Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
China takes center stage at Davos. China’s vice president Wang Qishan will aim in his address to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland today to reassure investors unsettled by the US-China trade war. He’s one of a number of world leaders speaking today, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. Sign up for Quartz’s free Davos Daily Brief to follow along with our journalists on the ground.
The EU warns against “golden visa” schemes. The European commission is expected to issue a report that says attempts by the UK and other countries to attract outside investment in return for residency or citizenship are a boon to corruption and organized crime.
Venezuela’s opposition protests 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. A video message by vice president Mike Pence yesterday expressing support for the opposition prompted Maduro to call for a “revision” of diplomatic ties with the US.
Hong Kong presents a bill to make mocking China’s anthem a crime. The proposed law would impose jail terms of up to three years for disrespecting the “March of the Volunteers.” The move is widely seen as another attack on free speech in the city, where the Chinese national anthem has been booed at sports events as a form of political protest.
Los Angeles teachers head back to the classroom. Tens of thousands of educators in the US’s second-largest school district will end a six-day strike after agreeing to a new contract deal. The teachers had demanded better school funding and higher wages.
Earnings galore. Fourth-quarter results are expected from United Technologies, Kimberly-Clark, Comcast, and Ford today. Procter & Gamble will also report second-quarter revenue, with analysts expecting the consumer goods company to post a drop. Solid fourth-quarter showings from companies so far this earnings season have surprised Wall Street and helped lift stocks.
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 votes (paywall) Thursday on competing proposals to temporarily fund shuttered agencies through Feb. 8, and to allocate $5.7 billion for Donald Trump’s border wall. While neither is expected to pass, there’s hope that the votes signal a more cooperative phase in the search for bipartisan agreement on the shutdown.
Drone sightings disrupted flights at Newark airport. Flights to and from Newark International Airport in New Jersey were temporarily halted after two pilots reported seeing a drone Tuesday evening. The incident came after Gatwick, the UK’s second-busiest airport, saw three days of disruption and hundreds of flights cancelled due to drone sightings in December.
A district court overturned Iowa’s abortion ban. The law, considered the most restrictive abortion ban in the US, violated the state’s constitution, according to the court. Passed last May by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, the law prevented abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is before some women even know that they are pregnant.
The Federal Reserve examines Deutsche Bank. Bloomberg reported that the Fed will look at how the German bank handled billions in suspect transactions with Denmark’s leading lender. Deutsche Bank denied there was a probe in an emailed statement, and said it was cooperating with requests. Analysts say it could be one of the biggest money-laundering scams ever.
The Bank of Japan didn’t touch interest rates. The unsurprising decision came as the central bank cut its forecast for inflation for the financial year starting in April for the fourth time. Meanwhile, trade data released today showed the impact of weakening global demand, as Japan’s exports saw their worst drop in two years.
Tonga was hit by a digital blackout. The remote Polynesian nation, which relies heavily on digital services, lost nearly all cellphone and internet access after an undersea cable broke. Authorities will use satellites as a backup option until repairs can be made.
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 (paywall) by their irate captain.
Facebook is reportedly building its own space lasers. Satellites and base stations would enable Facebook to beam the internet to remote places.
The ocean’s surface is an endangered ecosystem. The neuston—a vast, hidden system of organisms 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.
Jobs least at risk of automation jumped in 2018. Demand for human-led fields like “cyber-calamity forecasters” and career counselors surged by more than two-thirds last year.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fondue invitations, and secure jobs to email@example.com. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Adam Rasmi and edited by Jackie Bischof.