Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Tech’s heavy-hitters report their earnings. Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon are all expected to post a rise in earnings, although Wall Street historically tends to overestimate the latter’s fourth-quarter results. Alibaba’s results will indicate if the company’s overseas expansions (paywall) have paid off.
India unveils its 2018 budget. Finance minister Arun Jaitley is presenting Narendra Modi’s last full budget ahead of the 2019 general elections. It’s expected to reflect the nation’s efforts to reduce its deficit, while taxpayers will be looking for tax relief.
CBS discusses a merger with Viacom. CBS and Viacom, both controlled by the Redstone family, split into two separately traded companies in 2006; a proposed merger was called off in 2016. The CBS board could put together a committee today at a meeting to formally explore a potential deal.
Russia’s doping verdict appeals decisions are announced. The Court of Arbitration for Sport will issue a statement from Pyeongchang, South Korea today on the fate of 39 Russian athletes who have been banned from attending this month’s Winter Olympics for doping.
While you were sleeping
Mueller could zero in on White House communications director Hope Hicks. The New York Times reported (paywall) that a former spokesman for Donald Trump’s legal team will tell Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, about concerns that Hicks contemplated obstructing justice to cover up a meeting at Trump Tower where the topic of how to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russia was discussed.
Poland passed a controversial Holocaust bill. The country’s senate approved a bill that would make it illegal to accuse Poles of being complicit in the Holocaust, or describe concentration camps as Polish. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed opposition against the bill, accusing it of an attempt to alter history.
Facebook earnings crushed expectations. The tech giant beat fourth-quarter earnings and revenue, even as it said that people are spending less time on the platform. Mark Zuckerberg said 2017 was a “hard” year for Facebook, but that this year it’s focused on “making sure Facebook isn’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being and for society.”
The US won’t deport 6,000 Syrians back home. The White House said it would extend (paywall) provisional residency to the Syrians, but those who arrived after Aug. 1, 2016 are still subject to potential deportation. The US took in 12,587 Syrian refugees during the government’s 2016 fiscal year but the Trump administration has admitted significantly fewer.
Quartz obsession interlude
Noah Berlatsky on how dictatorships and democracies can feel remarkably similar. “Authoritarianism doesn’t necessarily slam down all at once. It often is a slow erosion of norms—a law enforcement agency corrupted here, the self-censorship of media there. It can sneak up on you. And that’s especially true because authoritarianism is not egalitarian. It doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
A country’s GDP is a deceptive gauge of progress. Measuring wealth better reflects a population’s wellbeing, while GDP doesn’t account for income distribution and extractive effects like pollution.
America’s system is so broken, it’s turning to billionaires for help. The super-wealthy like Jeff Bezos are now in a better position to provide social services than the government.
China has a plan, but the US doesn’t. As the US mouths slogans about its greatness, China is forging ahead (paywall) with the Belt and Road strategy—much as the US once did with the Marshall Plan.
Russia’s 2018 World Cup fields are under threat from locusts. Agricultural official Pyotr Chekmarev called it a potential “global scandal.”
Chinese women are spending millions of dollars on virtual boyfriends. In the mobile game Love and Producer, women can have four virtual lovers with superpowers at the same time.
Sweets are integral to India’s budget. The civil servants who have been in hiding since Jan. 20 to prepare for the budget got a special ceremonial dessert before they hunkered down for the next 10 days.
Theresa May has an educational gift for Xi Jinping. The British prime minister will present a boxset of Blue Planet to the Chinese president to remind Beijing to fight pollution, complete with a special message from David Attenborough.
Good drones could go after bad drones at the Winter Olympics. Organizers in Pyeongchang are worried that unmanned aerial vehicles could disrupt the event and are planning accordingly.
Correction: Yesterday we said the coincidence of a super moon, blue moon, and lunar eclipse had not occurred for more than 150 years. In fact, it has not been seen over the Western Hemisphere in that timespan.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, good drones, and marine documentaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.