Israel election, Buttigieg quits, rich dude drivers

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Boris Johnson holds his first coronavirus crisis meeting. The UK prime minister will convene the government’s emergency committee to finalize its plan to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak. Sixteen new cases were confirmed over the weekend, including the first case in Scotland. Separately, the UK formally kicks off trade talks with the EU, and will also lay out its negotiating position with the US.

Israel holds its third election in less than a year. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will seek an unprecedented fifth term, following two inconclusive votes in April and September. Looming over his re-election bid is a corruption trial starting on Mar. 17.

The OECD weighs in on Covid-19’s impact. The organization will update its economic outlook for the first time since November, before the coronavirus emerged. Up for debate is whether the global outbreaks will tip some European countries into recession.

Bulgarian and Turkish leaders meet. Boyko Borissov and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will discuss the the migrant situation and other developments in Syria, after Ankara said it would open its border and allow migrants to try and reach Greece and Bulgaria. The war in Syria has escalated in recent days, resulting in dozens of Turkish and Syrian casualties.

Over the weekend

China’s factory activity plunged to an all-time low. The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for last month slipped to 35.7—much worse than analysts’ already-low expectations. On the plus side, pollution levels are down.

Malaysia got a new prime minister. The ascendancy of former home minister Muhyiddin Yassin likely means policies favoring the Malay majority, potentially upending the multiracial government that took power in 2018. Expect a more religiously conservative administration in the largely Muslim nation.

The US recorded two Covid-19 deaths… The deaths were reported in the Seattle area, as officials warned of many more cases. Sequencing conducted by virologists found genetic links between two cases detected weeks apart in Washington state, suggesting the disease has likely spread in the region for weeks. To keep up with the latest developments on the epidemic, sign up for our new Covid-19 newsletter.

…and pressure grew on a South Korean religious cult. Officials sought a murder probe into leaders of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a major source of Covid-19 infections in the country. Church leaders allegedly obstructed health authorities’ contact-tracing efforts.

Joe Biden made a comeback. With strong backing from African-American voters, the US presidential candidate easily won the South Carolina Democratic primary, a much-needed victory for the former vice president. Pete Buttigieg, who earned only 3% of the vote, announced that he was ending his campaign.

The Taliban and the US signed a landmark deal in Qatar. But the agreement aimed at ending the years-long war has already run into obstacles, with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani claiming his government never promised to free Taliban prisoners, as stated in the deal as a condition for talks with the militants.

Quartz membership

“TikTok has taken India by storm,” writes Niharika Sharma. The Chinese video streaming app is a global sensation, and India has quickly become one of its largest markets. Quartz has the story on how TikTok made its way into Indian pop culture—and parliament.

Quartz daily obsession

Did you make the most of your Leap Year Day? Feb. 29 comes around once every four years—most of the time—and it helps the world stay in order. Without it, the calendar would fall out of sync with Earth’s rotation around the sun, and seasons would creep towards months they’d have no business being in. Plus, we’d be robbed of some pretty weird traditions. Banish the chaos with the Quartz Daily Obsession.

Matters of debate

Public transit should be free. Lower emissions and social and racial justice are good reasons for doing so.

Only the privileged can afford to be writers. Having the blind confidence to enter such a risky profession requires money.

“Late capitalism” is a dead scene. The ubiquitous term is just an excuse for adopting a conformist lifestyle.

Surprising discoveries

Australia’s summers are now twice as long as its winters. Hot temperatures now last on average 31 days longer than in the 1950s and 60s.

A web developer drew The Simpsons in pure code. The characters have been recreated using the CSS web language.

A high schooler tricked Twitter into verifying a fake US congressional candidate. It took the savvy teenager less than 30 minutes to get the coveted blue tick for a non-existent politician.

Wealthy motorists really are ruder. Drivers of more expensive cars are less likely to yield to pedestrians, but being white or female increases your odds of survival.

A dog’s nose can smell heat. Canines join just a handful of animals able to sense the weak thermal radiation of mammalian prey.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, more sunscreen, and Mr. Burns in code to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Mary Hui and edited by Isabella Steger.