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Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Barack Obamas Jan. 2015 address to a joint session of Congress
Image copyright: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Here’s what you need to know

Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in state at the US Capitol. The Supreme Court justice, who died last weekend, will be the first woman to receive the honor. President Donald Trump is expected to name a new Supreme Court nominee soon, and is still refusing to commit to an orderly transition if he loses the election.

China’s sovereign wealth fund did well on foreign investments last year. The $1 trillion fund reversed a loss the previous year with a 17.4% return in 2019 (paywall). The additional funds could help cushion the blow of a largely devastating 2020.

Europe is back in defensive mode. Fighting a new surge in coronavirus cases, France will restrict the opening hours of bars and restaurants, Austria banned aprés-ski parties, further lockdown measures are expected in Madrid, and students in Scotland have been asked to stay away from the pub. Good luck with that last one.

Scientists sequenced the genome of the original penicillin mold. A team of researchers in London used a frozen sample of Fleming’s accidental discovery that changed 20th century medicine, and they hope their work leads to better modern antibiotics.

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Big moves in gig news


Market Haiku: A joint effort

Image copyright: Reuters/Katrina Manson
Integrating…

In East Africa,
Liquidity’s the question.
Teamwork’s the answer.

After nearly a decade in the works, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda are speeding up plans to merge their stock markets electronically in a bid to ease the cost and time difficulties of cross-border trading. Read Yomi Kazeem’s full report in Quartz Africa.

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Charting China’s coal plant emissions

China dropped a climate bombshell Tuesday, when president Xi Jinping announced at the United Nations the country will aim to cut its net carbon footprint to zero by 2060. Single-handedly responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, a carbon-neutral China would have huge ramifications for global warming.

A chart showing China's coal plan emissions, by age of plant

One significant problem: the country’s coal plants skew young. Tim McDonnell explains why this will present a tricky obstacle on the journey to carbon neutrality.


Dress for joy

A gif of Lady Gaga in fun clothes, shrugging.
Image copyright: Giphy

Odds are, you’re dressing differently these days. Sales of the sartorial trappings like high heels, men’s suits, and underwire bras are suffering, while comfort—in the form of sweatpants, athleisure, and Crocs—is king. The shift in work environments has provided us the opportunity to ask ourselves what clothes actually feel good, but why not take it a step further, and use this as an opportunity to discover how our clothes can be a source of joy, too?

“I think a lot about things that we can do in our space so we can experience that moment of joy,” says Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. According to Lee, happiness isn’t a singular feeling, but rather a state that results from feeling content and secure. Joy, meanwhile, “is much simpler and more immediate. It’s defined as an intense momentary experience of positive emotion.”

Picking out the right outfit can be like planting a bulb of joy for yourself that blossoms as the day goes on. Read more in our latest field guide, The Home Office Handbook.

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Obsession interlude: Future of work

Forget about preparing yourself for the future of work—think about the children. As they grow up and enter the workforce, today’s kids will inevitably contend with the forces of automation, shifting job prospects, and the gig economy.

Fortunately, data editor Dan Kopf and art director Bárbara Abbês have you and your young ones covered. In A is for Automation, they try to prepare the children for the working world of the future. Here’s an excerpt:

D is for Data,
It’s everywhere now,
It can be hard to make sense of,
You’ll be in demand if you know how

Don’t worry, grown-ups: The rest of our Future of Work obsession is for you.


You asked about mask washing

Why do we see so many articles about the importance of careful handling and washing of masks? Okay, I get it, I breathe through it, so there is no incremental risk to me for handling my own mask. Seems no more dangerous than (say) my T-shirt. The focus seems misplaced. 

It’s not your hygiene we’re worried about (we’re sure you’re very clean), but what you’ve been exposed to out in the world. We know that cloth can harbor viruses for up to 12 hours. What we don’t know is if they’re still active for the entirety of that time. Considering that the purpose of masks is to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens, it’d be counterproductive to wear a mask with viruses and bacteria on it. So the guidance of washing a mask after every use comes from an abundance of caution in place of actual scientific research that provides answers.

We get that it seems like a lot, especially if you try to make your shirts last by not washing them after every use. But consider this: Unlike your T-shirt, your mask covers your nose and mouth, which are direct entryways from the outside world into your respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. You want to keep those entryways as clean as possible.

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Imagery Interlude

Today marks the birthday of the late US astronaut John W. Young in 1930. At 42 years of service, Young holds the record as the longest-serving US astronaut, and the only one who flew on the Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions. Here he is on the surface of the moon 1972, jumping off the ground and saluting the US flag.

Astronaut John Young leaps from the lunar surface.
Image copyright: NASA

Get yourself securely in Tim Fernholz’s orbit by catching up with Space Business.

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Surprising discoveries

Dogs in Finland are being trained to detect coronavirus. Helsinki airport has been conducting trials this week, with the pups nearly reaching “100% sensitivity.”

Birds changed their tune in lockdown. Their songs sounded different under the restrictions, according to a scientific study.

A parrot landed on a soccer player’s head during practice. Cameras captured Bruna Benties’ shock as the colorful macaw said hello.

David Attenborough’s new habitat is Instagram. The British naturalist set a record for the fastest time to garner a million followers on the platform.

Now’s your chance to stock up on airplane bottles. Qantas is selling the fully loaded bar carts from its retired Boeing 747s.


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Image copyright: Giphy