Czech election, Patrick Brown’s resignation, squircles

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Trump speaks at Davos. In a heavily anticipated speech today, the US president is expected to explain why his “America First” agenda is good for the world. A number of conference attendees plan to walk out during the speech in protest of Trump calling African nations “shithole countries” earlier this month.

Tension rises over Australia’s national day. For Aboriginals, Jan. 26 is not a day for celebration but rather a reminder of the dispossession, violence, and loss that they faced under colonial rule. Calls to change the date of Australia Day have grown louder but have also received significant pushback, including from prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Czechs vote for their next president. Incumbent Miloš Zeman, the populist pick that some have likened to Central Europe’s version of Trump, will face a tough run-off against pro-western centrist Jiří Drahoš. Opinion polls show Drahoš with a slight edge over Zeman heading into the election, but the race is still too close to call.

While you were sleeping

Canadian politician Patrick Brown resigned following sexual harassment allegations. Canadian TV network CTV revealed that the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party allegedly made sexual advances toward two women—one a minor—in his home on separate occasions. Brown insisted on his innocence and said he’ll maintain his role as a member of provincial parliament for Ontario’s Simcoe North electoral district.

Trump talked up the dollar. The US president said he wanted to see “a strong dollar,” contradicting comments made by treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin a day earlier. In a meeting with Theresa May, Trump also denied having strained relations with the UK, calling tensions a “false rumor” (paywall) and reiterating his “tremendous respect” for May.

The US FDA rejected Philip Morris’s tobacco device claims. A review panel concluded that the tobacco company has yet to show evidence that its iQOS product—a pen-like device that heats rather than burns tobacco—is less harmful than cigarettes. The decision bars iQOS sales in the US, despite its 4 million worldwide users.

Iran stopped harassing US navy ships. For two years, Iran’s “fast ships”—armed with .50 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers—darted toward US vessels (paywall) and sometimes blinded American crews with spotlights as they passed through the Persian Gulf. US military officials said the behavior ceased five months ago, but they’re not sure why.

Google added a new feature for muting “reminder ads.” The advertisements that follow users everywhere after they’ve viewed a product can be muted for 90 days—long enough to extend beyond their typical expiration date. The feature appears in settings and will sync across all devices where users are logged into the same Google account.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lianna Brinded on why the financial world and big business will never have a #MeToo moment: “Yes, Hollywood moguls are powerful in one way, but they don’t run banks, they don’t give financing to infrastructure projects, they aren’t able to take away your house, they aren’t players in global trade, and they don’t have the ability to manipulate the public into buying or not buying your goods.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s cloned monkeys are a power play. The macaques’ names, Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, are a reference to China’s heyday as the world’s pound-for-pound greatest superpower.

Machine learning could make work life worse. AI-driven technology just leads to humans making more serious mistakes.

America’s gambit to dominate the oil market could be dangerous. The sudden influx of extra resources (paywall) could upset the energy market and exacerbate climate change.

Surprising discoveries

The flu can stop your heart. Scientists have concluded the influenza virus can actually increase your risk of having a heart attack by a factor of six.

There are hidden levels to the iPhone X design. The “squircle”—an incredibly hard-to-spot shape—sets the device apart from a sea of competitors and copycats.

Asking for your date’s surname is rude. Last names can often be the final barrier (paywall) between relative anonymity and someone learning everything about you.

50 Cent is an accidental bitcoin millionaire. The hip-hop icon completely forgot that his 2014 album Animal Ambition raked in a whopping 700 bitcoins, now worth roughly $7.7 million dollars.

Placebos are more effective if they’re pricey. Researchers discovered that brains respond favorably to fake medicine when they think it’s expensive—no matter what’s actually in it.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, last names, and squircles to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.