Brexit alternatives, Trump trims US aid, cauliflower controversy

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Lawmakers take the Brexit steering wheel, again. After rejecting prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time Friday, the UK parliament will conduct a second phase of “indicative voting.” The votes aren’t binding, but legislators hope they’ll show a way forward to break the parliamentary deadlock ahead of an April 12 deadline for leaving the EU.

Leading Democratic candidates address the left. Candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, and Cory Booker, are scheduled to address the “We the People” summit in Washington, DC, a gathering of left-leaning grassroots organizations.

Details on the Ethiopian Airlines crash emerge. A preliminary report on the March Boeing 737 Max crash, which killed all 157 passengers, will be released today (paywall), followed by a briefing from Ethiopia’s government. The report may provide insight into the role of an automated anti-stalling safety feature also suspected to have been behind a Lion Air 737 Max crash last October.

Venezuela gets a shorter working day. As another blackout took hold of Caracas yesterday, the government announced that public and private institutions would end workdays at 2pm until further notice “to achieve consistency in the provision of electricity.”

US shops take stock. February retail sales are expected to have ticked up 0.3%, after January showed a modest improvement from consumer pullback in December (paywall). Analysts will look to see whether the historically low unemployment rate and other positive indicators are enough to temper a broader slowdown in growth.

Over the weekend

Trump moved to cancel a chunk of US aid. The State Department notified Congress that it would pause aid payments to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the sources of a number of migrant caravans headed to the US border. The US president also threatened again to close off the border with Mexico.

Jeff Bezos’ security chief alleged Saudi surveillance. Gavin de Becker, writing in the Daily Beast, said that the Saudi Arabia government had been surveilling the Amazon CEO’s mobile phone. It had “been intent on harming” Bezos, he wrote, because of reporting by the Bezos-owned Washington Post about the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mark Zuckerberg called for internet regulation. In an op-ed, the Facebook founder and CEO made the case (paywall) for new government rules around harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability. It’s a sign that Facebook acknowledges such regulation is now inevitable and wants to shape it (paywall).

New Zealand got tough on guns. A ban on the type of weapons used to kill 50 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch last month was unveiled in parliament on Monday. The bill, which would come into force on April 12, appears likely to pass in parliament with the unanimous support of all 120 MPs.

Europe had a busy weekend of voting. Liberal anti-corruption activist Zuzana Čaputová was elected as Slovakia’s first female president, and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy won the first round of votes in Ukraine’s presidential elections. Meanwhile, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party claimed overall victory in local elections, though it is trailing in major cities.

Quartz Obsession

We’re surrounded by kludges. The cause of the Boeing 737 Max crashes may be a kludge. The rules governing Boeing? Arguably kludges. Our moral response? Kludgy. Even the language we use to talk about it: kludge. What’s this word? It’s a foundation of human nature (and a linguistic kludge). Patch it together at the Quartz Obsession.


Batteries. If the world is going to have to move to a zero-emissions future, it will do so powered by the chemical reactions occurring in the batteries that power our phones and, increasingly, our automobiles. Reporter Akshat Rathi begins his field guide with a state of play memo that outlines in clarity and detail the shape of the battery landscape, and the scale and depth of the China’s current efforts around battery technology.

Matters of debate

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Heavy metal is the thinking person’s music. Metal and opera fans share “similarly creative and gentle personalities.”

The US college waitlist has to go. It is “torturous for the kids,” with only a small percentage being admitted.

You shouldn’t follow adorable exotic animals on Instagram. Cute photos and videos of them acting unnaturally may actually be a sign of their mistreatment.

Surprising discoveries

There’s no sign of a $450 million painting. “Salvator Mundi” fetched a record price in 2017 but has yet to appear (paywall) at the Louvre Abu Dhabi as promised.

Arkansas lawmakers passed a law against cauliflower rice. Food companies may no longer call it “rice.”

Parisians initially hated the Louvre Pyramid. The 30-year-old French monument was derided as a “gigantic, ruinous gadget.”

Americans “far outpace” the rest of the world in toilet paper usage. The average four-person US household uses more than 100 lbs (45 kg) of it a year.

Bright orange Garfield telephones have been washing up on a French beach for 35 years. They came from a container that fell off a cargo ship in 1983.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, cauliflower rice recipes, and heavy-metal playlists 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 Jackie Bischof.