Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The EU considers adding new members. A European Commission paper to be published today will map out membership (paywall) for six western Balkan countries in the bloc by 2025, among them Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker pledged in September to expand the union after Britain leaves.
SpaceX launches the world’s most powerful rocket. The Falcon Heavy will lift off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center between 1:30pm and 4pm ET. The test flight—capable of carrying a large robot or a partial human-exploration mission to Mars—will instead carry a Tesla Roadster.
Mike Pence arrives in Japan. The US vice president’s three-day visit will focus on the allies’ security measures in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threats. He’s expected to meet with prime minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday and later head to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
While you were sleeping
The US stock plunge continued fueling a global sell-off. After the Dow declined 4.6% yesterday (Feb. 5) and the Nasdaq and S&P 500 also fell, drops were seen in Asia-Pacific nations today (Feb. 6). Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell more than 5%, while South Korea’s Kospi and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 were each down more than 3%. S&P 500 futures also fell, suggesting more pain is in store. Bitcoin continued its fall as well.
Lululemon’s CEO abruptly resigned. Laurent Potdevin, on the job since 2014, also resigned his position as a board member. The company said it “expects all employees to exemplify the highest levels of integrity and respect for one another, and Mr. Potdevin fell short of these standards of conduct.” It offered no details on how he did so.
Singapore and Malaysia announced a stock-trading link. By connecting Bursa Malaysia and the Singapore Exchange by year’s end, it will help lower trading costs and encourage cross-border investment, authorities from the neighboring countries said. Also close to being finalized: a project to build a high-speed rail line between the two nations.
Australia’s central bank held rates steady. The Reserve Bank of Australia left the cash rate on hold at 1.5%, saying consumer spending remains a concern even as business conditions were positive. It noted that inflation is below 2% but is expected to improve as the economy strengthens.
Thai authorities warned a rights group not to hold a news conference. Police said it could breach security laws and constitute an illegal assembly. The Democracy Restoration Group had planned to call upon the junta ruling the country to keep its earlier promise of holding a general election this year—it now looks likely to be pushed back to next year.
Quartz obsession interlude
Joon Ian Wong and John Detrixhe on bitcoin’s sketchy foundations. “Some people think bitcoin’s spectacular price rise last year was manipulated by a cryptotoken called Tether that’s supposed to be pegged to the US dollar. Now, an anonymous report answers the question: What would bitcoin be worth without Tether? The answer: around $4,500.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Cape Town’s water crisis is caused primarily by politics, not climate change. A feud between the ruling African National Congress and the minority Democratic Alliance is to blame.
AI makes politics hackable. The coming era of fake news video (paywall) could undermine democracy.
Angela Merkel is not a climate angel. The German chancellor’s environmental do-goodery is based more on fairytale than fact.
Researchers used lasers to find a Mayan megalopolis. Using the same lidar scanners as autonomous cars, they found more than 60,000 houses, palaces, and highways in northern Guatemala.
Facebook is battling anti-Black Panther plots. The company shut down a group of racist trolls that was using bots to generate low Rotten Tomatoes scores.
Your friend’s brain processes the world the same way as yours. Neuroscientists used fMRI scans to find that the closer the friends, the more similar their neural responses.
Birds of paradise have feathers that act like black holes. Their nuanced structures trap the tiniest iotas of light to capture female attention.
A pet crayfish learned how to clone itself. The marbled crayfish is now an invasive species threatening ecosystems around the world.
Correction: Yesterday’s Daily Brief incorrectly stated that Greece claims the country of Macedonia as part of its territory; instead, it has a northern region called Macedonia.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lidar revelations, and genuine Black Panther reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.