Svalbard seed vault, Sweden-China rift, Warren Buffet’s phone

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Post-Brexit trade developments. British ministers will sign off on the country’s negotiating demands, while the EU will publish a list of its priorities. The UK aims to have complete independence from Europe by Jan. 1 whether or not there’s a trade deal.

New seeds will be put into Svalbard’s doomsday vault. Seeds of hundreds of plants will be placed for safety in Norway’s Arctic archipelago, the single biggest deposit since the vault opened in 2008.

The US and India sign an arms deal in New Delhi. On the second day of president Donald Trump’s visit to the country, India will commit to buying $3 billion in military equipment, though a broader trade deals is still out of reach. Ahead of Trump’s arrival in the capital, five people were killed in fresh protests over the controversial citizenship law.

While you were sleeping

A Chinese court sentenced a Hong Kong bookseller to prison. Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen, was among the booksellers who disappeared in 2015 and later re-appeared in detention in China. A court today handed him a 10-year sentence for “illegally providing intelligence overseas.” The ruling is likely to further worsen Sweden-China relations.

The White House proposed an emergency coronavirus budget… The budget office sent lawmakers a $2.5 billion plan that would cover vaccine development, treatment, and protective equipment, as fears of the disease heightened in the US. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.6% yesterday.

…And the outbreak continued to worsen in South Korea. The number of cases rose to 893 with nine dead, as more countries stepped up travel restrictions. The US raised its alert level for Korea, advising against any non-essential travel there.

HP fortified its defenses against Xerox. The company said it would increase its share buyback program to $15 billion, as it courts supports from investors to fend off a $35 billion takeover bid from its rival. Xerox earlier raised its offer for HP to $24 per share, and plans to tender an offer early next month.

Quartz membership

TikTok is China’s first truly global app. With hundreds of millions of monthly users and burgeoning TikTok stars, ByteDance’s hit video app is here to stay. But “TikTok’s roots are a double-edged sword,” writes Quartz reporter Jane Li. This week’s field guide for members tells you why.

Quartz daily obsession

Leopard print spottings are on the rise. Throughout history, the fabric has been the preserve of royalty, the priesthood, high society ladies, and pinup models, but today it’s for anyone who’s bold enough to wear it. Leopard print’s democratization has a lot to do with technological advances that allow machines to cheaply recreate the complex pattern, and with fashion doyens who have decided it’s now “neutral.” Accessorize your mind with the Quartz Daily Obsession.

Matters of debate

Corporations speak “garbage language.” What does “parallel path” even mean?

Italy’s coronavirus hysteria is reminiscent of the Black Death. Just as in the Middle Ages, mobs are taking their anxieties out on scapegoated minorities.

Making friends as an adult doesn’t have to be so hard. Just approach it like dating.

Surprising discoveries

The North Pole is responsible for the world’s warmest winter yet. A low-pressure system has drawn the jet stream north, locking frosty temperatures away.

Some ants use their poison to disinfect foods. Unless, of course, they choose to spray that acid at enemies.

The Friends cast members are each making $2.5 million to hang out for an hour. That’s the price of an unscripted reunion special to publicize HBO’s acquisition of the show’s catalogue.

A lost 18th century crown made its way back to Ethiopia. The rare artifact had been stashed in the home of a political exile who kept it secret until reformist PM Abiy Ahmed came to power.

Warren Buffett finally got a smartphone. The billionaire gave up his signature flip phone and bought an iPhone 11—after purchasing 5.6% of Apple.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Central Perk coffee, and lost crowns 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 Isabella Steger and Mary Hui.