Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Dominic Raab starts his own trade tour. Now unhitched from the EU, the UK will send its foreign minister on a trip to Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia in an effort to hammer out new trade agreements. Separately, international trade secretary Liz Truss could unveil the UK’s negotiating mandate for a US trade deal.
Spanish and Catalan leaders meet. Prime minister Pedro Sánchez and president of the regional government Quim Torra will discuss the ongoing political crisis over Catalonia’s independence. Relations between the two have been highly strained since nine independence leaders were jailed last October for sedition.
Donald Trump talks about his acquittal. After US senators cleared the president of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, Trump will give a national address on what he called “our Country’s VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax.”
The UN discusses Syria. The security council will convene an emergency meeting following deadly clashes this week between the Turkish and Russian-backed Syrian military in the northwestern rebel-held province of Idlib. Meanwhile, the US president’s senior advisor, Jared Kushner, will brief the council’s ambassadors on the Middle East peace plan unveiled by Donald Trump last week.
While you were sleeping
The quarantined cruise ship in Japan recorded 10 more infections. A total of 20 passengers have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess, where some 3,700 passengers and crew are facing at least two weeks of quarantine. Another cruise liner is currently quarantined in Hong Kong.
Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg are nearly tied. New results from Monday’s Iowa caucus showed the two leaders neck-and-neck, with 97% precincts reporting.
China said it would halve tariffs on some US imports. The finance ministry said the reduction would go into effect at 1:01pm local time on Feb. 14, and reiterated its hopes of removing all tariffs in bilateral trade.
Kirk Douglas died aged 103. A self-made icon who starred in films like Paths of Glory and Spartacus, he was among the last surviving links to the golden age of Hollywood movies.
Bernie Madoff asked for an early prison release. The Ponzi scheme mastermind, currently serving a 150-year sentence, said he was dying from a terminal kidney disease and only has 18 months left to live.
Venture capital has a gender problem. In 2019, just 2.9% of invested dollars went to startups founded by all-women teams. But the industry is starting to change. Quartz contributor Dave Edwards reports on the strategies VCs are using to diversify their offices and portfolios.
Quartz daily obsession
Kali is the feminist icon the modern world needs. She is the Hindu goddess of death and destruction—but also a mother-figure and a representation of love. Her multiplicity isn’t a contradiction: Like a force of nature, she simply is. The goddess introduced a style of art, inspired the Rolling Stones logo, and launched a feminist magazine; and her ambivalent nature has been interpreted by competing factions for their own political purposes. Look in awe upon the Quartz Daily Obsession.
Matters of debate
Making book characters more “diverse” doesn’t promote diversity. At best, it’s shallow window dressing. At worst, it’s retroactive blackface.
Ad-targeting should be transparent. A publicly accessible archive of targeted ads would improve accountability.
McKinsey destroyed the US middle class. Technocratic management reinforces structural inequalities.
Researchers grew dates from 2,000-year-old seeds. The seeds were excavated from ancient caves and fortresses, and could help improve modern varieties.
OB-GYNs are using Reddit to give advice to the most desperate. The makeshift virtual clinics come in response to public budget cuts and anti-abortion legislation.
Penguins talk like humans. A new study found compelling evidence that African penguins have speech patterns similar to ours.
Archaeologists discovered the oldest wooden structure in the world. It’s a 7,000-year-old well in the Czech Republic.
Everyone wants one of Anguilla’s .ai domains. The small island raked in $2.9 million in 2018 for vanity URL registrations.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ancient dates, and Reddit clinics to email@example.com. 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 Mary Hui and edited by Isabella Steger.