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ℹ️ You’re reading Quartz Essentials: quick, engaging outlines of the most important topics affecting the global economy.

Feb. 15 2021 collection

Published
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
  • Here’s what you need to know

    US Democrats push for an independent probe of the Capitol riot. House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for a panel modeled on the 9/11 commission, but it would require legislation to set up.

    Australia will review its parliament’s workplace culture. Prime minister Scott Morrison also apologized for his government’s handling of a former staffer’s allegation that she was raped by a male colleague in parliament.

    The new WTO head warned against vaccine nationalism. Economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the World Trade Organization’s first female and first African boss, said her top priority is ensuring the agency does more to address the pandemic.

    South Africa wants to return a million vaccines to India. South Africa halted use of the AstraZeneca shot, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, due to its low efficacy against the country’s Covid-19 variant.

    The Tokyo Olympic committee picks a new president. Today’s meeting kicks off the process of selecting a replacement for former chief Yoshiro Mori, who resigned over sexist comments.

    Slovenia’s prime minister survived a no-confidence vote. The opposition had accused Janez Janša, a nationalist politician, of using the pandemic as a cover to undermine the rule of law and press freedom.

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  • What to watch for

    Image copyright: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
    It’s easy to switch search engines, but that’s not enough.

    How much will Google and Facebook have to pay for news? Tuesday, Australia’s parliament will consider legislation that’s set to create global ripples. Google, which has negotiated deals to pay some publishers for their work, has said that if the bill becomes law, it will be so cost-prohibitive for the company that it will have to yank its search capability from Australian internet users.

    Just before US president Joe Biden was inaugurated, trade representatives urged Australian lawmakers to take the bill—which has wide bipartisan support—back to the drafting table. But Australia has done its homework, spending years on a study on how the country’s journalism industry has suffered thanks to the shift to digital media. It’s a trend that’s certainly not limited to Down Under, and the world will be keeping an eye on the news—digitally, one imagines—as it unfolds.

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  • Charting global brokerage app downloads

    Retail trading was already booming in the US and gaining traction in other parts of the world, and then GameStop came along. Trend: turbocharged.

    Freetrade, the UK-based brokerage app, says daily signups surged from 3,000 before GameStop to as many as 30,000 when news was at a fever pitch. BUX, a Dutch brokerage, said it was onboarding three times as many new customers during the GameStop controversy. Downloads also jumped in Brazil, Japan, and Germany, a country that has been culturally wary of the stock market, according to Apptopia.

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  • Image copyright: Illustration by Giovani Flores

    Over the last quarter-century, online dating went from a stigmatized activity to the most common way couples meet in the US. It has completely, unequivocally revolutionized how we fall in love—and turned into a multi-billion-dollar global industry in the process. It’s only gotten bigger during the pandemic as singles swipe and chat in a socially distant effort to find someone special.

    Read our latest field guide on the dating biz.

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  • Surprising discoveries

    Image copyright: REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

    Lemurs are helping us understand the chemistry of love. Monogamy, rare in mammals, relies on different parts of the brain to make the love last.

    AI is learning to predict human mistakes by studying chess errors. The program could be used to catch misreadings of medical images, among other applications.

    Stonehenge was likely first erected 120 miles away from its current location. New research suggests the ancient monument stood for 400 years in Wales before migrants moved the stones.

    Companies are racing to age whiskey overnight. If the new technology is successful—that is, if the stuff is drinkable—distillers could shave years and millions of dollars off the production process.

    More diverse police departments are less dangerous to citizens. An analysis in Chicago found that Black and Hispanic officers made fewer stops and used force less often than white officers.

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