Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Japan considers expanding its ban on travelers from China… Prime minister Shinzo Abe will hold a cabinet meeting to discuss banning all foreigners who have recently been to China’s Zhejiang province, in addition to Hubei, the province at the outbreak’s epicenter. The government is also considering letting some passengers off a cruise ship quarantined near Yokohama.
…while the EU decides whether to revoke Cambodia’s trade preferences. Cambodia benefits from the EU’s “Everything But Arms” trade program which allows duty-free exports from developing countries, but Europe threatened to roll back the protections over human rights abuses.
Google goes to EU court. It hopes to appeal antitrust fines levied against it by the European Union Competition Commission, who charged it with prioritizing its own price comparison tool in searches. Just this week, commissioner Margrethe Vestager was petitioned by 40 entities from nine countries, concerned about Google giving similar special treatment to its own vacation rental product.
While you were sleeping
Narendra Modi was disappointed in New Delhi. The Indian prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party lost heavily to Delhi’s incumbent chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, snagging only eight of the 70 available seats. The BJP had hoped to unseat Kejriwal, but protests against its citizenship law have cooled the party’s popularity.
The US indicated diplomacy headway with the Afghan Taliban. A deal, which the White House is terming a “reduction in violence announcement,” is yet to be formally presented, but is expected to pave the way for the government to make good on Donald Trump’s promise to start bringing troops home from Afghanistan.
Airbnb traveled downhill. According to the Wall Street Journal, the short-term rental company dropped into the red for the first nine months of 2019, after steady profitability in past years—the same profitability that was expected to push its anticipated 2020 IPO to unicorn status.
A judge approved the Sprint and T-Mobile merger. The $26.5 billion deal had been accepted by federal regulators but blocked by California and New York’s attorneys general, whose antitrust arguments were ultimately rejected by a federal judge. One more regulating body has to sign off before the two can become one, but Sprint stock rose on the news.
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Z Flip. After much buzz, the foldable phone debuted at Samsung’s annual “Unpacked” event as a hopefully more durable follow-up to the Galaxy Fold’s first generation. The Z Flip, available Friday, could finally usher in a true age of foldable tech, assuming it lasts for the 200,000 folds its marketing promises.
Amazon is getting physical. With more than 500 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, the e-commerce giant is rapidly expanding its offline presence, reports Quartz’s Marc Bain. Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon’s bet on physical stores.
Quartz daily obsession
Rooibos may seem like a recent novelty, but South Africa has been sipping on it for generations. While the legacy of colonization and apartheid has left rooibos production almost entirely in the hands of white growers and processors, South Africa has taken potentially ground-breaking steps to compensate indigenous communities who discovered the plant long before the rest of the world jumped on the teawagon. Lift your pinky, it’s the Quartz Daily Obsession.
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.
It’s about time that the performance review received a performance review. The much-disliked corporate annual rite should become a weekly review.
Our world is built for search engines. Producers renamed Birds of Prey to optimize the film for Google searches.
A 75-year-old wants to become the oldest professional footballer. Ezzeldin Bahader is training with a third-tier Egyptian club in the hopes of breaking a 73-year-old goalie’s record.
People born blind are safe from schizophrenia… The strange correlation might point to a link between vision and psychotic disorders.
…but not from misleading Facebook ad placement. For two years, the social network didn’t differentiate friends’ posts from ads when people navigated the site with screen readers.
The CIA secretly owned the company that made the world’s encryption devices. Spies used Crypto AG’s products to listen in on the secret communications of enemies and allies alike.
A robot is dispensing coronavirus knowledge in Time Square. The bot doles out reassurances and advice to passersby. Pro tip: Fist bumps spread fewer germs than handshakes.
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