Southwest midair fatality, Starbucks racism training, New York mice germs

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Beijing’s latest US trade target: sorghum. A new 179% tariff will take effect on the grain that’s widely used in China for livestock and distilled spirits. The move, affecting about $1 billion of US exports, may be designed to hurt farmers in states like Kansas that are strong supporters of Donald Trump.

China begins naval drills in the Taiwan Strait. The military exercise, the first to use live ammunition in three years, is seen as a warning to independence advocates in Taiwan, and to US politicians seeking closer ties with Taipei.

Cuba begins its shift to post-Castro leadership. The country’s National Assembly will convene as it prepares for a vote, most likely on Thursday, to replace president Raúl Castro, 86, with 57-year-old Miguel Díaz-Canel.

While you were sleeping

A Southwest plane made an emergency landing, with one passenger killed. The flight from New York to Dallas was forced to land in Philadelphia after one engine failed and caught fire (paywall) shortly after takeoff. The fatality, caused by shrapnel, was the first on a US carrier since 2009; seven other passengers suffered minor injuries in an incident documented live on social media.

Starbucks is closing every US store to conduct racial bias training. You’ll need to get your venti latte elsewhere on the afternoon of May 29. The company-wide training session comes after two black men were arrested for loitering at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, prompting widespread protests.

Syria began an assault on the last rebel-held area near Damascus. Yarmouk, the country’s biggest refugee camp for Palestinian refugees, has been under control of the Islamic State for several years. The Syrian army said it began “preparatory shelling” ahead of a full-scale offensive.

Another Cambridge Analytica whistleblower warned of a far larger data breach. Brittany Kaiser, a former employee of the political consulting firm, told UK lawmakers that the company used “a wide range of surveys” to harvest Facebook users’ personal information, including one quiz described as a “sex compass.”

Donald Trump gave his “blessing” for a Korea peace deal. The US president, speaking with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, was asked about reports that North and South Korea would seek an end to decades-long war. “Without us and without me in particular, I guess, they wouldn’t be discussing anything and the Olympics would have been a failure,” the US president said.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Kopf on how much users would pay for Facebook: “Economists set out to measure the value of these free digital products because GDP, the gauge traditionally used to assess the size of the economy, does a terrible job of assessing them. … they asked people if they would prefer $10 or to give up Facebook for a month. The amount offered varied in increments between $1 and $1,000.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

“Advantage blindness” is rampant among powerful people. Denying your privilege runs contrary to the collective good.

It’s time to rekindle the flame with Firefox. Chrome’s original mission has become corrupted by too much time atop the web browser food chain.

Post-Castro Cuba has slim prospects for change. Even with younger leaders, the Community Party’s hardliners are firmly in control (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

An Armageddon-sized asteroid narrowly missed Earth on Sunday. The rock was too small and dark to spot until a few hours before its passage.

Scientists accidentally gave superpowers to a plastic-eating bacteria. The mutated enzyme is remarkably efficient in digesting PET bottles.

African athletes are ghosting from sporting events. At least 13 athletes from Cameroon, Uganda, Rwanda and Sierra Leone absconded from the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

The mice of NYC may be contributing to antibiotic resistance. City rodents are also carrying viruses that could jump between different mammalian species.

Ghana wants mosques to use WhatsApp to call the faithful to prayer. Communicating via loudspeakers adds to the deafening urban din in the capital city of Accra.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, manageable asteroids, and miracle enzymes 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 Susan Howson and Adam Pasick.