Jack Ma visits Obama, Olympic doping scandal widens, “excess sunlight” delays

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Mark Zuckerberg meets with conservatives. The Facebook founder sits down with right-wing media outlets to talk about allegations that Facebook’s trending news curators habitually suppressed stories with a conservative bent.

Japan rebounds, ever so slightly. The economy is expected to have grown by a tiny sliver in the first quarter, boosted by the additional day of the leap year, as prime minister Shinzo Abe prepares to launch “Abeonomics 2.0.”

Earnings, earnings: Tencent, Target, Cisco, Lowe’s, Staples, SABMiller, Burberry, and Salesforce.com all report their quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

Jack Ma quietly met with Barack Obama. The founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba—who is Asia’s richest man, according to some estimates—told reporters outside the White House that his meeting with the US president was “very good.” An Alibaba representative declined to discuss the nature of their discussion.

The US eased sanctions on Myanmar. The move, ahead of a visit by US secretary of state John Kerry next month, is designed to reward the country’s transition to democracy. But human rights concerns remain: leader Aung San Suu Kyi won’t admit that the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority even exists.

Dozens of Olympic athletes may face doping bans… After re-testing more than 400 blood and urine samples from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, officials announced that the tests of 31 athletes from 12 countries had produced suspicious results. The athletes, whose names have not been disclosed, could be banned from competing in Rio this summer.

… and the US government is investigating Russia’s Olympic doping. The same office that broke the FIFA bribery scandal has opened a criminal probe of Russia’s state-sponsored sports cheating. The New York Times reports that prosecutors are going after Russian government officials, coaches, athletes, and watchdogs on fraud and conspiracy charges.

US lawmakers advanced a bill that would let 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia. The White House has vowed to veto the measure if it gets through Congress, and the Saudis, who deny responsibility for the attacks, have threatened to sell $750 billion in American assets if it becomes law.

The Alberta wildfire reached Canada’s oil sands camps. About 12,000 oil workers were told to flee from facilities around Fort McMurray, the town abandoned earlier this month because of the blaze. The wildfire is expected to burn for several more weeks.

Quartz markets haiku

Investors thinking
The Fed could raise interest rates
Sent stocks tumbling down

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on the World Bank’s decision to drop “developing country” from its data presentations: “The change marks an evolution in thinking about the geographic distribution of poverty and prosperity. But it sounds less radical when you consider that nobody has ever agreed on a definition for these terms in the first place.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

In the future, computers will be trained like dogs. Machine learning could spell the end of software coding as we know it.

Free will doesn’t exist, but that’s not the point. We need to believe we’re morally responsible for our actions, even if biology is actually in charge.

Startup founders are not tragic Greek heroes. We shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss entrepreneurs who don’t fit the archetype.

Surprising discoveries

The US postal service almost invented email. The proposal for Electronic Computer Originated Mail was ultimately rejected.

Ford is trying to make car seats out of carbon dioxide. The goal is a car made entirely out of sustainable materials.

“Excess sunlight” caused train delays in London. Drivers couldn’t safely exit platforms when bright rays blocked their CCTV monitors.

Iraq shut down the internet to stop cheating on exams. It’s the second year in a row.

A jelly bean mogul is being sued for a gruesome tank accident. Jelly Belly chair Herman Rowland owns a World War II-era 1944 M5 tank that fatally struck a man last year.

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