🌏 China snaps back

Plus: It’s-a here, Super Nintendo World!
A man looks at the container goods sitting outside the Lockheed Martin booth during the Singapore Airshow media preview.
A man looks at the container goods sitting outside the Lockheed Martin booth during the Singapore Airshow media preview.
Photo: Suhaimi Abdullah (Getty Images)

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China sanctioned two major US defense contractors. Lockheed Martin and a unit of Raytheon have been blacklisted following their sale of arms to Taiwan.

Adani Group backed out of buying DB Power. The embattled conglomerate scrapped its $847 million bid to purchase the power plant operator weeks after a short-seller report wiped billions from its market value.

Lufthansa canceled 1,200 flights. Strikes today (Feb. 17) in Frankfurt and Munich will disrupt service just days after an IT failure grounded the German carrier’s fleet.

Spain approved paid menstrual leave. Europe’s first country to rubberstamp the policy also passed laws to expand abortion access and transgender rights for teens.

The UN called for $1 billion to help Turkey’s earthquake victims. Secretary-general António Guterres said the funds would aid 5.2 million people over three months. A new report has found the earthquakes could lead to a 1% loss in Turkey’s GDP this year.

Jumia reported fourth quarter results. The African e-commerce startup laid off 20% of its staff last quarter, saying the move helped to trim its losses by 30% compared to a year earlier.

What to watch for

Gif: Giphy

A theme park, inspired by the world of everyone’s favorite plumber, is opening in California today (Feb. 17) at Universal Studios Hollywood. The opening of Super Nintendo World marks the second theme park collaboration between the Comcast-owned US entertainment giant and Japan’s video game behemoth, with the first having opened in Osaka, Japan in 2021.

The roots of the collaboration were planted in 2015, when Nintendo looked for ways to recover its shine after the failure of its Wii U console. For Universal, working with Nintendo meant expanding its movie-inspired roster of parks and resorts to the video game world. It also led to Universal’s first Nintendo film, Super Mario Bros. Movie, due for release on Apr. 7 (and which unfortunately doesn’t star Pedro Pascal).

California is only the first stop in Mario’s US adventure. Universal plans to add a Super Nintendo World to its Orlando, Florida, theme park by 2025.

Ford needs China’s help

Almost exactly a century ago, Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, wrote a letter to Henry Ford. He asked Ford to help China build a “new industrial system.” Ford kept it curt and short: No thanks.

That rejection hasn’t held up well. As the US tries to rebuild its own industrial base, companies are looking to none other than China for assistance. In a move that would make Alanis Morissette feel the irony, Ford’s new $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan will use technology licensed from the Chinese battery giant CATL.

CATL has aggressively expanded production in Europe, but has yet to open a factory in the US, making its deal with Ford a huge win. US politicians and Chinese regulators have criticized the arrangement, but it’s unclear if geopolitical concerns will be able to override commercial interests.

How consumers got hooked on fish sticks

Frozen hunks of pollock were among the unlikeliest of heroes during the pandemic. Yet shoppers gobbled up more of the “futuristic” 1950s food as they caught nostalgia for simpler times, giving a boost to food suppliers and manufacturers for a product that even has sustainability perks.

🎧 Last year on the Quartz Obsession podcast, Liz Webber cast her line even farther and took host Kira Bindrim on a tour of the fish stick industry’s briny depths.

All aboard, podcast lovers! Season 4 of the Quartz Obsession is about to cast off.

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Surprising discoveries

The derailed train in East Palestine, Ohio had a notorious nickname. Rail workers called the locomotive “32 Nasty” for a reason.

A cancer patient developed an Irish brogue. Cases of foreign accent syndrome are rare, but not unheard of.

Curly hair may have some cool origins. The hair type could have developed to fend off heat.

Astrophysicists found a perfect kilanova. Two smashing neutron stars exploded into a sphere.

Parents are sticking their kids in Russian Math. Probably beats Rushing Math, which happens on the bus 10 minutes before school.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, notorious nicknames, and spontaneous accents to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Ananya Bhattacharya, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.