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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Icahn’s ceasefire, Syria’s peace talks, the gay NFL, Flappy Bird’s long tail

What to watch for today

Yellen sits in the hot seat. New Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will give her first statement to Capitol Hill—and face questions from US Congress—since taking the helm earlier this month. Despite recent economic weakness, Yellen is expected to continue the Fed’s bond purchase tapering.

Taiwan and China do the awkward diplomacy dance. Taiwanese and Chinese politicians meet for the first time since the end of their civil war in 1949 to discuss cross-strait relations, including how to maintain a free press and boost communications. Big surprise: China says the matter of Taiwan’s independence is off the table.

CVS Caremark reveals the state of the almighty drug store. The American drugstore chain is set to report fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.05, compared to $0.90 last year, on revenues of $32.67 billion. CVS has beaten analysts’ estimates every quarter for the last year, though no one’s sure what to make of its decision to stop selling tobacco products later this year. 

France awaits proof of Obama and Beyoncé’s alleged affair. A French photographer said he will release telling images in the Washington Post today (article in French) proving that the American president and popstar are having extra-marital relations. The Washington Post denied any involvement.

While you were sleeping

The EU and Cuba vowed to mend fences. The EU agreed to restart negotiations with Cuba with intending to relaunch full bilateral ties, six years after the bloc lifted its sanctions against the communist-led country. Cuba relies heavily on the EU for trade and tourism, but the EU wants Cuba to get serious about human rights.

Carl Icahn decided he’s all Appled out. The activist investor has dropped his campaign for Apple to increase its share buyback program by $50 billion, after advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended that investors vote against the proposal. All it took was $14 billion in stock repurchases and dinner with Tim Cook.

Financial sticklers called out the American justice system. Better Markets, a financial accountability non-profit, filed a lawsuit to prevent the DoJ from going ahead with the $13 billion JP Morgan settlement over the bank’s bad mortgages, claiming that the agreement was reached unlawfully, behind closed doors.

Syria talked peace but didn’t appease its people. The troubled Syrian government agreed to extend its ceasefire in the besieged city of Homs by three days during the second round of peace talks in Geneva, but citizens weren’t hopeful for a solution to the country’s three-year civil war, citing ongoing terrorism and unlivable conditions.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on how Asia’s cash-conscious middle class will fuel airlines’ traffic growth. “As households in emerging Asian countries grow wealthier, more are traveling domestically and to neighboring countries. These newly wealthy travelers are still budget-conscious, which is one reason why regional discount carriers have taken off so quickly. As of October, budget airlines accounted for over half of capacity in Southeast Asia’s four largest travel markets, compared to the 40% of the market that budget airlines in Europe (paywall) occupy, even though they’ve been in existence for almost twice as long.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Amazon is undermining books, not just their prices. It’s enforcing the idea that the book is an object of minimal value.

America has written off its unemployed. Its politicians aren’t acting to break the self-perpetuating cycle of long-term unemployment (paywall).

The NFL will never be ready for a gay player. But who cares? Ready or not, there are gay players in America’s National Football League and the country has to deal with it.

Cyberspace is just another weapon for abusive people. Domestic abuse has gone digital.

Surprising discoveries

The tooth fairy is less than 100 years old. But with the going rate now at $3.70 per tooth, she’s earning her keep for years to come.

Flappy Bird is dead, but its marketability lives on. There are iPhones with the app installed selling for thousands and millions of dollars on eBay, now that the hit game has been removed from the Apple Store.

People in relationships expect their partners to spend $240 on Valentine’s Day. A lot of men and women would be satisfied with just having sex, though.

Google is taking on animal poachers. It gave the World Wildlife Fund $5 million to develop thermal sensors and drones to help protect threatened animals.

The history of Apple is woven into The Simpsons and Futurama. Here’s a full roundup of the company’s mentions in the hit television shows over time.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Flappy Bird phones and tooth prices to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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