Brexit talks, North Korea on edge, CryptoKitties

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Theresa May enters into key Brexit talks in Brussels. The British prime minister’s lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is aimed at hashing out an agreement on the first phase of the UK’s withdrawal. Key issues include the fate of the Irish border and the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

US-South Korea war games put North Korea on edge. The exercises, which include the largest-ever joint aerial drills by the two nations, start today and may further inflame tensions with Pyongyang. North Korea’s state-run newspaper said over the weekend that the Trump administration was “begging for nuclear war by staging an extremely dangerous nuclear gamble on the Korean peninsula.”

The extradition trial of Indian business magnate Vijay Mallya begins in London. Mallya, who has been living in the UK since March 2016, faces money-laundering charges in India. Known for his lavish lifestyle, Mallya left India after defaulting on over $1 billion in loans made to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

Over the weekend

The US Senate passed the Republican tax bill, 51 to 49. The nearly 500-page bill was rushed through in the early hours of Saturday morning, with last-minute amendments hastily scribbled onto the text in handwriting, in some cases illegibly. The House and Senate now go to a committee to hash out the differences between their two versions of the bill before the president can sign it into law.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced a new virtual currency. Railing against US sanctions, he said the “petro”—backed by the nation’s oil, gas, and mineral wealth—would allow Venezuela “to advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions, and overcome the financial blockade.” Critics scoffed at the plan.

CVS agreed to buy Aetna for $69 billion. Analysts say the deal between the pharmacy chain and the major US insurer could create a new model for the health-care industry, with CVS offering primary-care services and medical follow-ups directly from its drugstores and walk-in clinics. CVS’s nervousness over Amazon possibly disrupting the industry is a key factor behind the deal.

Disney resumed talks with 21st Century Fox. Disney is reportedly interested in scooping up some of Fox’s assets, including its movie studio, some of its US cable channels, and its holdings in Indian broadcaster Star and British TV platform Sky. Comcast is another potential buyer, as are Sony and Verizon.

Donald Trump attacked the FBI. He called the agency a biased institution (paywall) whose reputation for fairness was “in tatters.” That followed Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the agency about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

German police said a foiled bomb plot was an attempt at extortion. The bomb, discovered in the city of Potsdam on Friday, was an apparent effort to extort millions of euros (paywall) from the German postal service.

Quartz obsession interlude

Olivia Goldhill on the flawed science of implicit bias. “The implicit bias narrative also lets us off the hook. We can’t feel guilty or be held to account for racism that isn’t conscious. The forgiving notion of unconscious prejudice has become the go-to explanation for all manner of discrimination… if implicit bias is a weak scapegoat, we must confront the troubling reality that society is still, disturbingly, all too consciously racist and sexist.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

You should talk to your kids about Harvey Weinstein. Answer their questions about sexual harassment now, and they won’t have to do the same for their children in 30 years.

Russia’s 2018 World Cup poster is a sign it sees the tournament as politics. It references the mid-century space race and 1920s constructivist art to send subtle messages about Russian power.

Bitcoin is a frankly terrible currency. But it could still transform the world economy.

Surprising discoveries

Prehistoric women packed a serious punch. The average woman 7,000 years ago was stronger than the ladies on Cambridge University’s elite rowing team are today.

Donald Trump eats fast food in heroic quantities. One chow-down during his campaign involved “two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted,” former aides say.

A Chinese man repainted a road to speed up his commute. He was fined 1,000 yuan ($150) for painting new arrows to streamline traffic that regularly hindered his bus.

A “smart condom” provides data on your most intimate moments. Men can now get stats on their thrusting, endurance, and calories burned—should they really feel the need.

Users of a top cryptocurrency are obsessed with cartoon cats. “CryptoKitties” have sold for thousands of dollars on the ethereum network.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, smart condoms, and road-painting gear to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.