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🌍 Ukraine’s EU fate

EC president Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv and said this week will bring Ukraine news about its recommendation.

Ursula von der Leyen and Volodymyr Zelenskyy sit across from each other at a conference table, she in a suit, he in his customary olive T-shirt, and the flags of the EU and Ukraine in the background. Zelenskyy is speaking and gesturing with his hands, and von der Leyen is listening with her hands on the table.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters
Ursula von der Leyen and Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a surprise meeting in Kyiv on June 11.
This story was published on our Quartz Daily Brief newsletter, The concise, conversational rundown you need to start your day.
  • Susan Howson
By Susan Howson

News Editor


Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The EU will announce its decision on Ukraine. After a surprise trip to Kyiv, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine will learn by the end of the week if it will be recommended for EU status. If all 27 countries vote in favor, Ukraine will have to engage in lengthy negotiations about reforms before it can be admitted.

Russia handed out passports in eastern Ukraine. State propaganda claims that thousands of Ukrainians in the cities of Kherson and Melitopol applied for documentation.

Two protesters were killed in India. Police shot the protesters while they were demonstrating against controversial comments PM Narenda Modi’s spokesperson made about the Prophet Muhammad.

China called the US a “bully.” Defense minister Wei Fenghe accused the US of “hijacking” Asian countries over the issue of Taiwanese independence.

US inflation is hurting the yen. While the currency often rises when US markets get hammered, the Bank of Japan’s continued low interest rates are likely not doing it any favors.

Revlon is reportedly filing for bankruptcy. The makeup giant has struggled with inflation and supply chain woes.

What to watch for

US president Joe Biden and US golf champion Phil Mickelson are both playing nice with Saudi Arabia. Biden, steeped in an oil crisis at home, is reportedly willing to move on from the grisly assassination of US-based Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in order to smooth over his rapport with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA determined ordered the murder.

Meanwhile, a score of golf stars have chosen to join LIV Golf, a Saudi-funded organization that’s shelling out billions in contracts and prize money. Mickelson has criticized the Saudi government for having a “horrible record” on human rights, but claims it’s more important that the PGA Tour, the world’s premier golf body, gets some necessary competition. He also called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

When the US Open, which is allowing the suspended players to play, begins on June 16, expect some grilling of players by reporters about this growing rift in the sport.

We’re in the DALL-E 2 era now

What do $2 billion and seven years of research for the betterment of all mankind get you? For one, a really excellent picture of an astronaut riding a horse.

DALL-E 2's interpretation of the prompt: An astronaut riding a horse. It' astronaut riding a white horse through space. It's beautiful.

The above picture is the original creation of an OpenAI computer model named DALL-E 2, which has learned to associate words and images from a database of hundreds of millions of pictures and labels describing their content.

DALL-E 2 is waitlist only—for now. But, be warned, while many of the images the model comes up with are as cute and fun as its WALL-E namesake, plenty of them make it clear why OpenAI worked a Salvador Dalí reference into the name. Its creators hope humans will use it for good (read: “to make pictures of partying avocados”) but also acknowledge the potential for malicious deepfakes, political disinformation, and revenge porn.

The future of plant-based meat

During the first few months of the pandemic, plant-based meat sales took off, buoyed in part by frantic pantry-stocking. But in Covid Year 2, they hit a plateau, and last year, plant-based meat made up just over 1% of US meat sales.

Some industry professionals see slowing sales as a sign that plant-based meat is destined to become a niche product, like organic and grass-fed meat, rather than a mainstream one.

A chart showing US meat product sales in 2021, with fresh meat at $118.6 billion and processed meat at $40.6 billion and meat substitutes at $1.3 billion

✦ The latest edition of The Forecast, a weekly email available exclusively to Quartz members, tucks into the plant-based meat industry. Read the web version—and get The Forecast in your inbox every Sunday—by becoming a member today at 40% off.

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Surprising discoveries

Researchers are studying newborns’ metabolisms to figure out the origins of obesity. Though some say even newborns are too old for the purpose.

Starbucks may close its bathrooms to the public again. Returning CEO Howard Schultz said his priority is keeping Starbucks staff safe.

Falling into a vat of chocolate is not as pleasant as it seems. Two workers were rescued at a candy facility in Pennsylvania after doing just this.

An Irish-language movie broke box office records in the UK and Ireland. The Quiet Girl is paving the way for other films in the language.

Podcasts were invented in the mid-2000s. But it was the 2014 true crime podcast Serial that really figured out the secret sauce. 🎧 Learn how podcasting took off and where it will go from here in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession… podcast.

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

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, DALL-E 2 prompts, and chocolate nightmares to Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Nicolás Rivero, Scott Nover, and Susan Howson.


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