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 Beijing 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.
The US Senate resumes voting on a tax bill. Majority leader Mitch McConnell said voting will resume at 11am local time today. Republicans, who hold a slim majority, are scrambling to salvage the legislation, with three party members demanding changes to the bill to avoid a large deficit increase.
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.
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 Trump a “f***ing moron” at a Pentagon meeting. CIA director Mike Pompeo is expected to take Tillerson’s place.
Volkswagen became the latest electric-car contender. Despite its emissions scandal, the German automaker plans to introduce one or two new vehicles (paywall) to the US by 2020, expecting to start production by 2023. Volkswagen is banking on its tried-and-true production process, whereas top challenger Tesla still struggles to meet demand.
Protestors clashed with police as vote counting dragged on in Honduras. Suspecting foul play, supporters of presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla took to the streets. Nasralla had pulled ahead in the count, but now incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez appears to be in the lead. One magistrate on the electoral tribunal flagged “serious doubts” about the process.
Japan set the date for the emperor’s abdication. A panel chaired by prime minister Shinzo Abe agreed that 83-year-old emperor Akihito’s planned abdication will take place on April 30, 2019, according to public broadcaster NHK. It’s the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in 200 years.
Another powerful quake struck Iran. A shallow earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck near the city of Kerman in the country’s southeast today. Kerman has a population of over 820,000. More than 480 people died last month after a 7.3-magnitude quake struck near Iran’s border with Iraq.
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? The gas-guzzling 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 homes 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.
Meghan Markle will need military training before she walks down the aisle with Prince Harry. It’s standard procedure for anyone marrying into the royal family to prepare for the threat of being taken hostage.
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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