Pennsylvania’s special election, Broadcom deal blocked, secret flying taxis

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Pennsylvania’s special election. Voters in the 18th Congressional district will choose who fills the seat left vacant by Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned last year over a sex scandal. The tight race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone will be seen as an indicator of how both parties will fare in the upcoming midterm elections.

The US floats proposals for improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Representatives from Israel and several Arab countries will attend a brainstorming session in Washington, DC. The Palestinian Authority turned down an invitation, having cut contact with the White House following Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

An update on the UK economy. Chancellor Philip Hammond will release economic and public finance forecasts for the year. Growth last year, while sluggish, was higher than government expectations, suggesting the projection for 2018 might be tweaked upward.

While you were sleeping

Trump blocked Broadcom’s attempt to buy Qualcomm. His executive order stopped the hostile takeover by the Singapore-based chipmaker, citing national security concerns. The White House feared China pulling ahead in 5G if Broadcom emphasized short-term profits over R&D at Qualcomm. It would have been the biggest tech deal in history.

US lawmakers ended a Russia probe. Over strong objections from Democrats, Republicans in control of the House Intelligence Committee ended an investigation into the 2016 presidential election, saying they had found no evidence of collusion to influence the outcome of the vote between Russia and the Trump campaign.

China announced the merger of its banking and insurance regulators. The Banking Regulatory Commission and the Insurance Regulatory Commission will be combined, with the aim of reducing risk and closing loopholes in the finance sector. It’s part of a big shake-up of ministries, that will also see the country’s media watchdog—responsible for censorship—merge with the culture ministry.

Microsoft women filed 238 discrimination and harassment complaints in seven years. Women at the tech company filed the internal complaints between 2010 and 2016, according to plaintiffs suing Microsoft for systematically denying pay raises or promotions to women. Microsoft denies it had any such policy.

James Mattis said Taliban elements had expressed interest in talks with Kabul. On an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, the US defense secretary said “there is interest that we’ve picked up from the Taliban side” about ending a war that’s lasted more than 16 years.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kira Bindrim on the bankrupt company that taught teens the art of self-expression. “Perhaps it is time for Claire’s to hang up its hat (likely a pink, sequined beanie). But let us also mourn the potential passing of an American staple, a store that speaks to the best and worst of girlhood-on-the-cusp-of-the-cusp-of-womanhood. Claire’s stores are explosions of emotion and expression in pastel and neon, featuring an array of aesthetic choices that serve as miniature stand-ins for the more sophisticated visual preferences one will form later in life.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Creative freedom breeds jerks. A former Google employee recalls displays of entitlement at a company known for letting workers do what they want.

Pope Francis has failed to deliver on his promises. Five years after he took the reins of the Catholic Church, it looks like his efforts to tackle issues like child abuse have stalled.

Women created the software industry. The first wave of programmers was female, and two women pioneered a widely used early computer language.

Surprising discoveries

Empathy is shaped by DNA. A study of nearly 50,000 people shows some are genetically predisposed to understand the emotions of others.

A shade of purple that changed fashion began as an attempt to fight malaria. William Henry Perkin’s try at lab-made quinine in the 1850s led instead to the first synthetic dye.

Google founder Larry Page has been secretly testing his flying car in New Zealand. The Kitty Hawk startup is aiming to launch an autonomous airborne taxi service (paywall) in the next few years.

A US charity can 3D-print a house in less than a day. New Story wants to build affordable dwellings for people in the developing world.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s joint tour announcement draws inspiration from a classic Senegalese film. Their pose on a motorbike adorned with a bull’s long-horned skull is a direct nod to the poster for 1973’s Touki Bouki.

Correction: In Monday’s Daily Brief we wrote that “Xi Jinping became president for life.” While he is now technically able to rule China for the foreseeable future after the National People’s Congress abolished the two-term limit for presidents, it is not certain he will stay in power until he dies.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, homemade dyes, and iconic African movie posters 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 Jill Petzinger and edited by Lianna Brinded.