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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama, Barclays, North Korean nuke, Finmeccanica, selling canned air

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

POTUS’ SOTU! President Obama delivers his State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday evening, which sets out his administration’s policy agenda for the year. He’ll likely spotlight gun control, climate change and immigration. He’s also expected to propose cuts to the US nuclear weapon arsenal.

Mario Draghi speaks in Spain. The European Central Bank (ECB) president addresses the Spanish parliament and meets with embattled Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. The men may talk about aid for Spain via the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transaction program, under which the ECB would buy Spanish government bonds. Spain’s borrowing costs have fallen sharply in financial markets, however, so it might not be asking for help after all.

Coca-Cola’s fourth quarter results. The beverage giant delivers fourth-quarter results before the start of US trading. Watch out for the company’s volumes in China. During the third quarter they only rose 2%, slowing sharply from the 11% gain seen in Q3 of 2011.

Fat Tuesday. Rio’s Carnival 2013 winds down today—Happy mardi gras. Also known as Shrove or Pancake Tuesday, it precedes Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the more sober Lenten season.

While you were sleeping 

Barclays to cut 3,700 jobs. The British bank posted a pre-tax profit of £246 million ($385 million) for 2012, a significant decline from 2011’s £5.9 billion. CEO Antony Jenkins said the bank will reduce costs by £1.7 annually by 2015 as it restructures after a difficult year. The bank has been under fire for rigging benchmark interest rates, mis-selling financial products, and most recently, possibly murky relationships with Qatari investment vehicles.

Pyongyang tested a nuclear weapon. North Korea confirmed that a tremor measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale was “a nuclear test… carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner“. World leaders are condemning the provocative move. A “scientific” rocket launch by North Korea in December was thought to be a disguised missile test. Pyongyang last tested nuclear weapons in 2006 and 2009, and warned last month that it would test a weapon targeted at the US.

East Asian markets looked robust. Traders returning to the Nikkei after a long weekend seemed in a good mood. The Japanese index rose 2.6% as the yen continued to weaken and prospective Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he would support further stimulus.

G-7 nations promised no currency war. The Group of Seven major economies issued a statement pledging to let market forces determine exchange rates.

The CEO of Finmeccanica was arrested in Milan. Giuseppe Orsi, head of the state-controlled Italian defence and aerospace giant, was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into corruption. The case relates to Finmeccanica’s sale of 12 helicopters to the Indian government for €560 million ($750 million).

Quartz obsession interlude

The surprise resignation from the Holy See turned the papacy into a mini-obsession for Quartz. Lily Kuo and Christopher Mims rounded up five papal facts to know. Kuo and David Yanofsky looked at how popes’ life expectancies have changed surprisingly little over two centuries. Meanwhile, Matt Phillips analyzed the pontiff’s job in terms of management paradigms and suggested that the next Vatican CEO may be a clean-up guy, a product guy or a merger specialist, but is unlikely to be an outsider.

Matters of debate

Europe is losing the currency war. Because it’s not printing as much money as everybody else.

Housing isn’t really a great investmentsays Robert Shiller, co-inventor of the Case-Shiller index, the standard indicator that Americans use to decide whether to invest in housing.

Germany is overly obsessed with doctorates. A plagiarism scandal is the latest example.

Conservatives have reason to get behind breaking up the big bankssays George Will, a conservative American pundit.

We all know the world is aging. But might it actually be a good thing?

Surprising discoveries

New Yorkers like to tour sewage plants on Valentine’s day.

A Chinese entrepreneur is selling canned air.

Remember Vertu? The “luxury” cellphone-maker has finally released a smartphone.

Tupperware’s top North American saleswoman is actually a salesman. Or, a salesperson. Fine, it’s a man in drag.

Lightning struck the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. Yes, on the same day Pope Benedict announced his resignation.

Best of Quartz. Read our most popular recent stories.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pancake recipes and canned air recommendations to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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