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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—EU growth forecast, Singapore GDP, touchscreen Chromebooks, spending $100 billion

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

What lies ahead for Europe… The European Commission makes its growth forecast for 2013. The most recent forecast, in November, predicted 0.1% growth for the year, after a 0.5% contraction in 2012 (pdf). A tip down into recession for 2013 would be very gloomy indeed.

…And for Afghanistan. A summit of NATO defense ministers focused on the status of international forces in central Asia concludes today, with ministers considering a plan to pay for a larger Afghan army. That will no doubt thrill NATO’s finance ministers.

When Brazil met Africa. South American and African leaders convene for their third economic summit in seven years. Brazil dominates the trade relationship—competing with China, another emerging economy that has been trying to tap Africa’s markets and mines.

Barack Obama sees his fifth Japanese prime minister in as many years. A summit meeting between the leaders of the world’s biggest and third-biggest economies in Washington, DC will focus on disputed islands, North Korea, monetary policy and the trans-Pacific trade pact.

Boeing tries to get off the ground. The maker of the 787 Dreamliner will present a 10-point proposal to the Federal Aviation Authority for dealing with its flammable battery problem. Among the measures proposed are redesigned lithium-ion batteries and a fireproof container around the battery.

A verdict in the Pistorius bail hearing. A magistrate will decide whether sports champion Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend, should be granted bail. In a strange twist, the detective on the case turns out to be facing charges of attempted murder himself.

While you were sleeping

Singapore posted robust growth figures. The city-state grew an annualized 3.3% in the last quarter of 2012, a big reversal from the 4.6% contraction the previous quarter. Analysts are reading the numbers as a sign of an Asian recovery.

Google released a high-end Chromebook. After Wednesday’s public announcement of the (frankly awesome but also slightly creepy) Google Glass project, the internet giant launched the Chromebook Pixel, a $1,300 version of its web-only laptop with a high-resolution touchscreen, aimed to compete directly with Windows and Mac machines.

Tata may take the Nano to Malaysia. This week Tata announced it was joining up with AirAsia to get back into aviation 60 years after its last airline was nationalized. Now it looks like the partnership may yield other dividends as well: talks are on to build and sell the Nano, its small cheap car, in alliance with AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes.

French forces clashed with Islamists in Mali. Aren’t the French supposed to be pulling out in a few weeks?

Brewing some new Java. Oracle Software is scrambling to plug the holes, recently and notoriously exploited by hackers against Apple, Facebook and Twitter, in its popular Java software.

HP beat expectations. New CEO Meg Whitman is buying herself time to effect a turnaround: earnings fell 11%, less sharply than analysts anticipated.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on China’s efforts to control pollution by banning barbecue. “As one would say in Chinese with emphasis, fangpi–which means rubbish (or, literally, ‘fart’). True, coal-burning grills that make Xinjiang-style meat skewers dot many small streets in Chinese cities. But they are far from the real root of China’s pollution: resistance from state-owned companies and local governments, poor regulation, and the country’s large population. However, when pollution in Beijing in January reached more than 20 times international standards deemed as safe, it was blamed mostly on emissions from coal-burning power stations and car exhaust.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Can Japan spend $100 billion in just fifteen months? If not, we’d like to give it a shot.

While the world focuses on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Iran itself is preoccupied with a dramatic power struggle 

Can food companies make food addictive? It’s all about flavor optimization.

Responding to China’s cyber attacks. “Name and shame alone will not work.

Surprising discoveries

Egyptian protestors want to send President Morsi to space. And he will be sent there by the makers of Axe body spray.

There’s no shortage of PhD-holders in America. Newly credentialed scientists are having a hard time finding jobs.

59% of America’s “tuna” isn’t tuna. Do you really want to know what it actually is?

Germans hate the smell of Abercrombie & Fitch. In Munich, citizens complained to authorities (German) about the heavily perfumed retailer, which announces its earnings today.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, undervalued doctorates and  $100 billion cheques to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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