Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Apple vs. the FBI, South China Sea escalation, Instagram’s famous animals

What to watch for today

Eastern Europe creates a headache before a key EU summit. British prime minister David Cameron’s plan to limit benefits for migrants was rejected by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Czech Republic ahead of the summit tomorrow. Cameron is calling around to try to shore up support—and avoid Brexit.

Australia and China spar over the South China Sea. Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop will press her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over controversial manmade islands during her visit to Beijing. Satellite images have revealed a Chinese missile deployment there. Bishop has already received a frosty reception.

T-Mobile opens its books. After struggling with subscriber losses for years, the wireless carrier is expected to report higher customer numbers thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign.

Marriott reports on its fourth quarter. The US-based hotel chain is expected to show higher profit, revenue, occupancy, and room rates. Investors should also get a closer look at the company’s $12.2 billion acquisition of Starwood.

While you were sleeping

Apple refused a court order to hack an iPhone. A judge ordered the phone maker to assist the FBI in unlocking the handset belonging to the terrorist who killed 14 people in a San Bernadino, California last year. Apple said building a back door is both “dangerous” and represents government “overreach.”

The US flew fighter jets over South Korea. Its air force piloted four F-22 war planes over the country’s air space in retaliation for North Korea launching a satellite into orbit. The US conducted a similar flyover after North Korea conducted a nuclear bomb test, just weeks before the satellite launch.

Authorities put Nicolas Sarkozy under investigation. Prosecutors will look at whether the former French president broke campaign funding rules. The campaign costs for his unsuccessful 2012 reelection bid might have been double the legal spending limit.

Big deals were announced for major plane makers. Okay Airways, China’s first private carrier, agreed to buy a dozen 737 Max jets from US producer Airbus, for $1.3 billion. Philippine Airlines ordered six Airbus A350-900s, worth $1.9 billion to the European rival.

Quartz obsession interlude

Corinne Purtill on the highly profitable but complicated world of Instagram’s famous animals. “Animal Instagram makes perfect sense, the place where America’s $60 billion pet industry and obsession with curated moments come together in an adorably fuzzy ball. And as with most things pet-related, the way we relate to it says a lot more about us than it does about the animals.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

High-denomination banknotes should be abolished. Even the $100 bill is too high; big bills facilitate crime.

Donald Trump won’t become US president. Americans realize that it’s “a serious job. It’s not hosting a talk show,” says president Barack Obama.

We need to be more open about depression at work. Just like any other illness, it can’t be switched off at the office.

Surprising discoveries

There is a mathematical formula for choosing your ideal partner. Using it will increase your odds of settling with “the one.”

China is displacing thousands of people to hunt for aliens. A 500-meter radio telescope will dwarf the current record holder.

Italy is limiting visitors to the Cinque Terre. After 1.5 million tourists, you’ll have to wait ’til next year.

Grocery stores are selling Parmesan cheese laced with wood pulp. The cellulose is added to cut costs.

Gender bias in science and math is not just a theory. Women who get A’s are rated on par with men who get B’s.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, real Parmesan, and dating formulas to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search