Musk asks for mercy, Boeing 737 Max crash, medieval diseases

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Donald Trump asks for money to build a wall. Trump will ask Congress for $8.6 billion (paywall) to go towards a barrier at the southern border as part of his fiscal 2020 budget proposal. Lawmakers declined his previous request to finance a wall, prompting the president to declare a national emergency in order to get the money.

Elon Musk asks a judge to go easy on him. Tesla’s CEO will make the case (paywall) that he shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for his tweet last month about the company’s production figures. The Securities and Exchange Commission contends Musk violated an earlier settlement over his market-moving tweets.

Britain begins a crucial week for Brexit. Prime minister Theresa May is battling for the Brexit deal she negotiated—and possibly her job—ahead of a key vote on Tuesday. If the lawmakers reject her proposal, more votes will follow, including one on whether to delay the March 29 departure from the European Union.

The UN Environment Assembly meets in Nairobi. The forum, which runs through March 15 and is expected to draw world leaders including French president Emmanuel Macron, is tinged by tragedy this year. At least 19 UN officials were among the victims in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Nairobi shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Iran’s president visits Iraq. Hassan Rouhani is making his first official trip to Baghdad for high-level meetings with its Shiite-led government, a strong Tehran ally. The trip comes as Rouhani faces an economic crisis at home and pressure from restored US sanctions.

Over the weekend

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crashed. The flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed on Sunday minutes after take off, killing all 157 on board. Ethiopian Airlines grounded its fleet of 737 Max-8s after the incident, with China following suit. The US planemaker is facing scrutiny after the second fatal 737 Max-8 crash in five months.

Venezuela restored some electricity. Authorities have restored spotty access since a massive power outage hit the country last week. President Nicolás Maduro said on Saturday 70% of electricity services had been resumed, until another cyberattack hit the country. Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó held dueling rallies in Caracas on Saturday.

Turkey slid into recession. New figures showed that GDP shrank by 2.4% in the fourth quarter, on top of a quarterly decline in the third. The lira fell by 30% against the dollar last year, roiling Turkey’s economy.

US-backed forces attacked the last ISIS stronghold in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces launched an assault on the Islamic State’s final enclave of Baghuz, near the Iraqi border. The strikes are aimed at wiping out the last of the “caliphate” proclaimed by ISIS in 2014.

India set its election dates. Polls for the lower house of parliament will be held on seven days in April and May, with results declared on May 23. Whichever party, or coalition of parties, wins a majority of 272 seats will elect the prime minister (paywall).

Quartz Obsession

Put your hands together for applause: The act of clapping has been part of human nature since recorded history began. But what it means isn’t always simple. From its use in the Byzantine empire to the Soviet Union to the US State of the Union, this gesture has a remarkably complex history. Read more in the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

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The US should stay on daylight saving time permanently. It would lower crime, save energy, and encourage more outdoor recreation.

The “self-made billionaire” is a lie. A raft of research debunks the enduring myth.

The anxiety business is making us more anxious. Squishy toys and fidget spinners worth billions are commodifying our anxiety, not easing it.

Surprising discoveries

K-pop stars aren’t just from South Korea anymore. Labels are making the genre more global by featuring artists from other countries.

Medieval diseases are infecting California’s homeless. Illnesses like typhus and tuberculosis have flared up in recent years, turning a homelessness crisis into a public-health crisis.

Humans are wiping out chimpanzee culture. Having already pushed chimpanzee populations to the brink, research now shows chimps’ distinct cultural behaviors are at risk, too.

A nine-year-old girl helped design Stephen Curry’s new sneaker. Riley Morrison’s work appears in the sock liner and includes phrases like “Girls Hoop Too.”

The tardiest telegram ever. A Michigan man who graduated from college in 1969 finally got a congratulatory message sent by family friends at the time, a mere 50 years later.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, K-pop opportunities, and sneaker designs to 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 Jason Karaian.