Stephen Hawking dies, May’s Russia reprisals, papal TV vow

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Theresa May discusses reprisals against Russia. They could include visa bans, calls for new sanctions, and crackdowns on Russian funds in the UK. The British leader will go over options with the national security council, following the Kremlin failing to explain why a Russian nerve agent was used to poison a former double agent and his daughter in Salisbury.

A closely watched US congressional is in a dead heat. A Pennsylvania district that’s long been a Republican stronghold, and voted heavily for Trump, could send Democrat Conor Lamb to the House. The special election is considered a bellwether of national sentiment ahead of November’s midterm elections, and Lamb, for his part, has already declared victory.

Adidas and Inditex report full-year and fourth-quarter results. The German sportswear maker is on a tear (paywall), with analysts predicting a 34% increase in full-year operating profit. As for the owner of Zara, investors expect the usual strong performance but worry about the effect of the strong euro against the dollar.

While you were sleeping

Asian markets faltered after Trump fired secretary of state Rex Tillerson. The departure of another moderate—just days after the exit of White House economic advisor Gary Cohn—heightened fears of more protectionist measures. Meanwhile Trump said he was considering tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods, especially in the tech and telecom sectors.

China’s industrial output expanded faster than expected. It rose 7.2% in January-February from the same period a year ago, beating analyst expectations of 6.1%. The economy seems to be keeping its momentum despite authorities cracking down on polluting industries and taking steps to reduce risks in the financial system—but US trade tensions cloud the horizon.

YouTube took on conspiracy theories. Having been pilloried for driving attention to extremist content, the company will add information from Wikipedia to videos on controversial subjects. Linked text boxes will begin appearing on conspiracy-related videos within the next couple of weeks.

Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76. The famed theoretical physicist, whose work greatly contributed to scientists’ understanding of black holes and cosmology, died peacefully in his home in Cambridge. He wrote widely read science books, including A Brief History of Time, and became a pop-culture icon, appearing on The Simpsons and Star Trek.

Quartz obsession interlude

Hanna Kozlowska on how Facebook “turned into a beast” in Myanmar. “Facebook is so prevalent that it essentially functions as the entire internet, and is the main source of information for citizens… Because of that, it’s been easy for ultra-nationalists to use the platform to stoke hatred against the Rohingya minority, who have been targeted by government forces, killed by the thousands, and driven out of the country.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Blockchain can be used to “fight fire with fire.” IMF head Christine Lagarde says regulators can use the technology to address the “peril that comes along with the promise” of cryptocurrencies.

Don’t leave bad jobs off your resume. Being caught in an omission is even worse.

What will replace Android? Competitors are developing their own platforms that work much more smoothly than Google’s confusing mishmash of tools.

Surprising discoveries

Pope Francis promised the Virgin Mary he wouldn’t watch TV. He has kept that promise since 1990.

The wealthy are lining up for “young blood” transfusions. A scientifically dubious trial would charge participants up to $285,000.

Belgian monks are angry at beer scalpers. The Jan Linders supermarket chain has been selling the monks’ Westvleteren brew at a steep markup.

Athletes and celebrities are adopting the Black Panther salute. Tennis players, soccer players, and film stars are using “Wakanda Forever” as a symbol of black excellence.

Bose is moving into augmented reality. The audio company is demonstrating sunglasses packed with sensors and unobtrusive speakers.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Trappist ale, and young blood 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 Alice Truong.