Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Lee Kuan Yew’s death, Ted Cruz runs, weedkiller warning, Boeing’s force field

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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 to 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.

The US Supreme Court considers the limits of free speech. It will begin hearing the case of 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.

Deciding the fate of RadioShack. The electronics retailer’s bankruptcy auction starts today, pitting investors who want to liquidate the company’s assets against a hedge fund that would keep half its stores open.

Over the weekend

Singapore’s founding prime minister died. Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore from a colonial entrepôt 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.

Ted Cruz launched a presidential bid. The US senator became the first person to officially enter the race to succeed Barack Obama, after posting a video to his Twitter account. The Canadian-born Tea Party Republican called for a “new generation of courageous conservatives.”

Pirelli agreed to a $7.7 billion buyout. The world’s fifth-largest tire manufacturer, and a symbol of Italian engineering, will be bought by state-owned China National Chemical for €7.1 billion. The deal is the latest Chinese foray into Italy, where hundreds of companies are now Chinese-run.

The IMF and the US backed China’s development bank. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said she would be “delighted” to cooperate with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Nathan Sheets, a US official, said separately that US-based institutions such as the World Bank could co-finance some AIIB projects, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

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. 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.

A “war” on cancer is bad for our health. Treating cancer like a monolithic enemy reduces the chances we will take preventative measures.

The US is in an age of irrational parenting. It’s never been safer for American children, but parents behave as though the opposite is true.

The smart home is a long way off.  Smart devices are uninspiring, and consumers aren’t buying them.

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

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

Surprising discoveries

Boeing patented a force field. Lasers ionize the air around an object, which can reduce the impact of shockwaves from explosions.

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. Your chances rise by as much as 50%.

Half the winners of France’s local elections will be women. A new law reserves half the seats.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Ivy League substitutes, and force fields to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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