relationship with national debt.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

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Surprising discoveries

Robotic hamburger helpers are joining the line. Miso Robotics will provide US chain Jack in the Box with “Sippy,” a drinks machine, and “Flippy 2,” a burger-flipping bot.

Turns out spider sex is all about the smash and dash. Researchers think male spiders catapult off females post-coitus to avoid being cannibalized.

Nike “CryptoKick” NFT sneakers are selling for more than $100,000. One pair of these digital shoes is selling for more than $500,000 (200 ETH).

In other unwearable footwear news, a 1,700-year-old sandal was found in Norway. A hiker discovered the Roman-style shoe in the Horse Ice Patch mountain pass.

Scientists detected all of DNA’s building blocks on meteorites. Long ago space rocks may have brought these elements for life to Earth. Thanks, space rocks!

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, shoes one can wear, and spiders that aren’t afraid to stick around 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 Hasit Shah, Julia Malleck, Kira Bindrim, Susan Howson, Courtney Vinopal, and Morgan Haefner.