Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today and over the weekend
Mark Zuckerberg accepts Facebook may have to pay more tax in Europe. The company’s CEO is scheduled to speak at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, alongside thirty-five heads of state, the NATO secretary general, and other high-ranking officials.
Mike Pompeo makes his first official trip to Africa. The US secretary of state starts his tour of Senegal, Angola, and Ethiopia tomorrow. The growing role of China on the continent is a key point of discussion.
US senators head to Ukraine. Two Republicans and one Democrat meet president Volodymyr Zelenskiy today in Kyiv, to re-emphasize the two countries’ strategic partnership. Ukraine was at the center of Donald Trump’s recent impeachment trial.
While you were sleeping
Germany’s economy stagnated. Preliminary estimates show that Europe’s largest economy failed to grow at all in the fourth quarter, compared to 0.2% in the previous three months. Last week, Germany posted its worst industrial production figures since 2009.
The WHO said coronavirus cases are stabilizing. According to the global health body, the mortality rate and number of infections have not shifted, apart from a spike in Hubei province. More than 1,300 people have died from the virus, including six health workers in China.
China ordered Tesla to recall more than 3,000 Model Xs. The country’s market regulator mandated the recall, to begin in June, because of a potential steering issue that could increase the chances of a collision.
RBS profits soared. The Edinburgh-based bank reported £3.1 billion ($3.98 billion) in annual profits, roughly double what it earned in 2018. The bank also announced it would rebrand as NatWest Group, perhaps because some 80% of its customers use its NatWest brand.
Billie Eilish released her Bond theme. The 18-year-old American released the official song for the upcoming No Time to Die movie on streaming sites, featuring her signature grungy melancholic vibe. She will perform the song at the Brit Awards on Feb. 18.
Direct-to-consumer brands could be the next chapter of ecommerce. From Dollar Shave Club to Warby Parker, new brands rely on strong brand identity and customer loyalty to drive sales, Quartz contributor Lawrence Ingrassia reports. But is that enough to beat Amazon?
Quartz daily obsession
Espresso proves that good things come in small packages. Though its receptacle is barely larger than a thimble, espresso is chemically complex, and brewing the perfect cup requires the mastery of temperature, pressure, and time. The Quartz Daily Obsession spills the beans.
Matters of debate
Let’s reconsider ordering takeout. It creates an enormous amount of plastic waste.
Coronavirus is upending China’s work culture. Many more people are working from home, and proving they’re just as productive.
We should revive the love letter. A handwritten note brings substance to the ephemeral.
SoftBank is behind a quarter of British fintech investment. Two deals alone by the Japanese giant amounted to $1.24 billion last year.
China has shared more coronavirus news with the world than its own citizens. Most Chinese people didn’t know their scientists sequenced the new virus last month, for example.
For $5, a Texas zoo will name a cockroach after your ex. And then they’ll feed it to an animal.
A sea of hairy tarantula skins could help clean up oil spills. Polish researchers behind the new concept say the eight-legged creatures have “very strong” water repellent properties.
Modern cars are catnip for rats. They love to gnaw on the wires and hoses—which can be costly and dangerous for vehicle owners.
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