#Mexico’s wall-bashing, #Harvard’s outsourcing, #Kiwi sheep suits

Good morning, Quartz readers!


Scientists decide whether the “Doomsday clock” needs adjusting. Donald Trump’s stance on nuclear arms, refusal to address climate change, and disregard for science in general may beinching the world toward disaster. At 10am ET, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will announce whether the minute hand will move closer to midnight.

Britain kickstarts Brexit maneuvers. Theresa May’s governmentwill publish legislation seeking parliamentary approval to begin divorce proceedings from the EU. One think tank believes the Article 50 bill could pass as soon as February, though March looks more likely.

Gambia’s new president comes home. Adama Barrow is returning from Senegal, where he took refuge during a standoff with ex-leader Yahyah Jammeh. One urgent bit of business he’ll need to address: It turns out his just-appointed vice president, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, is past the constitutional age limit.


Mexico’s president rejected Trump’s border wall. In a televised address Enrique Peña Nieto assured his countrymen that Mexico would not pay for the wall, as the US president has suggested. That followed Trump ordering construction of the wall, one of his campaign pledges. Peña Nieto reportedly is considering canceling a visit with Trump scheduled for next week.

China ordered banks to curb new loans in the first quarter. The new guidance focused on mortgage lending in particular, as the nation grapples with runaway property prices. The central bank said it might punish lenders that don’t comply by making them pay more for deposit insurance.

The Philippines registered strong growth. The nation’s GDP increased 6.6% from a year earlier in the fourth quarter, while the economy expanded 6.8% in 2016. Economists expect the fast growth to continue in the years ahead, with the nation’s gainsmimicking those enjoyed by nearby Malaysia and Thailand as they industrialized in the 1990s.

The world’s richest university is outsourcing its $35 billion endowment. Harvard University is reportedly laying off half of its 230 staffers and shutting its internal hedge funds. The real-estate division will be spun off into a new entity that will continue to invest some of Harvard’s billions.


Eshe Nelson on the downgrade of the United States to a “flawed democracy.” “The US has been ‘teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy’ for years, a new report says… Trust has been declining in the US for decades, leaving the country’s institutions battling a ‘legitimacy crisis’ and struggling to sustain representative democracy in its current form.” Read more here.


China should reduce its trade surplus with the US. Beijing has a clear path (paywall) to undisputed superpower status, but it needs to prevent a trade war.

Angela Merkel’s re-election is far from assured. Her coalition partner has chosen the popular Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, as her opponent in this year’s election.

The stock market doesn’t really care who’s president. The US commander-in-chief has very little to do with the economy’s performance.


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The US constitution is stored in an atomic bomb-proof vault. A special elevator carries the country’s foundational documentsunderground every night.

Elon Musk is building a tunnel under SpaceX. It’s not exactly clear why, but the billionaire has tweeted that traffic is “driving him nuts.”

After a 19-year wait, Japan has a sumo grand champion. The 30-year-old Kisenosato ended decades of dominance by Mongolian wrestlers.

Chasing sheep is illegal in New Zealand. So a famed rodeo isemploying men dressed like sheep as a substitute.

British health officials launched a crusade against burnt toast.It contains a chemical compound that is a probable carcinogen.

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