Putin’s live Q&A, new EU tariffs, overprotected quolls

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Vladimir Putin’s live Q&A. The Russian president will answer questions from citizens in his annual live television call-in show, “Direct Line With Vladimir Putin” (paywall). The event, which is highly staged, has been criticized for being entirely fake.

Shinzo Abe rendezvous with Donald Trump in Washington. The Japanese prime minister is having his seventh one-on-one with Trump to reaffirm Tokyo’s close ties to the US ahead of its summit with North Korea.

Singapore’s foreign minister visits Pyongyang. Vivian Balakrishnan will meet with the president of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly and ceremonial president, Kim Yong Nam, in anticipation of next week’s US-North Korea summit in Singapore.

Canada likely ratifies legal marijuana. Senate bill C-45 will make it the first G20 nation to legalize the drug. All eyes will be on the short- and long-term effects legalization has on the country’s economy, crime levels, and health system.

While you were sleeping

Athenahealth’s chief executive is stepping down. Founder and CEO Jonathan Bush, the nephew of former US president George HW Bush, is stepping down in the wake of verbal and sexual misconduct allegations. The company, which helped digitize the medical profession, is currently exploring a multi-billion dollar sale.

Alice Johnson was granted clemency. Donald Trump will commute the 63-year-old’s sentence—life without parole—for working in a mid-1990s drug trafficking operation in Memphis. The move followed a plea by reality star Kim Kardashian West, and is thought to be part of Jared Kushner’s push for prison reform.

US trade saw a boost. The trade deficit fell to a seven-month low last month as exports rose to a record high, buoyed by shipments of industrial materials and soybeans. The trade gap also dropped to 2.1%, the smallest since September.

The EU will slap tariffs on US imports starting next month. The “tit-for-tat” move is the bloc’s response to Trump’s decision to impose duties on European aluminum and steel. The tariffs will hit a range of products including motorcycles, jeans, and bourbon.

Quartz Obsession interlude

James Chen on how seeing poorly is the norm for China’s young: “…Whilst China’s highly-educated ophthalmologists abound, they are overwhelmingly based in urban centers, unable to reach 42 per cent of the population based in rural areas. Another significant problem … has been a long and deeply-held belief that glasses can be harmful to your sight.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Body positivity is just another advertising gimmick. Brands now point out that many women feel bad about themselves but offer no solutions.

India shouldn’t treat water as private property. Communities could be convinced to share access to groundwater if they’re presented with the facts.

Young AI algorithms need parenting. Corporations should nurture algorithms until it’s clear they’ve learned enough not to go rogue.

Surprising discoveries

Meteorite fragments are in high demand. Treasure hunters are hoping to cash in on the latest space rock to hit China.

Australian quolls were too protected. Raised on a sanctuary island, the small mammals forgot how to avoid toxic toads or fear dingoes.

A man hid seven zoo animals in his apartment. Florida police found box turtles, tortoises, a skink, and a squirrel monkey, but have yet to locate four more stolen animals.

Thank evolution for puppy cuteness. People find dogs to be the most adorable at eight weeks, just when they need to find human caretakers to survive.

Microsoft sunk a data center into the ocean. The water’s cooler temperatures may reduce servers’ harmful and costly energy requirements.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, young pups, and quolls of any age 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 Susan Howson and Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz.