Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—German elections, Davos invitees, Chinese bodyguards

January 20, 2013
January 20, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Results in a tight German regional election. The Lower Saxony contest is viewed as a test of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chances for winning a third term in office in September federal elections. As of late Sunday, exit polls showed Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party with about 36% of the vote, and speculation swirled around coalition possibilities.

The US celebrates the inauguration of President Barack Obama to his second (and final) four-year term. Obama was actually sworn in again Sunday, but the public ceremony—which includes Obama’s inaugural address and a performance of the national anthem by mega-music-star Beyoncé—is today at 11:30 a.m. ET (live video to be streamed here.) There’s no shortage of recommendations for Obama’s address and recaps of second addresses in history (George Washington’s was just four sentences long; frequently, presidents have discussed taxes.) As we’ve said, Quartz expects Obama to aggressively pursue his political agenda during this second term, with immigration and gun control among the first political fights he’s picking.

While you were sleeping

The hostage death toll in the Algeria hostage crisis rose to 48. Algerian officials had earlier said that all 32 militant Islamist hostage takers were killed amid a bloody rescue mission. The government said it would boost security at energy installations such as the one where the hostage-taking occurred, as oil and gas industry executives globally are examining security risks.

Rahul Gandhi delivered his first speech as the vice president of India’s ruling Congress party, addressing the hot button issues of corruption and women’s rights. Critics have blasted Gandhi’s appointment as nepotism—the 42-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family is the son of Congress President Sonia Gandhi—and have said it remains unclear where he stands on critical policies.

Quartz interlude

Quartz analyzed the confidential list of CEOs, heads of state and big thinkers expected in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum. Of the 2,600+ names on the list, “680 participants have ‘chief executive’ in their titles. Diageo CEO Paul S. Walsh and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer can expect to run into NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer, and Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat.” Read the full analysis, including rankings of global investment banks by attendees and the full searchable list, here.

Matters of debate

European VCs are just as successful as their US counterparts.

Internet “cloud” service providers can easily snoop on customers’ businesses.

The French are right to fight in Mali. But countering militancy will also require expansive diplomacy and patience.

Sitting around can be as lethal as smoking. Hence the fervor for standing desks, and walking meetings.

Surprising discoveries

A former Portuguese special forces operative is in Beijing training bodyguards. They’ll be shipped off to protect Chinese interests in turbulent areas of the Middle East and Africa.

Eric Schmidt’s daughter Sophie found Doritos snack chips in a North Korean supermarket during their recent trip. This despite US sanctions. She also found freezing indoor temperatures, as all buildings they visited were unheated.

Dutch architects plan to build a house using a 3-D printer. The printer uses a sand-based mixture to create sections as big as six meters by nine meters.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, favorite four-sentences speeches, and weird North Korea finds to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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