Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Al Qaeda trial, US jobs numbers, hot earth, coffee for bees

March 8, 2013
March 8, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hugo Chavez will be laid to rest. And already US-Venezuelan relations are improving: a delegation of lawmakers and State Department officials will attend the ceremony. The late president’s body will reportedly be kept on permanent display in a glass casket.

Al Qaeda PR man will appear in court. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law and a spokesman for Al Qaeda, was arrested in Turkey a few weeks ago. Today he will be brought before a federal court in New York to face charges of terrorism.

Kenya election results—seriously. After a week of false alarms, Kenya’s election commission says it may finally release results today. Uhuru Kenyatta is hovering around the 50% mark needed to avoid a run-off, which could be a long and fraught process.

Another 165,000 people in employment. As the global economy picks up steam, new data is expected to show that American unemployment stayed at 7.9% even as thousands of people found jobs in February.

Two islands go to the polls. On Saturday, the tiny Mediterranean nation of Malta (pop. 420,000) votes in national elections, with the leftist Labour party expected to take power for the first time since 1998. The Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas as the Argentinians call them) will vote to stay a part of the British Empire—sorry, British Overseas Territories—in a referendum starting Sunday with an electorate of 1,672 voters.

While you were sleeping

China released encouraging trade data. Exports grew by 21.8%, more than double analysts’ forecasts, while imports were down 15.2%. The trade surplus for the month was $15.25 billion, down from $29.15 billion in January.

Japan pulled itself out of recession. By posting revised fourth-quarter GDP figures of 0.0% growth compared to the previous quarter. It’s better than less than nothing.

Intel is actively considering outsiders for its CEO post. Quartz has learned that former Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha and VMware CEO Patrick Gelsinger are among the candidates. Choosing an outsider would be a new, possibly important step for the semiconductor maker to show shareholders it’s serious about competing in mobile and reversing its revenue decline.

Fewer directors, less of the time at Goldman Sachs. The title and responsibility of managing director, a much sought-after position, will only be granted every two years rather than annually, Lloyd Blankfein said in a memo. The promotion comes with a base salary of $500,000, a shot at making partner, and plenty of prestige.

John Brennan got to run the CIA. A day after Senator Rand Paul spent some 13 hours on the floor to hold up a confirmation vote, the Senate confirmed John Brennan as the new head of the CIA. Brennan’s nomination opened up a long-pending debate on the ethics of drone warfare—but only with respect to US citizens.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anna Codrea-Rado on why managers should keep their employees caffeinated. “Whether you’re a prince of the church or a cubicle-dwelling drone, there seems to be an unbreakable bond between work and coffee: The boss provides the java and the java fuels the workers, keeping them revved up, connected, and toiling away at their given tasks.” Read Quartz’s complete guide to coffee in the workplace here.

Matters of debate

Did the CIA give Chavez cancer? Probably not but that hasn’t stopped a wave of conspiracy theories over America’s involvement in his death. 

Small businesses in Italy and Spain bear the brunt of the euro zone’s problems.

Market highs aren’t everything. Three reasons why you shouldn’t get so excited about market index peaks.

The US brought down the British Empire. Dollar diplomacy was the real reason for British imperial collapse.

Surprising discoveries

Where do bees go for their morning buzz? Some plants’ nectar contains caffeine concentrated to about the same level as a cup of instant coffee. Apparently it improves their long-term memory.

Three companies alone have $135 billion parked offshore. Microsoft, Apple and Google more than doubled the amount of cash they hoard away from the not-quite-long-enough arm of taxman.

There are 83 billionaires in China’s parliament while the richest lawmaker is America is barely worth half a billion.

Children born in the summer are less likely to get into the best universities. At least in Britain.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, coffee trivia and good arguments for drinking a nice cup of tea instead to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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