Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Rex Tillerson’s first overseas trip. The US secretary of state begins a two-day meeting with counterparts from the G20 in Germany. There should be plenty to talk about, from Kremlin-White House relations to the “One China” policy. His meeting with Russia’s foreign minister will be closely watched, after US national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned over his phone calls with Russia’s ambassador.
What killed Kim Jong-nam? Malaysian authorities have completed an autopsy and will reportedly release results today, after the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un died in a probable poisoning in Kuala Lumpur airport on Monday. A second female suspect has been arrested.
Justin Trudeau feels the love in Europe. The Canadian leader will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which yesterday approved the Canada-EU trade agreement. Then it’s on to Berlin to meet outgoing German president Joachim Gauck and have lunch with chancellor Angela Merkel, and Hamburg where he’s guest of honor at a St. Matthias day dinner.
US data on housing starts. The competing forces of stronger sentiment on the one hand and higher interest rates on the other are expected to result in the number being slightly down in January (paywall). Figures on building permits will also be released.
While you were sleeping
Snap set its IPO valuation. The messaging-app company’s valuation will be between $19.5 billion and $22.2 billion (paywall), reports the Wall Street Journal. This is at the lower end of what was expected, but will still make it the largest US-listed tech offering since Alibaba went public in 2014. Some investors think Snap’s overvaluing itself since growth in its daily average user base is slowing down.
Venezuela shut down CNN. The National Telecommunications Commission said it was pulling the plug on the channel because of its “direct aggressions” against the country. The decision comes a few days after CNN aired an investigation into an alleged scheme to sell fraudulent passports and visas at Venezuela’s embassy in Iraq. Venezuelan officials denied the report.
Air France-KLM’s profit took off. The Franco-Dutch airline saw profit soar from €118 million in 2015 ($126 million at today’s rates) to €792 million in 2016 (paywall), buoyed by cheap oil, which it said knocked €1.5 billion off its fuel bill. Shares in the airline flew up by 8% early Thursday, on course for their best day in a year.
Peugeot and General Motors fared badly in Europe. The French car group and GM-owned Opel lost market share to Fiat Chrysler in January. That’s not good news for the carmakers, who are currently in talks about a possible sale of GM’s European car business to Peugeot. GM has lost around $9 billion in the EU market since 2009 because of high costs and competition on prices.
Lenovo got hammered by phone rivals. The world’s biggest PC maker’s third-quarter profit was down 67% from the same quarter a year ago. Its mobile-phone business stuttered, it lost PC market share to its main rival HP in North America, and it was hounded by phone maker Huawei. Lenovo’s smartphone shipments fell 26% globally.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jenny Anderson on the mathematician who proved there’s no such thing as a bad math student. “John Mighton has identified two major problems in how we teach math. First, we overload kids’ brains… Second, we divide classes by ability, creating hierarchies which disable the weakest learners while not benefitting the top ones.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Kim Jong-un is securing his reign. The North Korean dictator’s potential rivals are nearly all dead.
People who lose power tend to embrace conspiracy theories. US Democrats, for example, are now more vulnerable (paywall) to misinformation.
The Fed should reconsider taking things slow. The central bank needs to raise interest rates more quickly.
A US trade court ruled that Snuggies are blankets, not garments. The decision is a win for their manufacturer, which will now pay a lower import duty.
Kanye West trained an AI to rap. A high-school student used the rapper’s verses to show a neural network the basics of hip-hop.
Honeybees “whoop” when they bump into each other. The vibrational pulses were previously thought to be requests for food.
Lloyd’s of London banned boozy lunches. The move was reportedly prompted by “stories of brokers sitting in pubs handing out contracts like Jabba the Hutt” (paywall).
Ebola “super-spreaders” are largely responsible for outbreaks. More than 60% of people with the virus got it from 3% of infected people.
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