Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Asia-Pacific military exercises. Cobra Gold, the annual event co-hosted by Thailand and the United States, will include more than 30 countries this year. With that many participants, there’s plenty of room for diplomatic subtext: The US is expected to send more troops than ever, a sign of closer relations with Thailand. And Myanmar will be there, despite protests over its role in the massacre of Rohingya Muslims last summer.
Trump delivers his 2019 budget. The US president will call for dramatic cuts in domestic spending. But like last year, it will probably just be for show. Congress hasn’t been willing to cut spending and curtail the deficit, which is soaring under the Trump administration.
Jacob Zuma’s fate is sealed. The South African president’s status should be resolved when his party, the African National Congress, meets on Monday. Zuma’s nine-year rule has been mired by corruption, but he has stubbornly clung to power. The party hasn’t exactly moved quickly to settle the issue, either.
Rex Tillerson in the Middle East. The US secretary of state will visit Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey on his five-day trip (paywall). He won’t stop in Israel, but the country looms large over the visit after it attacked Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria and lost one of its F-16’s in the process. Tillerson called Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday to show support.
News from over the weekend
A Russian jet crashed with 71 aboard. All of them were presumed dead. The Saratov Airlines flight fell out of the sky minutes after taking off from Moscow, but the cause of the crash wasn’t immediately clear. Russia has a terrible history of airline safety. Saratov was briefly banned from making international flights a few years ago.
Harvard named a new president. It’s Lawrence Bacow, an economist and lawyer who was formerly president of Tufts and chancellor of MIT. Bacow was serving on the Harvard committee in charge of finding its next leader until he started interviewing for the role himself.
The Olympics were hit by a cyber attack. Suspicion immediately fell on Russia, which is banned from this year’s games because of its doping conspiracy, but Olympic officials wouldn’t reveal any details. They might be trying to avoid a diplomatic incident that would overshadow the more positive news of North and South Korea competing together.
Asma Jahangir died. The human rights activist was 66. Jahangir frequently clashed with the Pakistani government, which jailed her in 1983 and put her under house arrest in 2007.
Quartz obsession interlude
Heather Timmons and Eshe Nelson on deciphering the Trump administration’s views on trade: ”Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda will shrink the US trade deficit and overturn ‘decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies,’ the president promised at last week’s State of the Union address. But translating that rhetoric into concrete trade policy is a thorny task for Trump’s top advisors, who were welcomed at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos for clues to Trump’s administration really wants, and how it plans to manage the world’s biggest economy.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Poor parents in Kenya prefer private schools. New research indicates that many Kenyan parents who struggle financially still refuse to send their children to free public schools because they believe private schools offer a higher quality of education than the nation’s public-school system, which they’ve described as “corrupt” and “dirty.”
Should a self-driving car swerve and kill one person to save five others? That ethical conundrum, otherwise known as the “Trolley Problem,” forms the basis of a series of algorithms that a group of philosophers are creating to see how autonomous vehicles would react in morally precarious situations.
Stop glamorizing Kim Yo Jong. The sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un made social-media waves this week with her “show-stealing” presence at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But maybe it’s best not to romanticize a member of a brutal authoritarian regime.
In the future, your robot babysitter will know when your child has a fever. Researchers created the first self-healing and fully recyclable electronic skin, or “e-skin,” which can mimic the functions and properties of human skin. A robot equipped with e-skin could theoretically sense temperature and pressure changes just as a human can.
Male dogs are at an advantage at the dog show. They’ve won “best in show” at Westminster more than twice as often. That’s because the prime ages for competition in dog shows, three to five years old, are also prime breeding years.
Poor punctuation cost $5 million. A group of delivery truck drivers have settled with their employers over unpaid wages. They claimed that the lack of an Oxford comma in Maine’s overtime laws entitled them to a victory in court, extra pay, and the adoration of grammarians everywhere.
Teens are running for governor in Kansas. Turns out there’s no minimum age to run for office in the US state, a loophole that six high-school students are currently exploiting. They can’t, however, vote for themselves or anyone else.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robot babysitters, and Oxford commas to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Zachary M. Seward and Adam Epstein.