May’s step-down vow, China’s satellite failure, kosher weed

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

New US-China trade talks begin. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin will meet with vice premier Liu He in China—though trade experts say a deal could still be months away.

An update on the US economy that undercuts Donald Trump’s policies. The final estimate of US third-quarter gross domestic product is expected to be revised from 2.6% to 2.4% (paywall) on weaker retail and construction spending. That would drag the full-year growth rate to 2.9%—below the 3% that Trump trumpeted.

South Korea’s president meets with foreign investors. Moon Jae-in’s sit-down comes as activist investors including hedge fund titan Paul Singer press for corporate governance reform and simplified ownership structures at the country’s largest conglomerates.

While you were sleeping

Theresa May promised to step down if Parliament approves her Brexit plan. The embattled UK prime minister told Conservative MPs that she would step aside if her twice-defeated proposal to leave the EU is approved. A vote is not certain, but could come as early as Thursday. Lawmakers also seized control of Parliament from the government to vote on eight different non-binding Brexit alternative plans.

The US is forcing a Chinese tech firm to sell off Grindr. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which screens acquisitions of US companies by foreign firms, informed mobile gaming giant Kunlun Group that owning the popular LGBTQ dating app “constitutes a national security risk,” two sources told Reuters. Kunlun, which had been preparing a Grindr IPO, is now seeking to sell it more quickly.

Boeing touted a software fix to the 737 Max. The company said its update would prevent erroneous sensor data from triggering a controversial anti-stall system (paywall) suspected of causing two recent fatal crashes. Boeing was “agonizingly close” (paywall) to rolling out the fix when an Ethiopian Airlines jet went down on March 10, Bloomberg reported.

Trump demanded that Russia remove troops from Venezuela. The US president said “all options are open” after two Russian air force planes landed in Caracas this weekend, reportedly carrying about 100 Russian special forces and other military personnel. Trump was speaking to reporters alongside Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, at the White House.

China’s OneSpace rocket launch failed. The spacecraft carrying a small satellite did not make it into orbit. It was another setback for the country’s private space industry, following a failed launch attempt by a different company last year.

Quartz Obsession

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. But that wasn’t always the case. The phrase, which now crops up as a reminder to look for the hidden costs in a mutual fund or user agreement, comes from the days when US saloons would offer patrons a meal with the purchase of a drink. Sidle up to the Quartz Obsession for the full story.


Immortality: Humankind’s documented attempts to cheat death and live forever fall into six categories and go back to at least the 4th century BC. Our coded timeline tells the story. We also shed light on what today’s life expectancy in the US says about global inequality and why Bill Gates thinks the pursuit of immortality by his superrich peers is “egocentric.”

Matters of debate

Join the conversation with the new Quartz app!

Mexico is winning the US-China trade war. Chinese companies are circumventing higher tariffs by using Mexican factories, which carry higher labor but lower shipping costs.

White nationalism is no different from white supremacy. Facebook was forced to erase the distinction by the New Zealand mosque shootings.

The US has a monumental student loan problem. Debt has outpaced inflation, defaults are rising, and the share of borrowers 40 and older is growing.

Surprising discoveries

One-third of China is invested in a single mutual fund. Ant Financial’s Yu’e Bao has $168.26 billion in assets under management (paywall).

Softbank’s founder narrowly missed out on an early Amazon investment. Masayoshi Son came up just short of Jeff Bezos’ $130 million asking price for a 30% stake (paywall).

Kosher cannabis is for sale in California. The Jewish dietary law requires the product to be clean and not infested with pests.

Health officials want France to cut back on wine. New guidelines suggest no more than two glasses a day, and at most 10 a week.

Greenland’s largest glacier is growing—but not in a good way. NASA found that part of Jakobshavn Glacier is gaining ice for the first time in 20 years, due to troublesome shifts in ocean temperatures.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, growing glaciers, and surplus French wine to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Adam Pasick and Holly Ojalvo.