Haspel confirmed, Kushner-Qatari deal, $500,000 whiskey

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Britain’s royal wedding. The nuptials of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will take place on May 19 at 12pm BST with much fanfare—though 66% of Brits say they don’t care that much about the event.

The EU makes a last-ditch effort to block Trump’s Iran sanctions. The European Commission plans to activate a statute on Friday that would punish any EU company that curtails its business in Iran due to US sanctions.

Venezuela holds a presidential election amid a worsening crisis. Autocratic leader Nicolás Maduro is widely expected to be re-elected on Sunday after the opposition coalition opted to boycott the contest, saying the vote is rigged.

While you were sleeping

China approved the sale of Toshiba’s semiconductor business. The long-awaited clearance of the buyout by investors led by US-based Bain Capital was seen as a signal of easing trade tensions, following Donald Trump’s change of heart on Chinese tech firm ZTE.

The Senate approved Gina Haspel as the first female director of the CIA. The veteran intelligence officer, who faced heavy criticism for overseeing harsh interrogation techniques, assured lawmakers that she would never again condone such programs. She also pledged to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump administration.

Trump’s in-laws are close to a massive deal with a Qatari-backed property firm. Kushner Companies, the real estate firm owned by Jared Kushner’s family, is in talks with Brookfield Properties to bail out a troubled Manhattan skyscraper (paywall), the New York Times reports. The Qatari sovereign wealth fund is a major investor in Brookfield.

An eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano sent ash 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) into the sky. Authorities warned that the steam-fuelled blast could set the stage for a string of strong explosions. Some residents were warned to take shelter against ash fallout and a spike in poisonous sulfur dioxide gas.

Quartz Obsession interlude

Olivia Goldhill and Dan Kopf on the dearth of female corporate leaders: “Quartz analyzed 1,500 of the largest public companies from 27 countries worldwide and found out just how badly companies around the world are doing when it comes to empowering women … more than 95% of companies have majority male management.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Tech companies are losing money by design. From MoviePass to Uber, companies use investor cash to subsidize massive losses (paywall), in the hopes of somehow becoming profitable later.

John Bolton is pushing all the wrong buttons in North Korea. The White House’s resident warmonger may be intentionally sabotaging peace talks.

Time is an illusion. Chronology and continuity are just a story we tell ourselves to make sense of existence.

Surprising discoveries

Bitcoin is on track to consume 0.5% of the world’s electricity this year. The energy footprint for mining cryptocurrencies is doubling every six months.

US security regulators created a parody cryptocurrency. The SEC’s HoweyCoins ICO is an elaborate warning against scammers.

The UK may sell “porn passes” at newsstands. The government’s new guidelines could involve selling a 16-digit code to adults with a photo ID.

A prison research project may finally tell us if salt is unhealthy. The study plans to use inmates as guinea pigs for low-sodium diets.

Two bottles of Scotch could be auctioned for more than $1 million this weekend. The 60-year-old bottles (paywall) of 1926 Macallan could go for as much as $573,000 apiece in Hong Kong.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, salt, and scotch to hi@qz.com. 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 McKinley Noble and Adam Pasick.