Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Merkel faces electoral test, Google’s AI clincher, a penguin’s devotion

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What to watch for today and over the weekend

Ben Carson endorses Donald Trump. Having dropped out of the Republican presidential race, the retired neurosurgeon now intends to back the controversial front-runner.

A packed day for Chinese economy watchers. Retail sales and industrial production figures will be released, central-bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan will discuss monetary policy and the yuan, and three financial watchdogs will hold briefings on Saturday.

Angela Merkel faces a test of her migrant stance. The “Super Sunday” results from the German states of Badem-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt, and Rheinland-Palatinate will be the clearest indication yet as to whether the country backs Merkel’s refugee policies. The right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany is expected to do well.

Google’s AI plays the deciding game of Go. World champion Lee Se-Dol lost the first two games in the best-of-five contest, putting the DeepMind software on the verge of conquering one of the last board games where humans are still on top. The next two matches are at 1pm Korean time (10pm ET) on Saturday and Sunday.

Prepare for more daylight in US hours. At 2am ET on Monday morning, the clocks go forward by an hour.

While you were sleeping

Republicans debated in Miami. Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich faced off in Miami in the last debate before major contests next week in Florida and Ohio. Rubio and Trump argued about Trump’s earlier statement—“Islam hates us”—but overall this was the most subdued and substantive debate yet.

Western powers discussed splitting up Syria. A UN Security Council diplomat speaking anonymously said that leaders were considering a plan to create a federal structure in the war-torn country, in advance of the next round of peace talks on March 14 in Geneva. UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura told Russia’s RIA news agency that Syria will hold a presidential election in 18 months.

Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau bonded. Bromance was in the air at the state dinner between the US and Canadian presidents after a day spent discussing progressive politics, climate-change measures, and hockey in the first official visit by a Canadian prime minister to the US in almost 20 years.

Germany went into deflation. Year-on-year consumer prices (paywall) for February dropped by 0.2%, down from a 0.4% rise in January. It’s not good news for the ECB after it presented a new package of easing measures yesterday to try and stave off deflationary pressure from the euro-zone economies.

Ireland failed to elect a prime minister. Incumbent Enda Kenny didn’t get the votes he needed to stay in power, with his Fine Gael-Labour coalition failing to get enough votes to continue in last month’s elections. Kenny will remain as caretaker taoiseach.

Quartz obsession interlude

Alison Griswold on Instacart’s shaky attempt to become the Uber for groceries. “Like many of its Silicon Valley peers, Instacart followed in Uber’s footsteps by betting big on independent contractors and on-demand services. While the ‘Uber-for-X’ model may seem simple, it turns out not to be replicated so easily.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It’s time to break up the Republican party… “True” conservatives need to break away from Trump supporters and build something new.

…and Western powers should reconsider a plan to break up Syria. Previous attempts to partition countries have only made things worse.

Frequently changing passwords makes them less safe. The more often people are asked to create new passwords, the lazier they get.

Surprising discoveries

A hacker’s typo foiled a $1-billion bank heist. Misspelling “foundation” set off alarm bells at Bangladesh’s central bank.

Calling someone a Neanderthal isn’t really insulting. Neanderthals were actually quite smart.

Turkey’s first lady thinks harems were good for women. She said the Ottoman sultans’ harems “prepared women for life.”

A Brazilian man has earned a penguin’s devotion. “Dindim” swims 5,000 miles every year to reunite with the man who rescued him.

There’s an easy way to break into fingerprint-locked smartphones. Copies made on inkjet printers will do the trick.

A mystery trader is frightening stock traders in Turkey. He or she is making huge bets, causing some to suspect it could be an algorithm.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, penguin buddies, and inkjet fingerprints for hacking iPhones to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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