Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The US Senate votes on two bills meant to end the government shutdown. Both the Republican and Democratic measures are expected to fall short of the 60 votes they need to pass, so the deadlock will likely continue.
Renault’s board names a new CEO and chairman. The automaker is expected to choose Thierry Bollore, who has been running the company since Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan for financial misconduct, and Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard, respectively, for the posts.
The Democratic Republic of Congo swears in its new president. Felix Tshisekedi becomes the DR Congo’s new leader following a disputed vote, in the country’s first democratic transfer of power since it won independence. He has yet to address allegations by opponents that he was able to win by striking a secret backroom deal with outgoing president Joseph Kabila.
Ireland reveals its contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit. The country has reportedly hired an extra 400 customs officers to ensure that trade continues to run smoothly if the UK crashes out of the European Union. It’s also expected to reassure people that there won’t be customs posts at its border with Northern Ireland to avoid creating a hard border on the island.
Greece’s parliament votes on Macedonia’s name change. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is likely to have secured enough support from lawmakers to approve a deal that would see Greece’s neighbor change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia in order to distinguish it from Greece’s northern region of Macedonia.
While you were sleeping
Venezuela’s opposition leader declared himself interim president, with US backing. After Juan Guaidó called on the military and thousands of protesters to oppose Nicolás Maduro, he was immediately recognized by Donald Trump. Other Latin American governments (paywall), and countries including Canada and Georgia, followed suit. Maduro retaliated by breaking off relations with the US and expelling all American diplomats.
China blocked Bing. The Financial Times reported (paywall) that the Chinese government had ordered the block. Microsoft confirmed that its search engine, the last major foreign search-engine to still be available in China, is currently unaccessible in the country.
Nancy Pelosi nixed Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. The Democratic speaker of the House revoked her customary invitation for the US president to give his State of the Union address to Congress next week, saying he was not welcome until the government shutdown ended. Trump said he would deliver the address once the shutdown was over.
A rift in Singapore’s ruling family deepened. Lee Hsien Yang, brother of prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, called a former member of the ruling People’s Action Party who plans to set up a new rival party “the leader Singapore deserves.”Lee Hsien Yang publicly feuded (paywall) with the PM over the future of the house of their father and Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew, who died in 2017.
Michael Cohen postponed his congressional testimony due to “threats” from Trump. The president’s former lawyer was scheduled to testify Feb. 7 before beginning a three-year prison term. Cohen said he feared for his family’s safety over comments made by Trump and his current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Quartz obsession interlude
Small talk: Anthropologists believe that the urge to engage in low-stakes conversation is rooted in our deepest natures as social creatures. Small talk is the conversational glue that holds societies together. So, how about that local sports team? Read more in today’s obsession.
Our complete guide to Crispr explores how disruptive gene editing tools are triggering explosive innovation—and investment—in every industry that involves living things. Plus: Crispr might even cure our hangovers.
Matters of debate
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Retraining US workers displaced by robots could cost an estimated $34 billion. Taxpayers will bear most of the cost.
Regulations will never stop “designer babies.” A Crispr crackdown won’t hold back a technique that’s already being used.
Makeup is the new workout gear. The beauty industry is taking a cue from the athleisure boom.
Boeing successfully tested a flying car. The first flight of the autonomous Passenger Aerial Vehicle (paywall) will accelerate the race to build air taxis and delivery drones.
Bangkok is fighting air pollution with water-spraying drones. The government said it helped reduce the concentration of PM2.5 particles in the air by 10 micrograms per cubic meter on average.
Competitive farming is big in e-sports. “Farming Simulator,” a PC game where players grow crops, breed livestock, and sell their produce, is getting its own competitive pro league in Europe.
Amazon is rolling out delivery robots in a Seattle suburb. For now, the deliveries will be available only to the affluent consumers who live in the company’s backyard.
Scientists are using facial recognition to fight chimpanzee trafficking. The “ChimpFace” algorithm searches through social-media posts for the faces of stolen apes.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, chimp photos, and pollution-fighting drones 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 Isabella Steger and edited by Tripti Lahiri.