Russia’s presidential election, new US sanctions, scattered diamonds

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Russia elects its president. Retaliatory measures from the UK over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal—and from the US, over 2016 election meddling—may motivate even more voters to visit the polls Sunday to support incumbent Vladimir Putin. He’s likely to win either way.

Leaders convene for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. For the first time, Australia will host the gathering and is likely to stress the importance of building economic ties, fighting terrorism, and enforcing North Korea sanctions. Australian-Cambodians are expected to protest visiting Cambodian leader Hun Sen on his human rights record. The prime minister shot back, “I can use violence against you.”

Key US economic data released Friday. Economists expect (paywall) housing numbers to decline, while February’s industrial production stats should make up some lost ground from January. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey for March will stay healthy, say analysts.

While you were sleeping

The White House put sanctions on Russian agents. In the most aggressive anti-Russian move made by this US administration to date (paywall), Donald Trump targeted government-backed hackers, spies, trolls, and the organizations that attempted to sway the 2016 presidential election. Trump also joined leaders from the UK, France, and Germany in condemning Russia for its alleged part in the Skripal poisoning.

iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy. The communications company owns more than 800 radio stations across the US, and had been struggling to handle the debt it took on after acquiring billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor in 2008. Cumulus, iHeart’s main competitor in the troubled radio industry, filed for bankruptcy several months ago.

HSBC has a startling gender pay gap. The mega-bank has by far the largest discrepancy in pay between men and women—an overall average of 59%—out of all the Britain’s major lenders. The bank blames the gap on male-dominated leadership positions, and pledges to boost women’s share to 30% by 2020.

The Trump Organization was subpoenaed. FBI special counsel Robert Mueller made the first known order to one of the US president’s businesses to turn over documents, some related to Russia. The subpoena, which happened sometime during the past several weeks, indicates that the investigation is broadening in scope (paywall).

At least six were killed in a Florida bridge collapse. The newly built structure provided a walkway over several lanes of traffic for Florida International University students, and trapped both pedestrians and drivers in wreckage when it fell. Emergency crews continue to search for survivors.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Kopf on why so many people around the world are still using cash: “No single country is responsible for the trend…. [Bank for International Settlements] researchers think people were spooked by the 2008 financial crisis. With less trust in banks, people now choose to keep more of their savings in cash.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Atticus Finch was too good to be true. To Kill a Mockingbird’’s hero is either a civil rights hero or a white apologist, depending on whom you ask.

Twitter has tainted public intellectualism. From academics to journalists, 280-character discussions hamstring society’s brightest minds (paywall) and play to trolls.

The ultra-rich don’t know how to pay it forward. Jeff Bezos and his peers would do more for the world by simply paying taxes instead of making pittance donations.

Surprising discoveries

Ghana’s blackboard-savvy tech teacher got real computers. Richard Appiah Akoto’s viral photos resulted in a whirlwind tour and seven computers for his classroom.

A plane sprinkled gold and diamonds over Russia. The aircraft flew for 16 miles with a faulty door, scattering $368 million in cargo.

The Amazon could lose half its species in this century. Under the bleakest scenarios, more than 60% of plant species and 50% of animal species could fall victim to climate change.

There’s no such thing as a “normal” person. There’s “no universally optimal profile” of how a brain functions, which means classic psychiatry can do more harm than good.

A sword-attack victim says his gaming skills saved him. His jealous girlfriend is in custody, but Alex Lovell is thrilled (paywall): “I’ve been preparing my whole life for something like this.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stray diamonds, and endangered species 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 and edited by McKinley Noble and Susan Howson.