China warns on trade war, Trump Jr. shills in India, Sexy curlers

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial India trip. The US president’s son alarmed ethics watchdogs with front-page ads in three major Indian newspapers offering dinner with Don Jr. to anyone investing in a Trump-branded property by Feb. 20. He’ll attend a business summit with prime minister Narendra Modi later in the week.

Europe’s financial future. European finance ministers meet in Brussels today to discuss the economy, tap a new vice president for the European Central Bank, and assess Greek debt relief following a bond offering earlier this month.

Singapore’s spending plans. The country’s finance minister, Heng Swee Keat, will announce the government’s budget after Singapore’s economy turned in the highest rate of growth since 2014.

US markets are closed Feb. 19 for the President’s Day holiday. 

News from over the weekend

Donald Trump raged over Russia indictments. In a series of angry morning tweets, the US president blamed his predecessor Barack Obama not stopping Russian interference. He also lined up with a Facebook executive to give a misleading account of Mueller’s indictments.

China warned the US on metal tariffs. A trade official said US allegations of unfair practices in the steel and aluminum trade are unfounded, and that it would challenge any new trade restrictions.

Benjamin Netanyahu brandished wreckage. The Israeli prime minister said the debris came from an Iranian drone shot down in Israel and warned of possible retaliation; such props have a mixed history at best.

An Iranian plane crash killed sixty-six passengers. Rescuers struggled to reach the wreckage of a domestic flight operated by Aseman Airlines amid fog and heavy snow. It is the fourth major Iranian air disaster since 2009, with international sanctions limiting access to replacement parts.

US students spoke out about gun safety. Survivors of a shooting that killed seventeen at a Florida elementary school called for new restrictions on weapons purchases and a national march on Washington next month.

Quartz obsession interlude

Ana Campoy and  Youyou Zhou on the surprise awaiting conservative Californians who flee to Texas: “The Lone Star state is the antithesis of California. It’s solidly Republican. Its state leaders are aggressively pro-business, anti-tax, anti-immigration, anti-abortion and pro-guns…But conservatives fleeing California will find that, despite its right-wing bent, the Lone Star State is increasingly plagued with the same problems they are trying to leave behind. That’s because many of their pet peeves, from ballooning home prices to overstretched schools, have more to do with exuberant urban growth than politics.” Read more.

Matters of debate

It’s not just Russia—the US meddles in elections, too. Bags of cash, fake news, and borrowed identities played a role in US intelligence agencies’ efforts to sway elections around the world.

Black Panther isn’t radical at all.  The Marvel blockbuster devalues black American men.

Delaware should be the first target in the fight against human trafficking. The tiny state’s corporate secrecy laws make it almost impossible to find out who profits from selling sex workers.

Surprising Discoveries

Olympic curlers rebrand as sexy. Seen as the paunchy couch potatoes of the sporting world, male curlers are flexing their guns in a nude calendar.

Cameroon’s president-for-life has spent 15% of his time in office abroad. Paul Biya’s mysterious foreign trips took up five and a half of his 35 years as president, many of them to a five-star Geneva hotel.

China wants the US to crack down on thumb thief. A 24 year-old American who snapped a thumb off an ancient Chinese statue on loan to a US museum may get off with a slap on the wrist.

Flatulence forces emergency landing. A Transavia flight was forced to land and summon the police when a gassy passenger led to an in-flight fight.

Apple sold more watches than Switzerland. In the final quarter of 2017, the tech company sold 8 million watches, versus 6.8 million from the mountainous traditional home of high-end horology.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stolen terracotta digits and sexy curling calendars to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.