Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Decision day for the Bank of Japan. Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is widely expected to leave policy settings unchanged, even though inflation is declining. Economists fear rates could turn negative this year as the BOJ falls well short of its bond-buying target (paywall).
The EU warns against “golden visa” schemes. The European commission is expected to issue a report finding that attempts to encourage outside investment, common in the UK and other countries, are a boon to corruption and organised crime.
Venezuela’s opposition mounts a protest on a provocative anniversary. Sixty-one years after the uprising that toppled dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, opposition leader Juan Guaidó will hold a march calling for the resignation of president Nicolás Maduro. The country’s national guard reportedly quelled a mutiny attempt on Monday.
China slaps anti-dumping tariffs on chemicals from India and Japan. Beijing said it will impose duties of up to 70.4% on ortho-dichlorobenzene, a precursor chemical used for agrochemicals, insecticides, and other industrial uses.
While you were sleeping
US Senate leaders reached a deal that could end the government shutdown. Majority leader Mitch McConnell and minority leader Chuck Schumer agreed to hold a vote (paywall), scheduled for Thursday, that would temporarily fund shuttered agencies through Feb. 8. A separate bill, also up for a Thursday vote, would allocate $5.7 billion for Donald Trump’s border wall.
ANA reportedly plans to buy a 10% stake in Philippine Airlines. Nikkei and the Philippine Daily Inquirer report that the deal, worth about 10 billion yen ($91 million), will tie the two corporate allies more closely together as PAL tries to appeal to more business passengers.
The US cancelled a pivotal trade meeting with China. CNBC reported that the US trade representative abruptly cancelled talks this week due to disagreements over intellectual property rules, ahead of a March 1 expiration of a truce between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. The news helped send US stocks dramatically downward.
Roma and The Favourite led the Oscar nominations. Netflix scored its first Best Picture nod for Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white picture, which tied for most noms with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite. The nominations also included picks for Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman, along with several notable snubs.
The EU fined Mastercard $650 million for overcharging merchants. Antitrust regulators determined that the credit card giant illegally prevented businesses from using the least expensive payment processors (paywall), resulting in massive overcharges that were passed on to customers.
The FBI warned that it can’t pay informants during the government shutdown. Agents say they are unable to pursue investigations into terrorism, drug trafficking, and sexual predators during the government shutdown, which has also forced tens of thousands of agents to work without pay.
Quartz obsession interlude
Fondue became a global trend thanks to a well-executed marketing campaign. Faced with a cheese surplus in 1914, Swiss producers formed a union that controlled the dairy market for decades. To stoke cheese consumption around the world, it started advertising the fireside fondue session. Dip into this rich history in today’s Davos-themed Quartz Obsession.
Today we’re looking at the patent battles over Crispr and talking to John Cumbers, who runs a synthetic-biology conference that is at the epicenter of the gene-engineering industry. We also have a bonus article from Davos exploring the ultra-elite lounge where world leaders hang out and are served coffee by robots.
Matters of debate
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Iran was the only victor of the US-Iraq War. The Pentagon made a disastrous strategic error by failing to apply the lessons of the Vietnam War.
Music is essential for people with dementia. Personalized playlists may alleviate some symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s.
Apple Pay is a huge sleeper hit. Most major retailers now accept the digital payment system, though Walmart and Home Depot are still holdouts.
Stranded United passengers are spamming the CEO. Travelers who spent 12 hours in Newfoundland were given Oscar Munoz’s email address by their irate captain.
Facebook is reportedly building its very own space lasers. Satellites and base stations would enable Facebook to beam the internet to remote base stations.
The ocean’s surface is an endangered ecosystem. The neuston—a vast, hidden system of organisms like sea anemones that functions like an upside-down coral reef—is in danger from misguided plastic clean-up efforts.
A lawmaker wants to fund Trump’s wall with a porn tax. An Arizona state senator suggested charging $20 to access “obscene material” online.
Naomi Osaka was whitewashed for a ramen ad. The Japanese tennis star, whose father is Haitian, was depicted with light skin by her noodle-making sponsor, Nissin.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, space lasers, and friendly anemones to email@example.com. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Adam Pasick and Holly Ojalvo.