Briefing of March 31, 2022 — Quartz

Here’s what you need to know

The United States’ chief strategist for sanctions against Russia is visiting India. His meetings come a day ahead of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s trip to Delhi, during which Lavrov is expected to discuss the sale of Indian oil at a discount.

Putin will not stop bombing Mariupol until the city surrenders. But the Russian president may be misinformed about the situation in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Georgian region of South Ossetia wants to join Russia.

Russia will not change its gas prices, but it will demand payment in rubles. It is a strategy to minimize the impact of sanctions. European countries rejected the idea, and Germany and Austria began taking steps to ration gas.

Apple and Meta have been tricked by hackers. User data was obtained through false legal requests and could be used for financial fraud.

Meta paid a Republican consulting firm to convince the United States that TikTok is dangerous for children. The campaign spread misinformation about the origin and effect of certain social media trends.

Google’s sister company Waymo is bringing driverless cars to San Francisco. Rides are free, but only available to Waymo employees.

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To monitor

Thursday is the deadline for the Northern Ireland government to provide abortion services. Abortion became legal in the country in October 2019 and the UK has required the Northern Ireland Department of Health to fully commission abortion services by March 31, 2022.

The region will miss the deadline, leaving provision of the service to the occasional initiative of individual doctors, and forcing many of those seeking abortion to obtain it outside the country. But the British government is stepping in, planning to use all its power to override local authorities and speed up the process of setting up abortion services. At a time when anti-abortion measures are springing up elsewhere, notably in the United States, the case of Northern Ireland shows how fragile reproductive care can be, when even a legal framework allowing abortion does not allow actually abortion.


Why do the splits?

Earlier this week, Tesla announced it would split its shares for the second time in two years, following similar plans by Amazon and Alphabet. The move will drive the stock price down – or seem to, anyway. In reality, the stock will be divided into smaller shares, which will make it easier to invest.

It’s a marketing move, designed to make a company’s stock more attractive to retail investors who feel uncomfortable buying fractional shares – and research shows that it actually works. Tesla should know; the automaker has done it once before, a 5-for-1 split in August 2020 that doubled net stock purchases within weeks. It’s already a darling of retail investors, who own 39% of the company, far more than they do Meta or Alphabet (though nowhere near as much as GameStop, of course).



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Surprising discoveries

Putin may be cracking up, it’s in his voice. Analysis of voice samples from the Russian leader’s speeches over the past two months suggests his confident exterior may be hiding growing stress.

Chile is the hottest new destination for Indian startup founders. Technological expertise, government support and market size attract investors.

Bad for directions? Blame the matrix. New research shows that growing up in grid-shaped cities can affect navigation skills later in life.

Pigs have a lot to say, and we may be on the verge of realizing it. The researchers were able to classify the cries of domestic pigs from birth to slaughter according to their emotional value.

Solar and wind energy provided 10% of the world’s electricity in 2021. This is a new step in the use of renewable sources, but the use of coal has also increased.

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