Homeland Security testimony, Ghosn’s release, Communist KFC

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Kristjen Nielsen faces a tough hearing. Democrats are likely to grill the Department of Homeland Security secretary on Trump’s border wall emergency declaration and controversial immigration policies. Nielsen agreed to appear before Congress after weeks of negotiations with Democrats and a subpoena threat.

House Democrats vote on an anti-Semitism resolution. The move comes after Democratic Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar last week suggested pro-Israel lobbying groups want lawmakers to pledge “allegiance to a foreign country.” The comments caused an outcry from both parties’ top brass, and highlighted a generational divide among Democrats over Israel. 

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. Her visit comes as the latest US trade data (paywall) 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 advisor about the administration’s alleged attempts to influence prosecution of the Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin for corruption.

While you were sleeping

Carlos Ghosn got out of jail. The former Nissan chairman was released this morning after being granted bail by a Japanese court yesterday. Ghosn has spent more than 100 days in detention since his arrest on charges of financial misconduct. 

France slapped a 3% tax on internet giants. The bill targets digital companies with global revenues over $848 million, and is likely to impact 30 mostly American companies, including Google, Amazon, and Facebook. France moved forward with the tax after failing to get support (paywall) for EU-wide implementation.

R. Kelly denied allegations of sexual abuse. In an excerpt of a television interview being aired today and tomorrow, his first since being charged in the US with multiple counts of sexual abuse last month, the R&B singer denied having sex 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. Meanwhile, the country is reportedly rebuilding facilities at a long-range missile site that was dismantled last year.

A new anti-depressant drug got the green light. Regulators approved Spravato, a nasal spray also called esketamine, to treat severe depression. Johnson & Johnson’s new drug is a cousin of ketamine—used both as an anesthetic and party drug—and the first anti-depressant in decades to use a different “mechanism of action” (paywall).

A labor strike caused chaos at one of Africa’s busiest airports. Protest action by the Kenya Aviation Workers Union at the country’s main airport in Nairobi left hundreds of passengers stranded and caused multiple flights to be diverted. Workers are objecting to a proposal to merge the management of loss-making Kenya Airways and the airport.


We continue our examination of Brexit today, with an essay from Eshe Nelson that makes a similar argument Joni Mitchell and Janet Jackson made many years ago: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Separately, we have a close look at what investors should think about Lyft ahead of its IPO, and have a Tipping Points feature on the economics of digital fitness coaches.

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.

Russia helps keep embalmed Asian leaders looking fresh. Moscow’s secretive “Lenin Lab,” which embalmed Vladimir Lenin’s body in 1924, performs annual maintenance on the bodies of Kim Jong Il and Ho Chi Minh.

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

Forty percent of Europe’s AI companies don’t use AI. A chunk of AI-classified startups don’t actually use the over-hyped technology in a meaningful way.

Aging Swedes are being treated to 3D-printed food. Two care homes are creating foods like broccoli and chicken legs from purée to try make meals more palatable.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, communist memorabilia, and 3D-printed food recipes to hi@qz.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.