Myanmar ruling, Wuhan lockdown, falling iguanas

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today 

The UN’s highest court rules on Myanmar. The International Court of Justice delivers its decision on whether emergency measures should be taken to prevent Myanmar from acting against the Rohingya Muslims. Experts aren’t betting on Myanmar abiding by the Hague’s orders.

The Doomsday Clock could move. Taking climate change and the threat of nuclear war into account, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will announce the proper position of the clock’s symbolic minute hand, which shows how close we are to a “midnight” apocalypse (currently, the clock is set to 11:58pm).

The European Central Bank meets. Investors will listen to ECB president Christine Lagarde’s policy statement for signs of a hawkish mindset and clues about future adjustments. The bank’s expected announcement of a year-long strategy review could reroute efforts towards previous inflation goals.

Davos enters its third day. Germany’s Angela Merkel, Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, Italy’s Giuseppe Conte, and United Nations secretary-general António Guterres are all scheduled to speak at the World Economic Forum. Get the scoop alongside Quartz reporters by signing up for our special Davos Daily Brief.

While you were sleeping

Wuhan shut down as coronavirus spreads. The Chinese city of 11 million that’s ground zero for the outbreak closed airports, train stations, and public transportation—complicating the busy Lunar New Year travel season—as the country’s official death total climbed to 17. A coronavirus vaccine is reportedly in the works, while new research finds the disease may have originated in snakes. The World Health Organization delayed its decision on whether to declare the outbreak a global health emergency until Thursday.

Democrats made their opening arguments in the impeachment trial. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top prosecutor from the House of Representatives, told senators that the facts would show there was no disputing that president Donald Trump had engaged in a “corrupt scheme and cover-up.”

A water-bombing plane crashed in Australia. Three people on the firefighting aircraft died in the crash in New South Wales. Meanwhile, planes were grounded at Canberra airport after hotter, drier conditions led two bushfires to merge.

Canada approved a nearly C$200 million fine for Volkswagen. The $150 million penalty comes after the automaker pleaded guilty to dozens of counts for importing into Canada thousands of diesel vehicles that did not meet the country’s emissions standards.

Quartz membership

In the 2000s, the average open-world game took just under 30 hours to complete. But by the 2010s, many had stretched into 50-hour sagas. Quartz’s Amrita Khalid takes a look at how major game studios came to decide that longer is better.

Quartz daily obsession

Is the Mona Lisa all it’s cracked up to be? At least 30,000 people line up each day at the Louvre to see Leonardo da Vinci’s painting for only 30 seconds, a process that earned it the distinction of world’s most disappointing tourist attraction, according to Britons. The piece only came to fame via a heist, and there may be another Mona Lisa out there. Dive deep in today’s Quartz Daily Obsession.

Matters of debate

Tech shouldn’t lock out law enforcement. But governments haven’t acted in good faith on this issue.

Fashion needs oil-industry level regulation. Other countries should follow France’s lead in tackling the industry’s massive pollution problem.

Don’t treat books like sacred objects. They’re there to deliver content, not to be fetishized.

Surprising discoveries

The world’s oldest asteroid impact might have ended an ice age. The crater in Western Australia is 2.2 billion years old.

Australia’s fires revealed an ancient aquatic system older than the pyramids. For centuries, its channels have been covered in thick vegetation.

Best picture: atoms bonding and separating. The tiny event has long eluded researchers, who have just captured it on camera for the first time.

Beware of falling iguanas, Floridians. A cold snap will stun the reptiles, who then fall out of trees.

Questionable painting restorers strike again. A lamb in a 15th-century oil painting now sports humanoid eyes, sultry lips, and ears that are not where ears go.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dog-eared books, and Instagram-ready lambs to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Tripti Lahiri and edited by Mary Hui.