Ghosn’s release, North Korea’s bad harvest, Communist KFC

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Carlos Ghosn could be released. The former Nissan chairman, who has been charged with financial misconduct, was granted bail by a Japanese court yesterday, though prosecutors are appealing the decision.

Huawei’s CFO gets a date for her extradition hearing. It’s Meng Wanzhou’s first court appearance since Canada allowed an extradition request by the US to proceed. Meng, in turn, has sued Canada, claiming she was unlawfully detained and searched.

The EU’s trade chief meets her American counterpart. Cecilia Malmstrom is in Washington to talk about car tariffs with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, and has said “there is full support” from EU members to respond if Donald Trump imposes duties on cars and car parts. Her visit comes as the latest US trade data is expected to show a global trade deficit of $600 billion last year.

Justin Trudeau’s political crisis deepens. Canadian lawmakers will seek answers from the prime minister’s former top adviser about the administration’s alleged attempts to influence prosecution of the Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin for corruption.  

House Democrats vote on an anti-Semitism resolution. The move comes after comments on the influence of pro-Israel lobbying groups by Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, have caused an outcry from both parties. Her remarks have highlighted a generational divide among Democrats over Israel.  

While you were sleeping

Juan Guaidó upped the ante. The opposition leader held talks with Venezuela’s public sector unions about staging strikes to bring down the government of Nicolás Maduro. Meanwhile, the US is considering imposing new sanctions on Venezuela.

Michael Bloomberg won’t run for president. The former New York City mayor decided against a presidential campaign in 2020. He will instead focus on climate change with a campaign called “Beyond Carbon.”

R. Kelly denied allegations of sexual abuse. In his first television interview since he was charged in the US with multiple counts of sexual abuse last month, the R&B singer denied having slept with underage girls.

North Korea had its worst food harvest in more than a decade. Natural disasters, the lack of arable land, and inefficient agriculture hit food production levels, according to the UN.

Tesla resolved its Chinese customs hitch. Authorities held 1,600 Model 3s earlier this week, sending the automaker’s stock tumbling. Tesla blamed a printing error on its customs labels, and said the problem had been fixed.

Australia’s economy slowed more than expected. GDP in the fourth quarter of 2018 rose 0.2% (paywall), below economists’ forecast of 0.3%, and the Australian dollar fell to a three-month low.


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Quartz Obsession

Mate: The beloved drink that encourages enthusiasts to slow down and connect with others is finally getting its digital due. A team of Argentinians petitioned Unicode for the addition of a mate emoji, which will be rolling out across platforms in the coming months. Read all about the tradition, and the process of pitching a new emoji, in today’s Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

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There’s no such thing as a female brain. A neuroscientist’s debunking of a sexist myth could do more for gender equality than any number of feminist manifestos.

Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency could democratize banking. A digital coin for WhatsApp could be pegged to a basket of global currencies.

Elon Musk and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine are the space industry’s odd couple. The pair are touting public-private partnerships to get US astronauts back into space.

Surprising discoveries

KFC opened a store dedicated to a Chinese Communist hero. A new outlet in China has decor that honors a figure revered by the party.

Hello Kitty will hit the big screen. Warner Bros.’ New Line Cinema has acquired the film rights to the 45-year-old feline.

Secretive Russian scientists keep embalmed Asian leaders looking fresh. The so-called Lenin Lab in Moscow, which embalmed Vladimir Lenin’s body in 1924, performs annual maintenance on the bodies of Kim Jong Il and Ho Chi Minh.

Goldman Sachs downgraded its dress code. The banking giant known for its formal reputation said it would permit casual clothing when “appropriate.”

Harley-Davidson is branching out into e-bikes for kids. It acquired a company called StaCyc that makes toddler-ready bikes to “provide an entry point for the youngest riders.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Hello Kitty memorabilia, and appropriately casual clothing to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Mary Hui and edited by Tripti Lahiri and Isabella Steger.