Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Leap year proposals, Leo wins an Oscar, Starbucks launching in Italy

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What to watch for today

The UN begins delivering aid to Syria. It expects to reach around 150,000 people today and 1.7 million by the end of March. The UN is taking advantage of a lull in fighting since Saturday’s truce.

Irish election results are due.  The coalition government of Fine Gael and Labour failed to secure a return to office; out of 158 parliamentary seats, the two parties have won 90. The final numbers are expected today as a recount takes place in County Wexford.

Mexico’s national energy company reckons with low oil prices. Oil titan Pemex will discuss its fourth-quarter results and its plans to cut $5 billion from its 2016 budget.

Valeant reports unaudited earnings. The pharmaceutical giant publishes its fourth-quarter data—only two days after restating its earnings for the past two years.

Irish women get down on one knee. Feb. 29 is leap day–which means that, in keeping with an Irish tradition dating back to the fifth century, some women will be proposing marriage to their boyfriends. 

Over the weekend

“Spotlight” surprised at the Oscars. It won best picture, beating out The Revenant. Leonardo DiCaprio finally won best actor for his role in that movie, while Brie Larson won best actress for Room. But all eyes were on host Chris Rock and his hilarious response to the Oscars diversity controversy

Reformists won a landslide in Iran. All 30 seats up for grabs in Tehran were won by allies of president Hassan Rouhani. That’s important for those seeking change on a national level because Tehran-based lawmakers typically set the parliamentary agenda.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dominated US political coverage. The Democratic presidential candidate scored 73.5% of the vote in Saturday’s (Feb. 27) primary. Meanwhile, Trump wavered with disavowing former white supremacist David Duke and inadvertently retweeted a quote from the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. 

Amazon said it will deliver fresh food in the UK. Morrisons, Britain’s fourth largest supermarket, agreed to supply fresh, frozen, and dry goods for the online retailer’s customers. The move could represent a significant boost to Amazon’s small Pantry service.

Japanese executives have been charged over the Fukushima disaster. Three former heads of Tokyo Electric Power were accused of not taking action despite being aware of the tsunami risk around the nuclear plant. An earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011 caused over 16,000 deaths.

Switzerland and Germany sided with immigrants. Almost 60% of voters in Sunday’s Swiss referendum rejected a plan to deport foreigners convicted of crimes. And Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said that the country’s borders would remain open despite concerns over refugee numbers.

ISIL bombed Baghdad. The Islamic State launched several attacks in the suburbs of Iraq’s capital on Sunday. A twin suicide bombing in Sadr City, a Shi’ite district, was the deadliest of the assaults, claiming the lives of 70 people and wounding 100 others.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anne Quito on the benefits of being German. “Germans have the most powerful passports in the world, offering visa-free access to 177 countries and territories out of a total of 218, according to the 2016 Visa Restrictions Index compiled by the London-based citizenship and immigration firm Henley & Partners. Germans have held this distinction since 2014. Swedes were close behind, with visa-free access to 176 countries.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The euro zone is doomed. So says the former governor of the Bank of England.

We should celebrate female friendships. The support that women share can be hard to find in romantic relationships (paywall).

If Bernie Sanders loses, he’ll still have left a lasting legacy. His popularity, even among Clinton supporters, suggests that his revolution could be a long, slow burn.

Surprising discoveries

Facebook’s new emoji reactions ignore syntax. The reaction words (Love, Sad, Angry, Wow, and Haha) don’t belong together.

Starbucks will open its first shop in Italy. Selling espresso to the Italians—how hard can that be?

Barter economies never existed. There’s no historical description of such a system—though there is evidence of gift economies.

Somalia is turning into a cashless society. Few banks, more phones, and years of instability are fueling the trend.

Our brains are ready for teleportation. A study into how our minds would react to instant travel found that they would do just fine.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, better Facebook emoji, and teleportation devices to And download our new iPhone app for news throughout the day.

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