Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Japan reports on its fourth-quarter GDP. Analysts expect the world’s third-largest economy took a hit thanks to a sales tax hike and weak overseas demand. China’s coronavirus outbreak might mean the current quarter isn’t much better.
Mark Zuckerberg visits EU commissioners. The Facebook CEO will meet with competition regulator Margrethe Vestager, who later this week will share proposals to create a single European data market—challenging the dominance of US tech giants.
EU foreign ministers discuss Libya. They’ll consider ways to enforce an arms embargo that “has become a joke,” as Stephanie Williams, a UN deputy special envoy for the country, put it this weekend. Turkey and the UAE continue to arm their allies in the country’s civil war.
US financial markets are closed in observance of Presidents Day.
Over the weekend
The Covid-19 death toll grew to double that of the SARS epidemic. Fatalities from the Wuhan coronavirus reached 1,655 in mainland China, while infections globally hit nearly 70,000. Meanwhile Taiwan recorded its first death, as did France, in the first fatality outside Asia.
Xi Jinping apparently had early knowledge of the coronavirus. State media released a speech about the disease that the Chinese leader reportedly delivered to top officials on Feb. 3, well before he spoke about it publicly. That could inadvertently open him up to criticism.
Trump mulled halting deliveries of jet engines to China. A competitor to Boeing and Airbus airliners that’s being developed in China depends on engines from a joint venture of GE and France’s Safran. GE is against any such restriction, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Alstom reached a preliminary deal to buy Bombardier’s train unit. The French rail giant would pay over $7 billion, reported the Wall Street Journal. Alstom is eager to achieve scale amid competition from China’s state-owned CRRC, the world’s largest rail supplier.
William Barr had a bad weekend. Over 1,100 former Justice Department officials called for the US attorney general to resign, suggesting he was “doing the president’s personal bidding” by interfering in the sentencing of Trump ally Roger Stone.
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Quartz daily obsession
BFF. Kiss me. Be mine. Conversation hearts are popular not for their chalky, bland taste, but because of their sentimental messaging. Candy hearts make up 40% of the Valentine’s Day candy market, and some 8 billion of them are sold between Jan. 1 and Feb. 14. Break open a box with the Quartz Daily Obsession.
Matters of debate
Subsidizing meat means subsidizing climate change. Governments shouldn’t prop up animal agriculture when it causes 14% of the world’s greenhouse emissions.
Germany’s 5G policy revolves around Donald Trump. Although the US president has inserted himself in the debate over Huawei, he’s an irrelevant distraction.
Brexit will make the UK more diverse. The breakup has discouraged European migrants, but immigration from the rest of the world is on the rise.
Crunchy foods could help fight obesity. Texture is tied up with how full we feel, and research suggests crunchier potato chips would make us feel more sated.
China is quarantining cash to curb coronavirus. Beijing has urged banks to disinfect used bills and lock them away for up to 14 days before recirculating them.
A Tennessee lawmaker worried women might go on a tampon-buying spree. The man had reservations about including feminine hygiene products in a state tax holiday.
A Japanese sanitation worker found ¥11 million ($100,121) in the trash. Ten envelopes of cash were stuffed in among the wreckage of a broken desk.
An Australian dentist forced Google to unmask a critical reviewer. A judge ordered the company to cooperate with the dentist’s defamation case against the anonymous author.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, extra-crunchy chips, and (disinfected) garbage money 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 brought to you by Steve Mollman and Nicolás Rivero.