Mnuchin visits China, Sprint hearts T-Mobile, gum-filled Oreos

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Mr. Mnuchin goes to Beijing. US president Donald Trump is dispatching Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and a team of economic advisers to China this week, to develop the framework for a mutually agreeable trade deal. Analysts are hoping the talks also delay import tariffs the two countries have threatened on each other’s goods.

Nigeria’s president meets with Trump. Trump and president Buhari are expected to discuss strategies for combating terrorism, promoting economic growth, and building on Nigeria’s role as a leader in West Africa.

A busy week for health earnings. Botox-maker Allergan is expected to report a smaller loss on Monday. Merck’s results (Tuesday) come after successful tests of Keytruda, a new cancer medication, and investors will be curious about the fate of the consumer healthcare division at Pfizer (also Tuesday). Aetna, CVS, and Teva also report this week.

Over the weekend

North Korea vowed to ditch its nukes. Kim Jong-un told South Korean president Moon Jae-in (paywall) that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the US promises not to invade North Korea, and to officially end the Korean War. Skeptics warn that North Korea has promised to denuclearize in the past, only to later renege.

Sprint and T-Mobile just can’t quit each other. The wireless carriers announced plans for a $26 billion, all-stock merger (paywall), marking their third attempt to join forces. A combined Sprint/T-Mobile would be called T-Mobile, and led by T-Mobile CEO John Legere. It would have nearly 100 million cellphone customers, on par with Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

Blue Origin launched its first rocket of 2018. The Jeff Bezos-founded company launched the reusable New Shepard rocket to the edge of space for the eighth time. The rocket was carrying a space capsule equipped with a dummy (“Mannequin Skywalker”) and a handful of scientific experiments. Both capsule and booster returned to the ground safely.

The British toddler at the center of a tragic legal battle passed away. Alfie Evans, who spent a year in a semi-vegetative state, died six days after having his life support withdrawn. Evans’ parents lost multiple legal challenges to a court ruling that allowed the hospital to remove ventilation, in a case that caught the attention of the US president and the Pope.

Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War made history. The penultimate installment of the current chapter of Marvel’s sprawling superhero universe brought in $630 million in worldwide box-office returns in its opening weekend—more than any movie ever. The film’s April 27 release date is part of a trend toward starting the superhero-blockbuster season earlier each year.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenny Anderson on the college making liberal arts fit the future of work. “Clayton Spencer has been head of Bates, a small college in Lewiston, Maine, founded by abolitionists, since 2012. Since she arrived, she’s made it a priority to embed the idea of ‘purposeful work’—broadly defined as work that both has personal meaning and societal relevance—into as many aspects of college life as possible.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Users aren’t Facebook’s product. If anything, the tech giant’s mistake with Cambridge Analytica was failing to treat user data as a valuable product.

The US doesn’t understand China’s motives. China is not seeking to subvert or supplant the “liberal international order” the way the Soviet Union did.

The Sprint/T-Mobile deal has little going for it. Sprint, known for poor management and poor service, has seen its share price drop 30% in the past year.

Surprising discoveries

Genes might play a role in how languages evolve. A gene called DCDC2, which influences how sounds are processed by the brain, may be a factor in a language’s development over millennia.

The only trial run of the 2020 US Census is taking place in Rhode Island. Three other trials, meant to test new digital equipment and counting methodologies in different conditions (paywall), were canceled due to lack of funding.

Half of a French museum’s art turned out to be fake. The Étienne Terrus museum in Elne discovered that 82 works originally attributed to the artist were not painted by him.

American judges love Jane Austen. Since 1978, Austen’s works have been invoked 27 times in US legal decisions, often as commentary on the intricacies of relationships.

Kraft once made an Oreo filled with gum. The chocolate-and-chewing-gum sandwich cookie, created in a research lab for Kraft’s Chinese market, never made it to shelves.  

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, denuclearization promises, and Jane Austen quotes 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 Kira Bindrim.