South African election, Trump’s losses, canned water

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

South Africa holds parliamentary elections. Despite growing anger at corruption within its ranks, the African National Congress is all but certain to win the most votes, securing another term for president Cyril Ramaphosa. Key issues include land reform, crime, and the provision of basic utilities such as water and electricity.

Iran scales back its commitment to its 2015 nuclear deal. President Hassan Rouhani is expected to announce that Iran would re-commence some of the nuclear activities that had been suspended, in response to the US decision to abandon the deal last year.

Uber and Lyft drivers go on strike. The work stoppage is scheduled for the 7am-9am rush hour in a number of US and UK cities, including New York, Los Angeles, London, and Glasgow, in protest of the companies’ labor practices. It comes a day before Uber is due to price its shares (paywall) for its IPO.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou goes back to court. The company’s CFO appears in a Vancouver court five months after her arrest for what’s likely to be a short administrative hearing as part of her fight against being extradited to the US. She is currently out on bail.

While you were sleeping

Mike Pompeo made a surprise trip to Iraq. The US Secretary of State abruptly canceled a trip to Berlin and went to Baghdad instead, where he met with the prime minister and president to discuss Iraq’s security as tensions with Iran escalate.

Donald Trump lost $1 billion in ten years. An investigation by the New York Times (paywall) found that the president’s businesses were deep in the red between 1985 to 1994, according to his federal income tax returns. He was able to avoid paying income taxes for almost a whole decade as a result.

Lyft’s inaugural results beat expectations despite massive losses. The company’s first quarterly earnings since its IPO showed a loss of $1.14 billion, largely due to stock-based compensation, while revenue nearly doubled to $776 million.

Google released a cheaper version of its flagship smartphone at the I/O developers conference. The Pixel 3a is priced as low as $399 as the company seeks a wider market for its Android devices. Android also got a raft of updates, with the OS now ready for foldable phones (even if foldable phones aren’t ready for it).


Alipay is a Chinese behemoth with more than 100 services rolled into one. In a membership exclusive, Echo Huang gives a tour of the all-encompassing app as part of our field guide on Alipay parent Ant Financial. Over in Private Key, Matthew De Silva looks at the wrinkles in pricing for cryptocurrencies in funds versus exchanges. And Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz investigates the growing strength of the immortality movement as it enters the mainstream.

Quartz Obsession

Butter: For a good chunk of the late 20th century, it was in the dietary doghouse. Now, butter is back at the big kid’s table, thanks to celebrity chefs, a backlash against processed foods, and new nutrition advice. Take a look at how butter spread around the world in today’s Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

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Taxing targeted ad revenue could curtail Big Tech. Google and Facebook should be pressured to make significant changes to their business models.

A second Brexit referendum is inevitable. The intransigence and growing confidence (paywall) of purists on both sides makes a compromise deal impossible.

Women gifted in math are still less likely than men to pursue it. STEM majors are losing out on mathematically-gifted women.

Surprising discoveries

A Mongolian couple died of the bubonic plague. They contracted the illness after eating raw marmot.

Qantas made a zero-garbage flight. Passengers on a Sydney-Adelaide flight used biodegradable cutlery and packaging made from sugar cane and crop starch.

Random stock picks are better than expert ones. The Wall Street Journal’s investments, selected by throwing darts, beat those chosen by the best professional investors (paywall).

Canned water is now on the market. Liquid Death markets itself to people who are into heavy metal and punk rock.

Sunscreen chemicals hang out in your body. The active ingredients show up in the bloodstream at unnervingly high levels for several days.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, compostable airplane meals, and random stock picks to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Isabella Steger and edited by Tripti Lahiri.