Metal tariffs, Trump Jr.’s India trip, 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 before 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, pick a candidate for European Central Bank vice president, 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 for not stopping Russian interference. He also lined up with a Facebook executive to give a misleading account of special counsel Robert 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 Beijing would challenge any new trade restrictions.

Benjamin Netanyahu brandished wreckage. The Israeli prime minister told a security conference 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 likely killed all 65 people on board. Rescuers struggled to reach the wreckage of a domestic flight operated by Aseman Airlines amid fog and heavy snow. Iran has suffered numerous plane crashes over the years, with international sanctions limiting access to replacement parts.

US students spoke out about gun safety. Survivors of a shooting that killed 17 at a Florida high school last week called for new restrictions on weapons purchases and a national march on Washington next month.

Quartz obsession interlude

Preeti Varathan on why white people should watch Black Panther. “Black Panther has an almost entirely black cast and a black director. That’s a gift for black girls and boys everywhere who aren’t used to seeing themselves onscreen—and it’s a gift for non-black people, too… actively encouraging children’s admiration for a person of a different race or identity group, in a respectful way, helps them to thoughtfully respond to and empathize with others.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Live podcast recordings ruin everything that makes podcasts great. They make listening jarring instead of calming, and disrupt quiet moments with grating applause.

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 US state’s corporate secrecy laws make it almost impossible to find out who profits from selling sex workers.

Surprising discoveries

Olympic curlers are being rebranded as sexy. Once seen as the paunchy couch potatoes of the sporting world, male curlers are flexing their guns (paywall) in a racy 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 a thumb thief. A 24-year-old American who snapped a thumb off an ancient Chinese statue on loan to a US museum may receive a light punishment.

Flatulence forced an emergency landing. A Transavia flight was forced to land and summon the police when a passenger’s gassiness led to an onboard 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 traditional home of high-end horology.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, traditional timepieces, and terra-cotta replacement digits 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 by Steve Mollman and edited by Tripti Lahiri.