Quartz Daily Brief—Lee Kuan Yew’s death, Ted Cruz runs, weedkiller warning, spring is getting shorter

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What to watch for today

Europe’s dysfunctional duo limps on. German chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with her Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, in Berlin to discuss the bad blood between the two nations over Greece’s commitment to its bail-out. The two managed to make it through the other side of a wider euro zone summit last week.

What’s next for the US economy? The US reveals its latest sales figures for previously owned homes, and Federal Reserve vice chairman Stanley Fischer speaks in New York amid speculation the Fed will start raising interest rates again soon.

The US Supreme Court considers the limits of free speech. It will begin hearing a case brought by a Texas man whose vanity license plate application was rejected because it contained the Confederate flag—a symbol of the pro-slavery southern states in the US civil war.

Ted Cruz launches his presidential bid. The Republican senator from Texas is expected to become the first person to officially enter the race to succeed Barack Obama, in an speech at a private Christian college in Virginia founded by fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.

Over the weekend

Singapore’s founding prime minister died. Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore from a colonial entrepot in Southeast Asia to one of the world’s most important financial centers, serving as a model for hopeful autocrats everywhere.  Lee, who had been in the hospital on life support for several weeks, was 91.

France’s Socialists lost ground. President François Hollande’s ruling Socialist Party came third in the first round of local voting (paywall), behind former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing allied UMP Party and the far-right Front National. A second round of voting will take place across France on March 29.

The IMF offered support for China’s development bank… Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund said she would be delighted to cooperate with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Several European nations including the UK and Germany have pledged to join the bank this month.

…As did the US. The US government believes Washington-based institutions such as the World Bank could co-finance some AIIB projects, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The US had tried to convince western powers to shun the China-led bank, but now reportedly believes it could shape policy by working with it.

Iran’s nuclear talks made progress. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said a deal to limit the country’s nuclear program—and ease western sanctions on Iran—was in sight (paywall). US secretary of state John Kerry is pushing a March 31 goal for a preliminary agreement, which has drawn some criticism.

The world’s most common weedkiller was linked to cancer. The World Health Organization classified the herbicide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (paywall). Monsanto, which sells the weedkiller as “Roundup,” disputed the classification.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on how artists like Kendrick Lamar and Drake are saving the album format. “The revival was kicked off by Beyoncé, who released her eponymous album on iTunes in 2013 with no advance warning. Dropping it at once meant that, at least for a few days, there were no singles or hits to play—the listener had to go through the whole album, in sequence or out, and discover the songs themselves.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Singapore needs to push its companies overseas. Partnering with neighboring economies would be the best way to increase innovation at home.

Don’t expect to live in a smart home any time soon.  Smart devices are uninspiring, and consumers are shunning them.

Believe the hype; where you go to school does matter. Ivy Leagues make a difference to your life.

We shouldn’t teach at school by subject anymore. Instead, schools should teach by phenomenon.

We could be entering a new era of bad weather. Is this the next phase of climate change?

Surprising discoveries

Only about 2,000 babies have been born from cryogenically frozen eggs. Plenty of women are being sold an idea that is still in development.

Spring gets 30 seconds shorter every year. The Earth’s wobbly axis is to blame.

Working for a bad boss increases the chances of a heart attack. By as much as 50%.

Fifty percent of winners in France’s local elections will be women. A new law will bring the figure up from 14%.

One of the best new wines comes from a tiny Italian island off Africa. Just around the corner from Giorgio Armani’s house.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, new wines, and surprise albums to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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