Lunar New Year, US school shooting, gorilla dating

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

China shuts down for the Lunar New Year holiday. Officials are warning of dangerous air pollution levels due to fireworks and unfavorable weather conditions during the celebrations. Investors are also pulling funds out of the stock market and into less risky assets before markets close on Thursday afternoon, the day before the new year officially begins.

Iran’s president visits India… Hassan Rouhani will seek billions of dollars in Indian investment. India has been hesitant to expand its business ties with Tehran as US president Donald Trump threatens to end the Iran nuclear deal.

…And Rex Tillerson goes to Turkey. The US secretary of state’s visit comes at a fraught moment, as Turkish forces battle Kurds in Syria who are fighting alongside US special forces. Turkey’s president has vowed to “bury” those who collaborate with those he deems as terrorists.

Mitt Romney could announce his Senate run. The former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate plans to run for office in Utah. Conservatives hope that Romney—who is likely to be elected in the Mormon-heavy state—could be a powerful Republican voice in countering Trump.

While you were sleeping

Another school shooting took place in the US. At least 17 students died in a high school in Parkland, Florida—the 18th school shooting in the US this year. The gunman was identified as a 19-year-old former student.

South African president Jacob Zuma resigned. The embattled leader ceded to demands from the ruling African National Congress that he step down in the face of mounting corruption allegations. “No life should be lost in my name, and also the ANC should never be divided in my name,” Zuma said.

A US regulator backed SpaceX’s plan for satellite internet service. Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai urged the approval of an application by Elon Musk’s rocket company to offer broadband access in the United States and around the world.

Morgan Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe’s most tenacious rival, died of cancer. The face of Zimbabwe’s opposition was one of the few politicians who stood up to the long-time dictator. In the wake of Mugabe’s ouster, Tsvangirai’s death will certainly weaken an already struggling opposition movement.

Quartz obsession interlude

Eshe Nelson on investing in companies that promote gender equality. “A demand for tangible action to make gender equality a reality is sweeping across many industries. In finance, one of the steps in this direction has been the recent creation of gender equality exchange-traded funds. These give investors the chance to actively invest in companies that champion equality.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Knee-jerk cynicism is a failure of critical reasoning. If science and humanism have solved the world’s problems before, they can again solve the problems we face today.

Fear is good for stock markets. A healthy dose of volatility is the only thing that can shake up the US market’s longtime complacency (paywall).

PhD students need to be trained as thinkers. Doctoral programs are churning out able specialists, but are failing to produce the creative problem-solvers society needs.

Surprising discoveries

Beijing’s elite prison is running out of cells. Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive means Qincheng prison can’t accomodate family visits over the Lunar New Year.

Strands of George Washington’s hair were found in a book. The locks—a common keepsake in Washington’s era—were hiding in a 1793 almanac.

Tech giants are battling over diversity “trade secrets.” IBM is suing an executive, formerly in charge of creating a more diverse workforce, who left to work for Microsoft.

There’s a dating site for gorillas. It uses complex algorithms and is now a key to survival (paywall) for the critically endangered animals.

A New York developer has to pay $6.7 million for erasing graffiti. 5Pointz, a space in Queens known as the “United Nations of graffiti,” was whitewashed, bulldozed, and turned into luxury condos.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, protected graffiti, and spare prison-cells to 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 Isabella Steger and Alice Truong.