Good morning, Quartz readers!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Rex Tillerson’s first overseas trip could be a tough one. 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.
The US Commerce Department releases 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.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals tries to regain investor trust. After months of management churn, the US biotech company will report fourth-quarter results (pdf). Its CEO and CFO resigned in Decemberamid claims of improper sales practices involving its blood disorder drug Soliris.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
Trump said he could “live with” a one-state solution in Israel.He discarded a long-standing US foreign policy priority, touting his deal-making expertise and trust in son-in-law and unofficial Middle East envoy Jared Kushner. “I’m looking at two states and one state and… I could live with either one,” he said at a press conference alongside Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The US labor secretary nominee pulled out. Fast food CEO Andy Puzder withdrew his nomination after weeks of growing pressure over domestic violence accusations and hiring an undocumented maid. Puzder’s withdrawal adds chaos to an already-struggling Trump administration, still reeling from national security advisor Michael Flynn’s firing.
Canada Goose filed for an IPO. In the process the maker of pricey winter jackets also revealed its sales numbers and ambitions for the years ahead. The Canadian company’s expansion in the US appears to have paid off, with its neighbor quickly becoming its biggest customer last year.
Venezuela ordered CNN off the air due to 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.
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 its 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. Thevibrational 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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