11.15.2021

US-China Summit, the Great Resignation, and Teacher Burnout Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Monday, Nov. 15, and we're covering a virtual summit between the US and China, the growing leverage of workers, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Biden-Xi Summit

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold a virtual summit this evening, in the pair's most significant face-to-face engagement since Biden took office in January. The discussion comes days after the Chinese Communist Party issued a resolution that in part elevated Xi to a status alongside party founder Mao Zedong and its modern architect, Deng Xiaoping.

 

The meeting also comes at a time of increased tensions between the two. Notable issues include China's increasingly aggressive stance toward Taiwan, accusations of genocide against China's minority Uyghur population, mutual tariffs on a range of products and services from either country, increasing Chinese militarization, and more.

 

It also remains unclear whether the Biden administration will move to restrict participation in the Chinese-hosted Winter Olympics, which begin in February. 

Great Resignation Continues

An estimated 4.4 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in the month of September, according to government data released Friday. The quits rate, the percentage of resignations relative to total employment, hit 3%. Both figures are the highest on record. 

 

Analysts say the data reflect an increasingly strong labor market, with companies vying for employees. The survey showed 6.5 million new hires were made in September, with 10.4 million job openings on the last day of the month (for context, the US labor force is around 160 million workers). Many workers are quitting in favor of new jobs—the ratio of job openings to unemployed workers remains at prepandemic levels (see data).

 

Colloquially referred to as the Great Resignation, almost 24 million workers have left their jobs since April. Experts have cited better opportunities, pandemic burnout, a shift in worker priorities, and more as reasons for the trend.

Spears Conservatorship Ends

A California judge terminated a conservatorship overseeing the financial affairs of Britney Spears Friday, returning control of a nearly $60M estate to the pop star. The decision ends a 13-year legal arrangement in which her father, Jamie, primarily managed her finances under the pretense Spears suffered from debilitating mental health issues.  

 

While the case attracted significant attention due to Spears' pop star status, advocates said it also shined a light on the issue of legal conservatorships. The arrangements allow persons or organizations to manage the finances of those deemed incapable. Critics argue they often allow conservators to take advantage of wealthy individuals, with little recourse available. 

 

Early efforts to terminate the conservatorship were driven by online activism from fans, largely using the #FreeBritney hashtag, who believed the singer was forced to perform and have medical decisions made against her will. See a timeline here

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Taylor Swift rereleases "Red" album, breaks two Spotify records including most-streamed female in single day with 122.9 million streams (More) | Swift rerecorded the album after her former record label sold her original masters (More)

 

> Nine-year-old boy dies from injuries sustained in Astroworld crowd surge; becomes the 10th and youngest victim (More) | Glen de Vries, entrepreneur who flew alongside William Shatner and two others on second crewed Blue Origin spaceflight, dies in plane crash at 49 (More)

 

> US men's national soccer team tops Mexico 2-0 in World Cup qualifier, now leads CONCACAF qualifying standings (More)

From our partners: Kick-start your journey to financial success. The Ascent's Personal Finance Bootcamp is designed to make personal finance decisions easier and more transparent. Sign up for free and be on your way to a smarter, happier, and richer life.

Science & Technology

> More than 190 countries sign climate deal at COP26 summit; critics say the pledges fall short of needed efforts to limit temperature rise (More) | See what was included in the agreement (More)

 

> Hackers successfully break into the FBI's email system, send thousands of fake emails claiming the recipients were the victims of a cyberattack (More)

 

> Engineers demonstrate production of organic solar cells without the use of toxic chemicals, with efficiencies of 17%; efficiency is more than three times greater than comparable cells (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets up Friday (S&P 500 +0.7%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +1.0%) but close down on the week to snap five consecutive weeks of gains (More)

 

> US consumer confidence falls to lowest level since November 2011 amid growing inflation (More)

 

> Johnson & Johnson to split into two public companies, Toshiba to split into three companies; fellow conglomerate General Electric made a similar announcement last week (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Closing arguments scheduled for today in Kyle Rittenhouse's homicide trial; Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) activates National Guard ahead of verdict (More)

 

> Justice Department charges former Trump adviser Steve Bannon with contempt of Congress after declining to respond to a subpoena from Jan. 6 committee (More) | Former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also declines to respond, no charges brought yet (More)

 

> New report accuses US military of covering up a 2019 airstrike in Syria that allegedly killed more than 60 civilians; defense leaders say 16 ISIS members were killed, but no conclusion on other victims (More)

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ETCETERA

 

America's teachers are burned out.

 

The year's best illustrated children's books. (paywall, NYT)

 

The ups and downs of sudden genius syndrome.

 

Japan's former princess drops title, arrives in New York City.

 

The college football season's best Hail Mary (so far).

 

Visualizing the size of the solar system's biggest asteroids and comets. (via YouTube)

 

Tapeworms bury in Massachusetts man's brain for three years.

 

Cats are always listening.

 

Clickbait: Terminally ill man moons camera, inspires Banksy mural.

 

Historybook: Articles of Confederation, the first US Constitution, is passed (1777); Artist Georgia O’Keeffe born (1887); "Macho Man" Randy Savage born (1952); Two million people protest Vietnam War across US (1969); RIP famed anthropologist Margaret Mead (1978).

 

"I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had."

- Margaret Mead

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