UK-Russia standoff, Stephen Hawking dies, Belgian beer scalpers

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Britain’s showdown with Russia. Russia ignored the UK prime minister’s midnight deadline to explain how a Soviet-era nerve toxin was used to poison a former double agent and his daughter. Today, Theresa May will go over the options for reprisals against Russia with the National Security Council—they could include new sanctions or visa bans.

A look at last month’s retail sales. The Commerce Department releases retail sales (paywall) for February, which analysts expect to tick up slightly after a drop in January,

A US congressional race is in a dead heat. A Pennsylvania district that’s long been a Republican stronghold could send Democrat Conor Lamb to the House. The race was too close to call (paywall) early Wednesday morning, but several thousand absentee ballots remained uncounted, so a winner likely won’t be called till later today. Lamb, for his part, has already declared victory.

While you were sleeping

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 popular science books, including A Brief History of Time, and became a pop-culture icon, appearing on The Simpsons and Star Trek.

YouTube moved to combat 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.

Adidas sprinted ahead. The German sportswear company said revenue jumped 19% in the fourth quarter. Adidas’s retro sneakers have been a hit with consumers and helped the company grab market share off Nike. It predicts double-digit revenue growth for the year ahead too, thanks to “exceptional growth” in China and a robust US economy.

Walmart upped the ante with Amazon. The supermarket chain is planning to expand its grocery delivery business to 800 stores across in 100 cities by the end of the year— reaching 40% of US households. It’s partnering with Uber and others, as well as using Jet, the online retailer it bought in 2016.

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.

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

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

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.

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 speakers.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, holy ale, and intrusive sunglasses 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.