Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Scalia replacement, a better commute through science, California gas leak capped

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What to watch for today

Obama has two choices in filling the Scalia vacancy. The US president has two options in the face of an intransigent Republican opposition in Congress: pick a superstar moderate, or use his power of recess appointment.

We still don’t know enough about Zika. The potential link between a spike in microcephaly cases in Brazil and the Zika virus has spurred a global public health emergency, but it’s now looking like the problem may have been overstated—or at the very least, misunderstood.

US customers still want landlines. But in a time of continuing deregulation, California in particular is concerned that Americans are getting gouged by phone companies who would rather see subscribers switch to cellular service.

AT&T will begin testing 5G technology. Even as 4G LTE adoption continues to grow, a 5G test will be run in Austin, Tex., later this year. At 10 to 100 times faster than 4G, a user will be able to download a TV show in less than 3 seconds.

While you were sleeping

California capped its gas leak. Engineers have finally staunched a leaking gas well in southern California’s Aliso Canyon, which put 96,000 tons of methane into the air. But America’s other infrastructure problems didn’t disappear in a haze of natural gas.

The pope slammed Mexico’s wealthy. While celebrating Mass in the Mexican town of Ecatepec, Francis told attendees that deep inequality and the violence of the drug trade were causing pain, bitterness, and suffering among the poor.

Ford is trying to fix your commute. The car company, whose founder famously suggested his customers would’ve only thought to ask for faster horses, has hired design firm Ideo to study the “complicated, gnarly” problem of commutes.

Cuba returned an American missile it received “by mistake” two years ago. The missile did not contain explosives, but uses advanced targeting technology the US feared might be shared with the likes of North Korea and China.

The annual NBA all-star game tips off. The best players in the National Basketball Association are meeting in Toronto, home of the Raptors franchise. It’s the first time the game will be held outside the US. The dunk competition, held Saturday night, featured some extreme acrobatics.

Quartz obsession interlude

The clever strategy that could stop the polarization of American politics. Yes, gerrymandering is a big problem that has enabled extremist candidates to hold office on both ends of the political spectrum. But the real solution, writes Lee Drutman, may be ending single-member districts altogether. Read more here.

Matters of debate

The solar boom is looking like a bubble. Is demand really there, or are government subsidies propping up the market?

Cash is king for Europeans. Restrictions on cash payments have been put forward by the German government, but the proposal has not been well received.

What kind of texter do you want in a partner? Terse or verbose? Whichever you prefer, beware that a person’s texting manner may be different from her real-life persona.

Hillary Clinton deserves blame for Syria. Her intransigence “led to the failure of [Kofi] Annan’s peace efforts in the spring of 2012,” argues economist Jeffrey Sachs.

Surprising discoveries

Avidita Place, Cupidity Drive, and Fourberie Lane. A local official in New York named the streets of a new real-estate development with synonyms for greed and deception.

Water scarcity affects over four billion people a year. A new study finds that water shortages are a bigger deal than previously thought, and only likely to get worse.

Cultural Revolution-era China revered the mango. After Mao gave a reward of 40-odd mangoes to enthusiastic revolutionaries, the fruit developed a cult of its own.

Sci-Hub is back. The shuttered website that pirated 47 million academic papers has sprung up anew, in a way that will be harder for authorities to take down.

Play-Doh is more popular than ever. The clay-like craft toy has reported double-digit revenue growth three years in a row.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, street-name double entendres, and pirated academic papers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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