EU extension, probe of Russia probe, smart rosaries

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Indonesia releases its final 737 Max crash report. Investigators gave victim families from last year’s Lion Air crash, which killed 189, an advance summary of their finding that the Boeing plane’s design and poor regulatory oversight led to the disaster.

The EU may make a Brexit extension decision. European officials appear to favor granting the extension request reluctantly made by British prime minister Boris Johnson, but it’s unclear if they’ll give a three-month delay or a shorter one. They could also postpone the announcement, expected today, to Monday.

The US releases a Russian agent. Maria Butina, the only Russian to be arrested and convicted from the three-year probe into Moscow’s interference in US elections, is expected to be sent back to her country soon after getting out of prison today.

California faces a fiery weekend. Northern California’s Kincade fire has grown at the rate of 30 football fields a minute since breaking out on Wednesday, and weather conditions mean more blazes could break out today and over the weekend.

Argentina goes to the polls. The country is suffering from rising inflation and poverty ahead of Sunday’s presidential vote that will likely lead to the election of populist Alberto Fernández—whose running mate is the controversial former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

While you were sleeping

Mike Pence criticized Beijing on human rights. In a speech on US-China relations, the vice president said that the US stands behind protesters in Hong Kong. He also slammed the NBA and Nike for siding with China on censorship. Meanwhile, US senators called for an investigation to see if Chinese-owned social video app TikTok poses a national security threat.

Brazil opened its arms to Chinese and Indian citizens. President Jair Bolsonaro, while on a visit to Beijing where he will meet president Xi Jinping today, announced that visas will no longer be required for travelers from those two countries.

The US review of the Russia probe became a criminal investigation. Attorney general William Barr’s administrative review of the origins of the Russia probe into interference in the US 2016 election has morphed into a more serious inquiry, the New York Times reported.

Amazon tumbled on sour earnings. The e-commerce giant’s stock dropped by as much as 9% in extended trading after reporting muted profits and weak holiday guidance. Heavy investment in expanding one-day delivery is boosting revenues but also affecting profitability.


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Coal 1 – Forest 0. Hasdeo Arand is one of the largest and most pristine tracts of forest in India…but it also sits atop 5,500 million tons of coal. In this week’s field guide on India’s coal addiction, Quartz senior reporter Akshat Rathi investigates one mining giant’s attempt to overrun the sacred forest.

Quartz Obsession

The glass cliff is when a company appoints a female CEO just as the business is in trouble. Whether it’s to signal transformative change, enhance trust, or because women are just built better for crises, the phenomenon puts more women at the top—but in immediately perilous positions. Lean in (and over the edge) at the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of Debate

Humans shouldn’t be allowed into outer space. With Earth’s destructive history, people should first think about how to best approach galactic exploration.

Doctors should be tested for empathy. The tests should even be used to screen medical school applicants.

Napster saved the music industry. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has credited the peer-to-peer service as his inspiration for developing the future of audio.

Surprising discoveries

Influencers flock to the dressing room. A new class of Instagram stars offers advice from inside America’s most affordable changing rooms.

Hong Kong has a nearly million-dollar parking spot. A space at the most expensive office building in the world just changed hands for HK$7.6 million ($970,000).

A new world record in whisky auctions. A bottle of 60-year-old Macallan Scotch blew away estimates at Sotheby’s with a hammer price of £1.5 million ($1,926,960).

The Vatican is getting into wearable tech. The eRosary allows believers to track their worship via an app.

Soldiers lost their moral compass. The host nation’s orienteering team was disqualified at the Military World Games in China after evidence of cheating was uncovered.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, vintage whisky, and free parking spots to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Tripti Lahiri and edited by Mary Hui.