Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Australia’s central bank keeps it steady. The Reserve Bank of Australia will most likely keep rates at a record low of 1.5% because of weak wage growth and high consumer debt levels. The RBA’s decision could make the country less attractive to international investors.
The International Olympic Committee rules on a possible Russia ban. The IOC will consider evidence of widespread doping at the 2014 Sochi games, just two months ahead of the 2018 games in South Korea. Last week, an IOC disciplinary commission slapped more than 20 lifetime bans (paywall) on Russian athletes and revoked 11 medals.
Turkey’s prime minister visits South Korea. Binali Yildirim will arrive with a 60-person delegation of senior government officials, lawmakers, and business leaders, and meet with Lee Nak-yon, South Korea’s prime minister. The two countries established a “strategic partnership” in 2012.
While you were sleeping
Yemen’s ex-president was assassinated. Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed in a roadside attack by Houthi militia fighters, days after switching sides in Yemen’s civil war to ally his faction with the Saudi-backed coalition. His death represents a new phase in the bitter conflict, with his supporters fighting the Houthis in the streets of the capital, Sanaa.
Theresa May failed to clinch a post-Brexit trade deal. The UK prime minister suffered a last-minute reversal after her allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party refused to accept a compromise about the border with the Republic of Ireland. May is under pressure to reach a deal while also maintaining her fragile coalition.
Facebook launched a messaging app for kids. The ad-free service allows children under 13, who are technically banned from the social network, to chat via text and video with parental supervision of their contact lists. Facebook promised to collect “minimal data” about its young users.
Broadcom moved forward with its hostile bid for Qualcomm. The chipmaker nominated nine men and two women to Qualcomm’s board, subject to a shareholder vote in March. Last month, Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s $103 billion bid, calling it grossly undervalued.
Donald Trump slashed the size of a mineral-rich national park. Bears Ears Monument in Utah will be reduced by around two million acres (paywall), or about 85%, reversing a move by Barack Obama. The move will likely trigger legal battles from conservationists and native American groups, who oppose expanded logging, mining, and oil and gas extraction.
Quartz obsession interlude
Akshat Rathi on the only technology that could reverse our failing fight against climate change: “For decades, certain scientists have hoped carbon-capture technologies, deployed at large scales, could save humanity from catastrophic climate change by providing a bridge to a future in which we’ll have enough capacity to create, store, and supply all the world’s energy from only renewable sources.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Is Robert Mueller too late? The US special counsel may find a smoking gun against Donald Trump, but a “national nightmare of creeping authoritarianism” may render it moot.
Smartphones are making us less productive. Interruptions reduce time spent working, and distractions make us more likely to “self-interrupt” in the future.
Big banks should issue cryptocurrencies. They replicate the anonymity of cash on a digital scale.
Russia is selling a Vladimir Putin pin-up calendar. It features photos of the president riding motorcycles and petting leopards.
Amazon added 75,000 robots in 2017. Meanwhile, human jobs in the US retail industry dropped by 170,000.
A Chinese zoo has an inflatable animal exhibit. Visitors were disappointed by a flock of blow-up penguins.
Japanese industries are on hold until the next emperor is announced. Calendar, diary, and fortune-telling businesses are waiting until the name of the new Imperial era is revealed.
20% of people can “hear” a silent GIF. A small portion of the population that experiences synesthesia may hear a thudding noise while watching this.
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