Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Presidential campaigning, EU deal with UK?, stronger bilingual brains

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What to watch for today and over the weekend

Will an EU summit lead to a deal—or Brexit? EU leaders will reconvene to thrash out a deal, after opposition to the British prime minister’s plan to change the UK’s relationship with the bloc forced talks into the night yesterday. If one is secured, David Cameron plans to hold a cabinet meeting, at which point all the big hitters in his party will declare where they stand on staying in the EU.

US presidential candidates face voters in Nevada and South Carolina. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are closer than ever in the polls ahead of Nevada’s Democratic caucus on Saturday. On the same day, Republicans will face off in South Carolina’s GOP primary, where Donald Trump’s substantial lead may spell the end for Jeb Bush.

Austria’s daily migrant cap begins. Just 80 asylum applications will now be accepted each day at Austria’s southern border with Slovenia, or up to 3,200 if they want to transit through to neighbouring countries.

Nepal and India try to work out their differences. In a visit to India, Nepali prime minister K.P. Oli will lobby his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to end a four-month economic blockade. Nepal has accused India of using the blockade to support ethnic minorities who oppose Nepal’s constitution.

Niger holds elections on Sunday. Ballot boxes open after months of drama in the lead-up to presidential and legislative elections. Fifteen candidates are running for president, including incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou and opposition leader Hama Amadou, currently jailed on charges of baby trafficking.

While you were sleeping

Apple won more time to fight a court order… It now has until next Friday (Feb. 26) to respond to a ruling forcing it to break into one of its iPhones. US authorities want Apple to unlock the iPhone of a terror suspect; Apple said that would set a dangerous precedent.

…as a US government plan to access phone data was revealed. Top US national security officials ordered a government-wide effort to access the “most heavily protected user data on the most secure devices,” according to Bloomberg. The order allegedly came after a secret White House meeting last year.

California declined to enforce safer sex laws for porn actors. Work safety officials voted down a proposed rule that would have forced actors to wear condoms, as well as possibly goggles. There was concern that criminalizing unprotected sex on film could push the industry underground.

Beijing banned all foreign media from publishing online in China… The outright ban could apply to gaming companies like Sony, as well as streaming companies such as Netflix, in addition to news media. Chinese companies will now need to obtain a license before publishing even maps and images.

…and its central bank hid sensitive data. The People’s Bank of China failed to publish two sets of monthly data relating to foreign-currency purchases, leading some to speculate it is losing money faster than previously expected. The bank has been hemorrhaging its foreign-currency reserves to maintain the yuan’s value.

South Korean authorities raided Volkswagen’s offices. Prosecutors also searched the offices of Audi, the German company’s sister brand, and the home of one executive in Seoul. The nation is conducting its own investigation into cheating on emissions tests.

Quartz obsession interlude

Mike Murphy on how to keep the Feds out of your phone, even if Apple won’t. “Apple may have cooperated with the government and unlocked phones up to 70 times in the past… So if the Feds—or for that matter, criminals or other governments—can now or in the future crack iPhone passcodes, with or without Apple’s cooperation, how can you safeguard your data? The answer is pretty simple: just set a longer passcode.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” will bring in money but not jobs. It focuses on manufacturing, which will soon be automated.

There’s an awesome upside to crashing oil prices. It’s now cheaper to feed the world’s hungriest people.

Sabbaticals are the key to maintaining creativity. Dedicated chunks of time off—not the same as vacations—refresh your perspective.

Surprising discoveries

Being bilingual rewires the fundamental structure of your brain. Switching between two languages ultimately makes the brain stronger.

Researchers have created a robotic arm that can play the drums. It attaches to a drummer’s shoulder and keeps perfect time.

A Los Angeles hospital paid a $17,000 ransom for its electronic records. Hackers demanded payment in bitcoin.

Mice are to blame for the horrific traffic in Brussels. They ate the construction blueprints for a key tunnel in need of repairs.

People hate the new Metropolitan Museum logo. One called it a “graphic misfire” (paywall).

Correction: Wednesday’s Daily Brief stated that China’s Okay Airways agreed a purchase of Airbus passenger planes; it in fact agreed a deal with Boeing.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, horrible new logos, and robot drummers to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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