Sprint x T-Mobile, high-speed rail, broken piano

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

A judge is expected to approve the Sprint and T-Mobile merger. The $26.5 billion deal had been accepted by federal regulators but blocked by state attorneys general. They had argued that the merger of the third and fourth US wireless carriers would result in higher prices.

The WHO gathers to discuss coronavirus research. Experts and national representatives convene in Geneva to produce a global research agenda that prioritizes urgent projects for tackling the outbreak.

The New Hampshire primary takes place. Bernie Sanders is expected to win, while Elizabeth Warren is in a slump. This is likely to be Amy Klobuchar’s last chance to prove her viability, after a good debate performance. Candidates who perform poorly could leave the race.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to approve a controversial high-speed rail line. The system linking London to other major British cities is late, and wildly over budget, but will still proceed. Johnson promised to “level up” the UK by investing in the north.

While you were sleeping

Airbus unveiled an aircraft concept that blends wing and body. The European plane maker said the new design is more aerodynamic and can reduce carbon emissions, and revealed it at the muted Singapore Air Show, which had lost 70 exhibitors over coronavirus fears.

New Delhi election results trickled in. The vote is a popularity test for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi after months of protests against a controversial citizenship law. Early results indicated that his party performed poorly.

The Philippines ended its troop agreement with the US. President Rodrigo Duterte made the decision after he learned that the US had rescinded his visa over his violent drug war. The termination means thousands of US soldiers in the country no longer have legal status.

The coronavirus outbreak reached two milestones. The death toll went over 1,000 people and the daily death toll surpassed 100 people for the first time. The government of the province where the outbreak started in China removed two health officials.

The British economy stagnated. New GDP figures showed 0% growth in the fourth quarter of last year, as Brexit-related uncertainty  took a toll on businesses.  

Quartz membership

No US firm in recent memory has been more disruptive to retail than Amazon. It occupies an estimated 38% of online sales in the US, and a far bigger proportion of books, music, and video. Understand the company’s dominance with this week’s members’ field guide. 

Quartz daily obsession

What does “late capitalism” even mean? It’s paying $400 for a pair of jeans that comes flecked with fake mud; it’s a prophetic interpretation of Marxism that predicts that the end of capitalism is nigh; and it’s a meme-ified cry of despair at the inequalities and absurdities of our economy. Unlike Karl Marx’s grave, the Quartz Daily Obsession is free and open to the public.

Matters of debate

Silicon Valley’s toxic masculinity contains a deep sadness. A new memoir shows how blind faith in data and quantification leaves little space for humanity.

Your laptop, not your smartphone, destroyed your life-work balance. Lightweight, portable computers blurred the line irreparably.

It’s about time that the performance review received a performance review. The much-disliked corporate annual rite should become a weekly review.

Surprising discoveries

This year’s Oscars was the least viewed ever. Just 23.6 million people watched the ceremony, down from 29.5 million last year.

Chinese cities halted cold medicine sales to get coronavirus patients into hospitals… Authorities aim to flush out infected people staying at home and self-medicating.

…and a Brit said he couldn’t leave Wuhan because he overdressed. His temperature was high because he wore a hoodie and a jacket to the airport.

The T. rex had terrifying great-grandparents. A new tyrannosaur ancestor discovered in Canada, dubbed the “reaper of death,” devoured hapless herbivores 79 million years ago.

It’s a bad time for musical instruments. After customs officers destroyed a Malian musician’s kora, movers broke a rare piano belonging to a leading Canadian musician.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, koras, and pianos 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 Luiz Romero and Hasit Shah.