Russia’s election, bridge collapse, 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. Vladimir Putin is 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 need to build economic ties, fight terrorism, and enforce North Korea sanctions. Cambodian-Australians are expected to protest the abusive rule of Cambodia’s Hun Sen, who has threatened them: “I can use violence against you.”

The US releases key economic data today. Analysts expect home-construction starts declined last month (paywall), while industrial production should make up some lost ground from January. The University of Michigan’s widely followed consumer sentiment survey, also out today, is expected to stay healthy.

While you were sleeping

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).

America’s main business lobby warned Trump against hitting China with big tariffs. US Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue said the hefty duties Trump is considering would wipe out much of the windfall families are receiving from tax cuts, and could spark a trade war with “serious consequences for US economic growth and job creation.”

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

Trump is ready to oust his national security adviser. The US president plans to remove H.R. McMaster, albeit not immediately, and is actively discussing possible replacements, reported the Washington Post (paywall). The news follows Trump firing secretary of state Rex Tillerson by tweet earlier this week.

The US accused Iran of trying to sway Iraq’s elections. Defense secretary Jim Mattis said Tehran is sending “not an insignificant amount of money” to Iraq to sway candidates and votes, among other destabilizing acts in the region. He added that Iran is supporting fighters in Syria and rebels in Yemen, where it’s testing advanced weapons off the coast.

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. The lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird 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 paying appropriate tax amounts instead of making pittance donations.

Surprising discoveries

A plane sprinkled gold and diamonds over Russia. The aircraft flew for 16 miles (26 km) with a faulty door, scattering $368 million in cargo.

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

The Amazon could lose half its species in this century. More than 60% of its plant species and almost half of its 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.

China’s top-grossing documentary of all time is about how great Xi Jinping is. Mandatory screenings may have played a big part in the success of Amazing China.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, endangered species, and spare computers 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.