Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Korea and Japan begin talks on disputed “comfort women” deal. Foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha meets her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono to resolve a rift over the 2015 deal regarding Tokyo’s mobilization of Korean women as sex slaves during the imperial era. Seoul has criticized the agreement for being hastily made and failing to acknowledge surviving victims.
A Japanese panda cub makes her public debut. Six-month-old Shan Shan (or Xiang Xiang, in Mandarin) is unveiled at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo as its longest surviving panda in nearly three decades. The cub’s parents arrived from China in 2011, and her birth marks 45 years of stable Sino-Japanese ties.
US tax bill voting kicks off. Republicans in both the House and Senate are hoping to get the $1.5 trillion tax bill on Donald Trump’s desk by Wednesday. While some votes are still up in the air, a pass would make it the biggest tax overhaul in decades.
While you were sleeping
South Korean pop star Kim Jong-hyun died in an apparent suicide. The 27-year-old star, better known as “Jonghyun,” was a member of K-pop group SHINee and one of the most recognizable faces in Korean pop for the last decade. He was found unconscious in his Seoul apartment and pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital.
Twitter rolled out new rules on hate imagery. To crack down on white nationalists and other extremist groups, the platform is now placing warnings on Nazi swastika images, banning them in profile pics, and permanently suspending accounts that promote violence. The company has been criticized in the past for its hands-off approach to harassment on its site.
An Amtrak train derailed in Washington state. More than 70 people were on board as the train traveled a new high-speed route that opened for business Monday. Several automobiles were reportedly crushed as train cars fell off an overpass in what authorities are calling a “mass casualty event.” Fatality and injury counts are not yet known.
South Africa’s ruling party selected its next leader. The ANC party voted for Cyril Ramaphosa, who will most likely become the country’s next president. It was seen as a stinging rebuke of the current president, Jacob Zuma, who had picked his ex-wife as his successor, which had many citizens concerned that the country’s corrupt and patriarchal practices would go unchallenged.
Quartz obsession interlude
Marc Bain on the remarkable enduring cool of the Doc Marten boot: “Kids today are comfortable assembling their eclectic identities by pulling in references and ideas from a variety of places, just as their Instagram feeds do. Fashion today feels less defined by strict categories, such as ‘prep’ or ‘punk.’ As much as pointing to how the brand has grown, and how its image has shifted over the decades, Dr. Martens’ broadening customer base could be seen a symbol of this change as well.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Americans are spending more on stuff we don’t need. The US budget share of non-essential items, like gambling, hairdressers, and Ferraris, reached a 17-year high.
There are hidden benefits to being a woman in tech. You can manipulate male bias, tap into a network of amazing female investors, and turn inappropriate flirting into an investor litmus test.
Disney’s Star Wars trilogy leaned into its dark side. Return of the Jedi might have ended in hope, but The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi trampled on any implied happily-ever-after.
New tech might make bitcoin useful to pay for things. The Lightning Lab is trying to cheapen bitcoin transactions so we can use the currency to pay for things like coffee.
The Vatican uses milk to paint its buildings. An ancient recipe mixes milk from the Pope’s cows with slaked lime and natural pigments.
James Cameron once called Titanic a “$190 million chick flick.” The film that propelled Leomania and won the hearts of a generation of girls was inspired by the director’s love of the ocean.
Coffee is the key to surviving the globe’s collapse. Preppers are counting on the bean’s stimulation to stay alert in the face of exhaustion, headaches, and zombies.
Snow monkeys and sika deer are having sex. Researchers think the behavior, first seen in Japan, could signal a new tradition.
A German banker spent six months counting 1.2 million pennies. A trucker collected the pennies over his 30-year career, and later bequeathed the 2.5-metric-ton inheritance to his family.
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