Poultry diplomacy, Sri Lanka votes, space blood

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Delhi schools close for a second day due to smog. Crop burning fires near India’s capital is adding to the toxic smoke crisis, forcing the closure of schools both yesterday and today. The air quality index hit a new dangerous high of 474 on a scale of 500.

US impeachment inquiry hearings continue. The former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testifies in the second day of public hearings. Her appearance follows a new revelation of a second US embassy officer overhearing president Donald Trump’s request for investigations into the Biden family.

Eyes on JD.com earnings. Investors are awaiting an earnings report from China’s second-largest e-commerce firm. Meanwhile, its chief competitor Alibaba offered rare criticism of China’s censorship operations in its filing for a second IPO in Hong Kong.

Sri Lanka heads to the polls. Voters will cast their ballots for the next president on Saturday—with a record 35 candidates. Slow economic growth and security concerns are top issues after Easter Sunday attacks that killed more than 250 people.

While you were sleeping

Hong Kong chaos leads to a second death. An elderly worker has died from a brick hitting his head, making it the second death in five months of protests. The city has scaled back this weekend’s gay pride march in response to ongoing demonstrations.

North Korea turned down talks with the US. Pyongyang reportedly declined a request for new discussions on denuclearization, calling it a “trick.” North Korean state media also called former vice president Joe Biden a rabid dog that needed to be put down (link in Korean).

BRICS summit closed with a message against protectionism. The world’s five major developing economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) released a joint statement announcing progress toward a common customs agreement and a unified payments system.

China lifted its ban on US poultry. With Beijing reporting fresh progress on trade talks with Washington—and concerns over protein stockpiles in the face of swine fever outbreaks—China is ending a five-year ban on imports of poultry from the US.

China’s soccer coach called it quits. Marcello Lippi “took full responsibility” for China’s 2-1 loss to Syria in an Asia World Cup qualifying match in Dubai, submitting his resignation immediately after the match.

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Should Big Tech be broken up? As part of this week’s field guide, Quartz’s economics reporter Allison Schrager argues that the size of the major companies isn’t necessarily a problem—instead, anti-competitive behavior, poor data privacy, and misinformation are where solutions must be found.

Quartz Obsession

Are crystals the new blood diamonds? Despite damning coverage of brutal industrial practices—not to mention a total lack of evidence of any tangible health benefits—enthusiasm for crystals has only grown. Unearth the sparkly trend with the Quartz Obsession.

Matters of Debate

Women’s rights conferences aren’t working. Gender equality is still considered to be generations away in much of the world and endless meetings don’t seem to be the answer.

It’s past time for the US to legalize weed. Two-thirds of Americans now support legal recreational marijuana, but only 11 states (and Washington DC) have made it into law.

The Yahoo Japan-Line tie-up makes sense. Combining the services will help Japan catch up in the global cashless payment revolution and also deliver SoftBank a much-needed win.

Surprising discoveries

Space travel could make your blood flow backward. On Earth, blood flows down from the brain to the body. In outer space…it might not!

Even Nordic dads don’t take enough parental leave. Scandinavian fathers take just 10-30% of their allotted time off after the birth of a child.

Lost cows are coming home. Three cows thought dead after a major hurricane were discovered after apparently swimming to land for several miles.

The stationary market is booming. Email anxiety is fueling the revival of personal stationery, projected to be a $128 billion market by 2025.

Recycling shoes is hard. Adidas has a plan to make 100% recyclable shoes, but the tricky part is getting people to give them back in the first place.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, custom letterhead, and lost cows to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Patrick deHahn and Max Lockie.