🌍 Alibaba hit by covid

🌍 Alibaba hit by covid

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Alibaba reported its slowest quarterly growth since 2014. The Chinese e-commerce giant’s growth still beat analyst expectations, though multiple covid lockdowns slowed both sales and supply chains.

US financial regulators proposed new ESG disclosure requirements. Their goal is to address issues of “greenwashing” by asset managers.

New details emerged about the Uvalde, Texas shooting. Frustrations grew after a timeline released by local police revealed an apparent lag in emergency response.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down from its board. His exit had been planned since he left his position as CEO. Meanwhile, Twitter will pay a $150 million fine for selling user data, and Elon Musk is pitching in more of his wealth for a Twitter buyout.

Colombia may get its first leftist leader. A lambaster of the country’s inequality and elites, the 62-year-old Gustavo Petro may be propelled to office by the largest youth electorate in Colombia’s history.


What to watch for

The 2022 World Economic Forum in Davos is over, but the challenges keeping world leaders up at night persist. While trying to keep the jargon to a minimum, we asked some Davos attendees to give us their current panic setting—1 being low and 5 being high—about various pressing topics.

📈  Inflation scored highest on everyone’s list. KPMG US CEO Paul Knopp said he’s particularly concerned by “the number of changes and the number of risks in the market that are intersecting right now.”

📉  The crypto bust came in second with 3s and 4s across the board, though Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield only rated it a 2. “I’m kind of enjoying it.”

🦠 Catching covid at Davos was only the mildest of concerns: almost all 1s.

Catch up on the Davos highlights by flipping through past issues of Need to Know: Davos.

Just how easy is it to get a gun in America?

Easy as click, click, buy
Easy as click, click, buy

The fact that shopping for a firearm does not feel noticeably different than ordering a Lego set from Amazon is a telling commentary on the prevalence of guns in US culture. Quartz ordered the exact same gun as was purchased by the gunman who shot and killed 19 students and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas. The DDM4V7, bought a few days after the gunman turned 18, can be ordered in five clicks.

While proof of age and a clean criminal record are required to pick up the gun, these documents weren’t requested when we made the order. Aside from that, it was a routine purchase.

What is strategic ambiguity?

The US has long been flip-floppy when it comes to its policy toward Taiwan. But people are wondering if that will change after president Joe Biden appeared to ditch strategic ambiguity this week when he said the US would intervene if China invaded Taiwan. Of course, the White House clarified those comments, making the president’s words, well, pretty ambiguous.

✦ This week’s Weekend Brief—exclusively for Quartz members—will explain what strategic ambiguity is and how it relates to Taiwan. Sign up to get the brief this weekend and take 40% off.

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🌍 Where 5G has been rolled out in Africa

🙃 Why is India’s economy looking so bleak?

Surprising discoveries

Paxlovid rebound is a thing. The covid antiviral has led to a curious number of “rebound” cases where patients test positive for the virus days after testing negative.

Not Sharknado, but Sharkcano. The underwater volcano of that name is inspired by two native species of sharks that have mutated to live near its acidic conditions.

Argentinian scientists discovered a 30-foot “dragon of death.” The recently discovered pterosaur may have ruled the skies 86 million years ago.

The Earth is losing its biocrust. The thin layer of topsoil found mostly in arid environments reduces global dust emissions by as much as 60%—but it may be under threat from climate change.

Oud comes from rotting trees. How did something grotesque turn into a cornerstone in perfumery? 🎧 Learn on this week’s episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

👃 Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Sharknami, and a dragon of life to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Scott Nover, Julia Malleck, Susan Howson, and Morgan Haefner.