UK grocery merger, Sprint hearts T-Mobile, gum-filled Oreos

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Details of a UK grocery-chain merger are revealed. Sainsbury and Asda are in talks to merge, according to Sky News, with announcements from the companies likely today. The tie-up would create the UK’s largest grocery chain, with a bigger market share than Tesco. Competition watchdogs will be watching carefully, and could block a deal.

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. Muhammadu Buhari and his US counterpart 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. 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 health-care division at Pfizer (also Tuesday). Aetna, CVS, and Teva report this week as well.

Over the weekend

North Korea vowed to ditch its nukes. Kim Jong-un told South Korean president Moon Jae-in (paywall) he’d abandon his nuclear weapons if the US agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade. Skeptics warn North Korea has promised to denuclearize before, only to later renege. Kim also vowed to match his country’s time zone to the South’s.

Amber Rudd resigned. The UK home secretary was under pressure over the “Windrush scandal,” which involved authorities’ mistreatment of long-term UK residents wrongly caught up in a government drive to reduce illegal immigration. She was due for a bruising appearance in the House of Commons today, had she not quit yesterday.

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

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

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. It brought in $630 million in worldwide box-office returns in its opening weekend—more than any movie ever—and it hasn’t even been released in China yet. 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 iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy S9 are pretty much the same phone. When choosing between them you’re really buying an ethos, rather than a device that’s categorically better than another.

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.

Ludwig Wittgenstein invented emoji 80 years ago. The philosopher was ahead of his time regarding the intuitive appeal to pictorial communication. 🤔

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, Jane Austen quotes, and genuine Terrus paintings 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 Tripti Lahiri.