China halts travel, Kobe Bryant dies, trapped Corvettes

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What to watch for today

China blocks tour groups from traveling overseas… The move, an attempt to contain the Wuhan virus, will come as a relief to countries gearing up to screen travelers from China. It will also hurt tourism targets, including Japan’s goal of attracting 40 million visitors this year.

…and Hong Kong blocks visitors from Hubei province. The province is home to Wuhan, where the eponymous virus originated. The move follows Hong Kong declaring an emergency over the virus and shutting down schools until Feb. 17.

Beyond Meat reports earnings. Despite the ire of beef lobbyists, the maker of plant-based burgers has seen its share price rise dramatically. And along with rival Impossible Foods, it’s now eyeing China.

Over the weekend

China announced more deaths from the Wuhan virus… On Sunday morning authorities said more than 56 had died from the coronavirus and about 2,000 cases had been confirmed, though later in the day Wuhan authorities estimated a further 1,000 cases in their city alone.

…and warned it can spread during the incubation period. Infected people can spread the coronavirus before showing symptoms—a key difference from the SARs outbreak in 2003—with the incubation period lasting up to 14 days.

Trump’s lawyers accused Democrats of trying to subvert the election. In the Senate impeachment trial, they kept their brief defense respectful. The US president himself, however, negated much of that with tweets attacking House prosecutors.

Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. The NBA superstar and others, including his daughter Gianna, perished Sunday when a private helicopter went down near Calabasas, California.

Astronauts repaired a dark matter detector. The crew aboard the International Space Station performed the last of four spacewalks to extend the life of a device used to measure cosmic rays.

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Quartz daily obsession

The year of the rat began on Jan. 25, 2020. Rats have been our steadfast companions for millennia, traveling the world at our sides, devouring our refuse, decimating us through disease, and giving their lives to advance scientific knowledge. And yet, we barely understand our closest neighbors. Burrow into your favorite abandoned mattress and let the Quartz Daily Obsession reacquaint you with our furry friends.

Matters of debate

If you care about the planet, send fewer emails. Your inbox is contributing to the ballooning growth of energy-intensive data storage.

Retirement accounts are unnecessary. Work has changed, and young people today can expect to keep earning money well into their old age.

The unbanked need more than bans on cashless stores. It’s more important to help them access financial services like check cashing and loans without paying exorbitant fees.

Surprising discoveries

The US Navy bought $2.7 million worth of nothing. A crooked officer conspired with a civilian friend to dole out phony contracts and pocket the proceeds.

Your aged Scotch collection might be full of frauds. Scientists used radioactive particles from old nuclear tests to determine the true age of 221 bottles—and 40% weren’t as old as advertised.

$1 million in classic Corvettes are trapped in a collapsed building. A warehouse explosion flattened a nearby auto shop that specializes in antique cars.

Lake Victoria could dry up in 500 years. The world’s second biggest freshwater lake could be on its way out thanks to climate change and gradual shifts in the planet’s axis.

Scotland’s freemasons embraced vegans. Masonic authorities have decreed it’s okay to wear a faux-lambskin apron during rituals.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Scotch collection castoffs, and cruelty-free rituals to 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 Steve Mollman and Nicolás Rivero.