Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today and over the weekend
Canada begins bilateral trade talks with China. Prime minister Justin Trudeau will head to Canada’s second-largest trading partner on Sunday to promote “a progressive trade agenda and tourism initiatives,” and discuss climate change. Critics have raised concerns about a possible free trade agreement, citing Chinese human rights violations.
Barack Obama dines with Emmanuel Macron. The current French president will treat the former US president to a “private” lunch in Paris this weekend ahead of an event with communications professionals. The meeting isn’t official to avoid offending Donald Trump.
Japan schedules the emperor’s abdication. The Imperial House Council, chaired by prime minister Shinzo Abe, will meet Friday to discuss a timeline for the reign change, expected on April 30, 2019. Crown Prince Naruhito would take the throne the next day.
While you were sleeping
The White House is planning to fire Rex Tillerson. The move, expected in the next few weeks, would end the strained relationship (paywall) between Trump and his secretary of state, who reportedly called him a “f***ing moron” at a Pentagon meeting. CIA director Mike Pompeo is expected to take Tillerson’s place.
Russell Simmons stepped down from his entertainment empire after sexual assault allegations. The Def Jam founder released a statement apologizing to his accuser, writer Jenny Lumet, but also said her memory of the incident was “very different” from his own. Separately, NBC anchor Matt Lauer released his own hedging apology, claiming that some allegations were “untrue or mischaracterized.”
Volkswagen became the latest electric car contender. Despite its still-fresh emissions scandal, the German automaker plans to introduce one or two new vehicles (paywall) to the US by 2020, expecting to get the cars on the road by 2023. Volkswagen is banking on its tried-and-true production process, whereas top challenger Tesla still struggles to meet demand.
British lawmakers urged Theresa May to cancel Trump’s visit. After the US president’s anti-Muslim retweets sparked widespread outrage, the prime minister has faced mounting pressure to revoke the invitation for Trump to visit Britain as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II.
US stocks hit record highs while bitcoin plunged. Senator John McCain announced his support of the GOP tax bill, and the market surged accordingly. But bitcoin’s bubble deflated alarmingly, with a drop from $11,395 to $9,000—losing a fifth of its value—in less than 24 hours.
Quartz obsession interlude
Thomas Page McBee on whether a man can truly not know whether he abused or harassed someone: “Today, it’s easy to identify the most toxic results of hyper-masculinity in the actions of sexual predators, who are finally being brought to justice. There’s some satisfaction in seeing them fall, one by one. But I remain worried about the men who live in shades of grey, men who have reacted to the ruin of offenders with wide-eyed defensiveness, tone-deafness, or palatable anxiety.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The bitcoin bubble is the media’s fault. News outlets have always fed the public frenzy for dubious investing; the famous Dutch tulip bubble coincided with the advent of newspapers.
Are we witnessing the end of the jumbo jet? Gas-guzzling aircraft giants are expensive for airlines, which are opting for smaller planes.
The new Mulan actress is either the worst or best China has to offer. Liu Yifei may rate poorly on China’s IMDB, but her career has an Emma Watson-like charm.
Some tarantulas live in high rises. The newly discovered blue-variant spiders use trees much like skyscrapers, carving individualized rooms in the same stump.
Amazon thinks Alexa can fix conference calls. Its AI assistant will be able to book rooms, set up call lines, and manage travel plans.
China seized a record haul of contraband pangolin scales. It amounted to 30,000 illegally hunted members of the endangered species, prized by traditional medicine.
Cocaine’s vegan status is up for debate. The plant’s environmental impact and the ethics behind buying and using the drug raise red flags.
Someone turned a Tesla into a bitcoin mine. It’s only a good idea if you’re using an unlimited Tesla supercharging station.
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