Israel’s new government, Indonesia’s election, microplastic rain

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Benjamin Netanyahu forms a new government. Following consultations with newly elected parties, Israel’s prime minister secured the backing of the majority of parliament members to assemble a coalition that will likely be made up of his Likud party and his traditional partners of ultra-orthodox and right-wing parties.

The US lifts limits on lawsuits against foreign firms in Cuba. In a major policy shift, the Trump administration will allow American citizens to sue foreign companies for operating businesses in Cuba out of properties confiscated by the Havana government six decades ago. The move intensifies US pressure on Cuba, and is strongly opposed by the EU. The US will also announce new sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The top US envoy for North Korea heads to Moscow. Stephen Biegun, who leads negotiations with Pyongyang, is meeting with Russian officials today and tomorrow for talks on denuclearizing North Korea. His visit suggests that a meeting between Kim Jong Un and Russian president Vladimir Putin may be imminent.

While you were sleeping

Indonesians headed to the ballot boxes. President Joko Widodo, who picked a top Islamic cleric for his running mate and made a recent visit to Mecca, leads polls with a strong economic record but is facing questions about his commitment to Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. The single-day election with nearly 200 million eligible voters spread over 17,000 islands will make it one of the world’s most impressive feats of electoral logistics.

China’s first-quarter GDP growth exceeded expectations. The world’s second-largest economy expanded 6.4% in the first three months of the year, beating analysts’ predictions. But as always with Chinese economic statistics, the real question will be how much to trust the numbers (paywall).’s CEO was accused of rape. In a lawsuit filed yesterday, a Chinese undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota accused Richard Liu, the billionaire founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant, of raping her last August.

Netflix shrugged off Apple and Disney. The company posted better-than-expected earnings and revenues, but shares sank on its thin outlook in the face of new streaming video competitors. Netflix said it doesn’t “anticipate that these new entrants will materially affect our growth.”

US regulators greenlit Boeing’s software fix to the 737 Max. The software upgrade and changes in training protocols were deemed “operationally suitable” by the Federal Aviation Administration, an important step in getting the grounded plane back in the air. Separately, an institutional shareholder group said that Boeing should appoint an independent chairman (paywall) to rebuild trust in its damaged brand.

Apple paid Qualcomm to settle their long-running patent war. The companies dropped their litigation on the first day of a trial in California, with Apple paying an undisclosed sum to its chip supplier. Shares of Qualcomm, which has been locked in a bitter dispute with Apple over royalties and licensing fees, shot up more than 20%.

Quartz Obsession

The Notre Dame fire: If there’s a silver lining to the tragic event, it’s that the 13th-century cathedral is an architectural mutt to begin with, built and restored by countless architects over the centuries. Still, the fire forces us to confront a very uncomfortable truth: Our monuments are built for the generations to come, but our ability to protect them is much more limited than we might like to admit. Read more in our Quartz Obsession.


In today’s Q&A, reporter Max de Haldevang speaks with senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the man  bent on stamping out hidden money in the US.  And in Private Key, we have a look at how Andreessen Horowitz has approached investing in cryptocurrencies.

Matters of debate

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DNA tests don’t tell us who we really are. Knowing genetic geological origins distracts us from the reality of race (paywall).

Students focus too much on making an impact. Rhetoric about “achieving greatness” is pushing them toward the wrong kind of success.

Breaking the law is the future of climate protests. Activists are increasingly willing to commit crimes to save future generations.

Surprising discoveries

NASA is shooting mice into space, and they’re thriving. Rodents used tails and toes to go about their normal business in microgravity.

Stonehenge was built by Turkish immigrants. New DNA evidence reveals that a group from Anatolia brought agricultural know-how and a penchant for stone monuments to ancient Britain.

Microplastics are falling from the sky. Even the remote Pyrenees aren’t safe from tiny plastic particles that travel on the wind.

China’s censored Game of Thrones premiere lost six minutes. The custom version axed violence and sex scenes, but the episode emerged mostly unscathed.

A swimming dog was rescued at sea. Workers on an oil rig off Thailand found “Boonrod” 130 miles (209 km) away from shore—freezing and exhausted, but alive.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, rescued pups, and deleted Game of Thrones scenes 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 Isabella Steger.