Russia’s election, virtual makeup, 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.

Tiffany reports sparkling earnings. Investors are hoping the luxury jewelry retailer will continue its positive earnings streak on Friday. A robust holiday season is likely to help; the company previously said sales were up 8% over Christmas. The retailer also opened a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-themed café at its flagship Manhattan store in November.

The US releases key economic data. Home-construction starts probably declined last month (paywall), while industrial production is expected to make up some lost ground from January. The University of Michigan’s widely followed consumer sentiment survey, also out today, is forecast to remain upbeat.

While you were sleeping

The UK considered breaking up the Big Four. The head of the country’s financial regulator called for a probe into whether the firms—Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC—should be forced to spin off their audit arms (paywall). These groups audit all but nine of the UK’s 350 largest listed firms, but make most of their fees from consulting services.

French cosmetics stalwart L’Oreal bought beauty-tech company ModiFace. The Canadian company is a leader in AR-powered virtual makeup try-ons, with its tech powering the apps of major beauty retailers like Sephora. The move is seen as a bid to buttress L’Oreal’s digital offerings, and reflects the popularity of online beauty tutorials.

American investors grew suspicious of Saudi Aramco’s mega IPO. The oil giant’s offering has been delayed in part because US investors have been pushing back on the $2 trillion valuation, according to Bloomberg. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is scheduled to go to the White House on March 20.

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 via tweet earlier this week.

Donald Trump, Jr. and his wife Vanessa filed for divorce. The pair—who have five children together and have been married for 12 years—issued a joint statement citing their “tremendous respect” for one another, and asking for privacy.

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… 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 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 rainforest 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, audit tenders, and makeup advice 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 Rosie Spinks and John Detrixhe and edited by Jason Karaian.