Weekend edition—Women march on, triangles of instability, smarter hearing

Good morning, Quartz readers!

The day after Donald Trump’s swearing-in as 45th president of the United States, thousands of people will join the Women’s March on Washington, or one of its many sister marches around the world, to remind the incoming administration that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” a motto coined by Hillary Clinton more than 20 years ago.

This should not be a partisan issue. Trump has said that he loves women—”cherishes” them even. But his presidency is the culmination of a campaign stained by sexism, and his proposed policies threaten substantial setbacks for American women—including a war on reproductive rights, a likely increase in health-care costs, and no plan to address the gender pay gap. Activists across the world hoping the US might advance on these issues will continue to look elsewhere for leadership.

The conversion of women’s rights into a partisan issue also masks another undeniable element of this activism: the economic benefits at stake. Fair pay, equal participation in the workforce, reproductive rights—when women, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, have their rights fulfilled, their countries grow faster, and more inclusively. According to a McKinsey report, fully equal workplace participation worldwide would add as much as $28 trillion to global annual GDP.

This progress is too important—ethically, socially, and economically—for anyone to be complacent. No government should stand in the way of a society where the minds and bodies of women are safe and supported, and where the roles of women are properly valued.

Women aren’t the only ones who carry the burden of reminding the world of this. It’s a task for all of us. —Annalisa Merelli


On the Formula E race track, a need for speed is becoming a need for data. For the DS Virgin team, data technology delivers actionable insights that give drivers a competitive edge—and other organizations can similarly benefit from a data driven approach. Tell us how your business uses data analytics to accelerate growth bytaking our brief survey here.


A paradigm shift in geopolitics. Anti-elitism will be a powerful driving force in geopolitical and financial events this year and probably beyond, ushering us into a new, unknown era, predicts Steve LeVine. Expect a backlash against Silicon Valley, and look for the US, North Korea, and Russia to form a “triangle of instability.” (For those concerned about democracy prevailing, here’s some advice onhow reading might help.)

And a paradigm shift for scientists. While a new administrationsets its sights on overturning now-former US president Barack Obama’s efforts on climate change, some scientists are working on ways to bring climate research to the attention of a wider audience. Antarctic scientist Ari Friedlaender talks to Georgia Frances King about the potential of storytelling to effect change—and lets us know how the whales are doing.

In or out of Africa? Donald Trump’s transition team has spent the last few weeks coming to grips with how the United States is run, including how it spends foreign aid. As part of that process, the team sent a four-page list of Africa-related queries to the US State Department, probing how much funding is being stolen, and asking why Africa should receive aid when people in the US are suffering. Quartz Africa reporters Lily Kuo, Abdi Latif Dahir, and Yomi Kazeem set about trying to bring some perspective to those queries.

Indian mixologists go retro. Long before a burgeoning bar scene spawned celebrity mixologists with hip cocktail recipes, the most refreshing, distinctive drinks in India were made by village grandmothers, write Suneera Tandon and Maria Thomas. Now these traditional drinks, with their dazzling complexity and interplay of sweet and salty, sour, bitter, and floral flavors, are making a comeback in India’s hippest bars, transforming a basic Gimlet or Manhattan into something you won’t find anywhere else.

The earbuds of the future have brains. The Amazon Echo has proven audio’s power to be the medium through which we interact with our devices, but people still underestimate the power of putting computers in your ears. In a detailed look at the potential of “smarter hearing,” Dave Gershgorn test-drives the Here One, wireless earbuds from Doppler Labs that can make a conversation more understandable, a commute quieter, or, eventually, a real-time dialogue across languages possible.


Scandinavia’s supercyberspies. Hugh Eakin in the New York Review of Books describes a paradox: Despite Sweden’s image as a beacon of human rights and internet freedom, its small but proficient cyber-intelligence agency is one of the US’s closest collaborators in digital surveillance. Other countries, too, are expanding their snooping capabilities in response to growing threats to NATO from Russia and China, with only mild resistance from citizens and lawmakers.

The team trying to get you to “like” Mark Zuckerberg. From hoodie-wearing introvert to proud dad, eloquent speaker, and thoughtful CEO: Mark Zuckerberg’s image has evolved significantly over the last few years, thanks in no small part to the employees managing his Facebook page, Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier writes. From deleting spam to interspersing soft-focus pictures with user stats updates, Zuckerberg’s page is a revealing mix of how conflated his personal image is with that of his company.

Why statistics have failed us. From William Davies in the Guardian comes a convincing explanation for the loss of trust in experts and the rise of populism and post-truth politics. Statistical categories and methods didn’t evolve to keep pace with rapid changes in society and the economy. As a result, their generalizations became increasingly divorced from individual experience and they—and people who relied on them—lost credibility.

Shipping, the world’s biggest invisible industry. In an excerpt on Longreads from a new book by Rose George, the author of Ninety Percent of Everything marvels at how container ships bring almost all our goods to us yet remain one of the least transparent industries. Boarding a vessel belonging to Maersk—“the Coca-Cola of freight with none of the fame”—she reflects that shipping involves environmental and labor issues as serious as those in industries like mining, yet has almost entirely avoided similar levels of public concern and scrutiny.

Barack Obama prepares for a third term. Obama might have thought being the first African-American US president was going to be the biggest political battle of his lifetime, but he’s now gearing up for a potentially bigger fight to protect progressive ideals, and his legacy, under a Trump presidency. “You can lock in progress for generations if you win three in a row,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former White House senior adviser, tells GQ’s Jason Zengerle. “Some of the battles that would have been settled with a Clinton win will now continue for the next 4 to 20 years.”

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, PR-perfected Facebook pages, and Indian cocktail recipes to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.



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