Brexit advances, SpaceX’s historic launch, presidential facial hair

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Next Brexit steps. Britain’s House of Lords will begin debating the Brexit bill after it passed in the House of Commons two weeks ago. While the House of Lords is not expected to block the proposed legislation entirely, it could force prime minister Theresa May to do more to guarantee EU citizen rights.

The EU talks diplomacy, trade, and Greece. US vice president Mike Pence meets with EU leaders in Brussels to discuss the implications of the Trump administration’s “America first” policies. Also Monday, eurozone finance ministers will meet, with Greece’s next bailout loan a focus, and a European Parliament delegation arrives in Mexico for trade talks.

Japan measures production. Manufacturing and all-sector production data are expected; analysts will look to see if the manufacturing industry’s growth is sustained after January numbers showed the fastest expansion in almost three years.

It’s President’s Day in the US. Financial markets are closed for the public holiday, as are most banks and public schools.

Over the weekend

SpaceX had a successful and historic launch. A day after its launch was postponed with 13 seconds left on the clock, the Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center at 9:38am ET on Sunday from a pad that hadn’t seen a liftoff in six years. NASA described the launch, which will deliver supplies to the International Space Station, as the beginning of a new phase of American operations in space.

The US tried to reassure Europe.  At a security summit in Munich dominated by discussions of “fake news,” US vice president Mike Pence emphasized the country’s commitment to its European allies, while German chancellor Angela Merkel called for global cooperation. Europeans, meanwhile, were baffled by US president Donald Trump’s reference to a nonexistent “night of terror” in Sweden at a rally in Florida on Saturday.

China punished North Korea. In a move that will bolster UN sanctions, China announced it would suspend coal imports from North Korea until the end of the year, an expression of its frustration over the country’s nuclear missile development. North Korea was China’s fourth largest supplier of coal last year.

Kraft Heinz let go of Unilever. American food giant Kraft Heinz announced it was withdrawing a $143 billion bid to acquire Anglo-Dutch consumer products company Unilever 48 hours after making it public. The bid could have resulted in the world’s largest food company but it was quickly rejected by Unilever.

The “godfather” of radical Islamist movements died. Egyptian-born spiritual leader Omar Abdel Rahman died at age 78 in a US federal prison Saturday. Rahman was convicted in 1995 of coordinating terrorist plots against the US, and became a powerful symbol among radical extremists during his imprisonment.

Quartz obsession interlude

Alison Griswold on why Uber has absolutely no good reason for keeping tipping out of its app. “Uber hasn’t abstained from tipping because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do, as famed restaurateur Danny Meyer explained when he debuted a no-tipping policy at The Modern, a pricey dining spot in midtown Manhattan. Uber cuts prices relentlessly and has fought tooth and nail in court to avoid classifying its drivers as employees, a status that confers both minimum-wage protection and benefits. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is no Danny Meyer.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US is forgetting the lessons of World War II. The same fear-based rhetoric that was used to intern Japanese Americans 75 years ago is now being used to justify far-reaching immigration orders.

Robots should pay taxes. The money would help slow down automation and fund other types of employment, Bill Gates argues.

Addressing racism in the arts is a risk worth taking. Privileged artists like Marc Jacobs and Adele help level the playing field by acknowledging the frequently sidelined.

Surprising discoveries

It’s been over a century since a US president had facial hair. Leaders of the free world have bristled at the idea since 1913.

There’s a Swedish company with no one in charge. The staff at software firm Crisp make decisions during four-day meetings held a few times a year.

Havana’s international book fair is a massive party. A nearly 100% literacy rate and a turnout of half a million people make the annual event anything but bookish.

Smokers in Indonesia are defending their right to light up. They insist stricter tobacco regulation is part of a culture war waged by the West.

Researchers have discovered new microbial life-forms trapped in crystals. The still-viable organisms from deep inside a Mexican cave are believed to be up to 50,000 years old.

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