Czech election, Trump’s Davos speech, squircles

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

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

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 address in protest of Trump calling African nations “shithole countries” earlier this month.

India celebrates its 69th Republic Day. The nation’s constitution came into effect on this day in 1950, an occasion celebrated with a grand military parade in New Delhi. Invited guests have included Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, and Barack Obama, but this year it’s the leaders of Southeast Asia, as India tries to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

The US releases its advanced fourth-quarter GDP estimate. Economists expect GDP increased at a 3% annualized rate, after growing at a 3.2% pace the previous quarter. A report on durable goods for December is also due.

While you were sleeping

Trump ordered the firing of Robert Mueller last summer. He backed down when White House counsel Don McGahn refused and threatened to resign, the New York Times reported (paywall). Trump reportedly argued that Mueller, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, had conflicts of interest, including onetime membership at one of Trump’s golf courses.

A hospital fire in South Korea killed over 40 people. Officials are still investigating the cause of a blaze that engulfed Sejong Hospital in the southern city of Miryang, which also injured more than 70 (paywall). It’s the latest in a series of tragedies that have brought into question the nation’s safety standards.

Walmart teamed up with Japan’s largest online retailer. Its joint venture with Rakuten will fulfill grocery-delivery orders placed through Rakuten’s marketplace platform. The venture is another sign Walmart is shaking up its struggling international business—in China it’s similarly partnered with e-commerce giant

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

Dell is considering an IPO. The company, which went private in 2013, is reviewing its strategic options, including going public again. It might also make a deal with VMware, a publicly traded cloud infrastructure company in which it has a majority stake. Dell gained that stake when it bought storage-technology giant EMC for $67 billion in 2016.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lianna Brinded on why the financial world will never have a #MeToo moment. “From the strip clubs brokers take traders to on client nights out to the high-end prostitutes bankers procure for big investors in the bar of a famous London hotel that everyone knows about, women have typically been exchanged like contracts. If a woman does make it into the world, in whatever capacity, she’s expected to dress and look a certain way.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

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

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.

America’s gambit to dominate the oil market is dangerous. The sudden influx of extra resources upsets the energy market and exacerbates climate change (paywall).

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.

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

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 (paywall).

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