Alibaba checks in, coronavirus cancellations, ghost DNA

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Alibaba and Nissan check in. The Chinese e-commerce behemoth will be posting its fourth-quarter results for 2019, and though numbers are expected to be strong, investors will be listening for hints on how coronavirus is currently affecting Alibaba’s operations. Fresh off the filing of a new lawsuit against former chair Carlos Ghosn, Nissan is projected to announce a quarterly decline.

Japan extends its travel ban. Foreign nationals attempting to enter Japan from Zhejiang province—or anyone holding a Chinese passport issued in that province—will be barred at the gates. The Hubei province, where Covid-19 virus originated, was already covered under the ban. Meanwhile, European Union health ministers are getting together in Brussels to discuss next steps.

Boris Johnson reshuffles his cabinet. The UK prime minister’s reconfiguring is rumored to be widespread, with possible ousters going as high up as the attorney general. Foreign secretary, home secretary, and chancellor of the exchequer are expected to stay put.

While you were sleeping

Organizers canceled the Mobile World Congress. Multiple participants of the world’s biggest phone show, scheduled for February 24 in Barcelona, had already pulled out due to concerns over coronavirus. On the plus side, China reported just 2,015 new cases on Tuesday, the smallest number since Jan. 30.

Pope Francis sidestepped the question of married priests. The pontiff effectively denied requests for married men to be ordained as priests and women as deacons as a way to cope with the severe shortage of clergy to perform sacraments in South America’s Amazon region.

China’s central bank filed 84 patents for its digital currency. The filings detail the People’s Bank of China’s plans for issuing digital renminbi, how bank customers can exchange their deposits for virtual coins, and the integration of digital wallets.

BP aims to be net zero by 2050. The oil giant pledged to neutralize its carbon footprint in 30 years by reducing its oil and gas output and offsetting its emissions through tree planting and carbon capture.

Italy’s senate green-lit the trial of far-right leader Matteo Salvini. The former interior minister kept more than 110 migrants detained inside a ship for six days in mid-2019. The senate confirmed the lifting of his immunity, allowing prosecutors to press charges. He could get 15 years in prison.

Quartz membership

Amazon is struggling to truly go global. Quartz’s Marc Bain walks through the competitors and regulatory hurdles that make international growth one of the few areas where Amazon has fallen short of its outsized ambitions. 

Quartz daily obsession

Currently cruising along in interstellar space, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are the most distant human-made objects—not to mention the longest-running NASA mission. But it’s not always smooth sailing, and it doesn’t help that the spacecraft are running on ancient technology. Still, the Voyager mission isn’t done quite yet. The Quartz Daily Obsession directs your gaze towards the little spacecraft that could.

Matters of debate

The Indian auto industry will bounce back. Rajiv Prasad, president for India operations at JK Tyre & Industries, told Quartz there are blue skies ahead. Read more predictions on the future of jobs in India.

Ban China’s wild animal trade. If we want to thwart viral epidemics—and we do—we should be urging China to make its temporary ban permanent.

There could be a world war in the Arctic. The region has huge strategic significance—and lots to fight over.

Surprising discoveries

There are far fewer bugs splatting on your windshield. And that’s bad news for insect populations and the birds that eat them.

Zapping the brains of coma patients could wake them up. It’s worked in monkeys.

Americans have taken ex-stalking to another level. One in 10 admits to installing so-called stalkerware on the devices of partners and exes.

Scientists found ghost DNA in living West Africans. The discovery is evidence of an extinct branch of humanity that lived a million years ago.

The Parasite craze found its way into the noodle market. Inspired by a scene in the Oscar-winning film, people are mixing two types of noodles to make chapaguri (in the film’s English subtitles, it’s “ram-don”).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, one type of noodle, and another type of noodle 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 Liz Webber and Susan Howson.