Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
North Korea holds a military parade. Pyongyang only recently decided to hold a celebration of the founding of its army on the day before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Some see the move as an act of defiance amid a thaw in relations between the two countries.
Japanese companies meet Theresa May. Representatives from companies including Nomura and Nissan will meet the British prime minister to seek updates on how Brexit will affect their businesses. Japanese car makers have major manufacturing operations in the UK, while many Japanese drug companies have set up European bases there.
The UK’s central bank meets. The Bank of England is expected to hold rates steady and signal it will raise them up to three times over the next several years. But the future of UK monetary policy ultimately depends on the path of Brexit (paywall).
Twitter reports earnings. Investors will be focusing on Twitter’s user metrics following recent attempts to clamp down on the spread of fake information on the platform, and a New York Times investigation exposing the widespread buying of fake accounts to boost influence.
While you were sleeping
The US Senate passed a sweeping budget deal. It adds some $400 billion in federal spending over the next two years, with another $160 billion going to defense programs, and $80 billion to disaster relief. But the bipartisan measure may still not pass in the Republican-led House of Representatives, despite the risk of another government shutdown.
The death toll from an earthquake in Taiwan rose to 9. Rescue workers in the eastern city of Hualien searched for survivors in an apartment block in serious danger of collapsing, where dozens remain missing. Aftershocks also continued to rattle the city, following Tuesday’s magnitude-6.4 quake.
Bermuda became the first territory in the world to repeal same-sex marriage. The governor of the British island territory, John Rankin, said he wanted to balance conservative views on marriage equality. A court ruling legalized same-sex marriage in Bermuda in May 2017.
SoftBank is in talks to buy a stake in Swiss Re. The Japanese tech conglomerate is reportedly considering buying a one-third stake in the Zurich-based reinsurer for up to $10 billion. Swiss Re’s hefty cash flow could help Softbank finance its global acquisition binge.
Quartz obsession interlude
Dave Gershgorn on Google’s powerful AI tools that were horribly misused. “Anyone can download AI software and use it for anything they have the data to create. That means everything from faking political speeches (with help from the cadre of available voice-imitating AI) to generating fake revenge porn. All digital media is a series of ones and zeroes, and artificial intelligence is proving itself proficient at artfully arranging them to generate things that never happened.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Donald Trump’s market commentary is accidentally astute. He’s finally reckoning with an important fact: The stock market is not the economy.
Journalists should work to fix the gender imbalance in their stories. Not quoting more female experts is to suggest that the status quo, in which men are overrepresented, is one in which the best sources are already being found.
The global fishing industry defies economic logic. Government subsidies are propping up a deeply unprofitable and destructive business.
The first Britons had dark skin, blue eyes, and curly hair. A new DNA analysis is shedding light on a 10,000-year-old skeleton known as “Cheddar Man.”
Unicef is recruiting gamers to mine cryptocurrencies. Proceeds from newly generated Ethereum will aid Syrian children displaced by civil war.
Squishing water with diamond anvils produces “superionic ice.” The opaque water formed into hexagonal crystals is about 60% denser than normal ice.
Male Uber drivers outearn women, mostly because they drive faster. The 7% gap can also be traced to more experience on the job and driving more during “surge” periods.
This will be the most African Winter Olympics ever. A record 13 athletes from eight countries— Eritrea, Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco, Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa, and Togo—will participate.
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