Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—British pound plunges, Facebook-Samsung VR deal, “Jeopardy” bans Canadians

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What to watch for today

The pound is plunging as Brexit becomes a possibility. Sterling dropped 1.7%, the most in more than a year, against the US dollar after the referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union was set for June. Over the weekend, popular London mayor Boris Johnson announced he would campaign to leave.

The Mobile World Congress gets into full swing in Barcelona. Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise announcement Sunday regarding Facebook and Samsung’s virtual-reality partnership. But he could face hostility today over his “Free Basics” scheme.

Will Bolivia grant its president a fourth term? Exit polls suggest voters don’t agree with Evo Morales’s request to run for office one more time. But the vice-president has warned not to read in to early results; the official count is expected at 11pm local time (10 pm ET).

Yahoo looks for a buyer. The internet company will talk with corporate and private equity buyers from as early as today, according to Bloomberg. Potential suitors tipped for the company’s core business include AT&T, Comcast, and Bain Capital.

Delhi faces a water crisis. Activists damaged the city’s water supply on Saturday during a protest over jobs in a neighboring state. Schools and some factories in the capital will be closed as part of a water rationing program.

Earnings for food, fitness, faces, and… Motorola. US milk processor Dean Foods, wearable fitness brand Fitbit, Botox maker Allergan, and Motorola Solutions will report their quarterly performance.

Over the weekend

HSBC reported a surprise loss… The UK-headquartered bank reported a fourth-quarter loss of $858 million, well below the $1.95 billion profit analysts expected. The bank’s profit for the full year also missed estimates, affected in part by legal costs and its offloading of the bank’s Brazilian business.

…and confirmed an ongoing US investigation. HSBC said it was among several banks under scrutiny in the US for their hiring practices in Asia. The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining whether the bank hired the children of powerful Chinese officials.

ISIL attacks killed at least 140 in Syria. Car bombs in Damascus and Homs left hundreds wounded, just hours after US secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov reached a provisional ceasefire in the country.

An Uber driver went on a shooting rampage. Police in Michigan arrested a 45-year-old Uber driver who is accused of killing six people while he was driving around Kalamazoo. According to some reports, he picked up passengers between killings.

Trump and Clinton won big. Hillary Clinton captured more than half of caucus votes in Nevada, while Republican frontrunner Donald Trump won 32% of the vote in the South Carolina primary. Jeb Bush ended his campaign after a disappointing fourth-place finish.

Euro-zone business activity fell to a one-year low. The Markit purchasing manager’s index for manufacturing fell to 51 in February, from 52.3 last month (pdf), suggesting a slower rate of expansion; the services sector dropped to 53, from 53.6. The data hinted that first-quarter growth in the bloc would be less than 0.3%.

Quartz obsession interlude

Olivia Goldhill on the neuroscience behind the “I was just following orders” excuse. “People who’ve been ordered to do something bad to other people appear to genuinely experience a reduced sense of responsibility, according to a new study. ‘In a way, the Nuremberg defense isn’t just about wishing to avoid blame,’ says the study’s co-author. ‘It has some roots in actual subjective experience. And so it displaces responsibility towards people who are issuing the orders.’ Read more here.

Matters of debate

We’re teaching our daughters to be afraid. Parents’ constant warnings to their daughters to “be careful” encourages them to stay inside their comfort zone.

Technology is about to change dramatically. We should expect drones and AI to soon greatly expand our abilities.

Apple shouldn’t give up its fight with the FBI. If it opens one phone, it will open the door for more dubious requests.

Surprising discoveries

Canadians are barred from playing “Jeopardy.” Laws governing sharing information precludes them from joining the US game show.

EBay buyers are sexist. Female sellers earn more if they pretend to be men.

Smartwatches are more popular than Swiss ones. Some 8.1 million smartwatches were shipped last quarter, compared to 7.9 million Swiss watches.

Fizzy drinks may soon help save the planet. A company wants to sell drinks makers carbon dioxide removed from the environment.

Scientists have revived tiny creatures frozen for 30 years. They are millimeter-long organisms, fondly nicknamed “water bears.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fizzy drinks, and unwanted Swiss watches to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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