Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—euro summit, fireproof batteries, Asian appointments, Facebook hashtags

March 15, 2013
March 15, 2013

What to watch for today

EU summit continues. European leaders continue to debate whether austerity policies are helping or hurting a euro area in crisis. France is already spoiling for a fight. Later tonight, euro-zone finance ministers will meet to decide what to do about Cyprus (paywall).

A data look at the US economy. Inflation, industrial production, and consumer confidence data are all on the docket.

JP Morgan bosses talk about the London Whale. Executives involved in or close to a trade that cost the bank more than $6 billion last year will testify in front of a US Senate panel. A Senate report on the bank’s attitudes to risk makes for pretty spicy reading, as reports on banking go.

A referendum in Zimbabwe. The country ruled by Robert Mugabe for 33 years will tomorrow get a chance to approve a new constitution, which if approved will clear the way for Zimbabweans to finally boot out the old man in favor of Morgan Tsvangirai, presently prime minister.

While you were sleeping

These are not the battery fires you are looking for. Boeing unveiled measures today to try to ensure that no 787 battery could ever catch fire. Referring to the incidents on two separate Japan Airlines 787 aircraft in Tokyo and Boston, vice-president Mark Sinnett stressed that “in neither event was there a fire inside the blue box of the battery“.

India’s biggest private banks were accused of money laundering. An independent news website published videos allegedly showing executives at various Indian banks accepting dirty cash. The central bank, the finance ministry and the banks themselves opened investigations into the allegations.

Widely-expected East Asian appointments confirmed. Chinese lawmakers elected Li Keqiang as prime minister for the next decade, by 2,940 votes to 9, a slightly less overwhelming majority—in Chinese terms at least—than Xi Jinping’s 2,952 to 1. In Japanparliamentarians confirmed Haruhiko Kuroda as governor and Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso as his deputies, even though the largest opposition party voted against Iwata.

Samsung Galaxy S4 revealed with a raft of new features. The South Korean electronics giant released its latest smartphone, which follows eye movements, translates into several languages, can be controlled without touching it, and, judging by the size, might be useful for self-defense (or ping pong). It will be available from the end of April.

An American journalist allegedly helped hack into a newspaper. A deputy social media editor at Reuters was indicted on charges of assisting hackers to deface the website of the Los Angeles Times.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zach Seward on how Iranians are the real victims of Google’s decision to kill off Google Reader: “RSS readers take raw feeds of data—headline, text, timestamp, etc.—and display that information in a stripped-down interface along with many other feeds, which is what makes them so efficient. Less obvious is how many RSS readers, including Google’s, serve as anti-censorship tools for people living under oppressive regimes. That’s because it’s actually Google’s servers, located in the US or another country with uncensored internet, that accesses each feed. So a web user in Iran just needs access to google.com/reader in order to read websites that would otherwise be blocked.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s been hacking—but for how long? The military was talking about it in 1995.

The myth of the lone inventor. You’re never working all by yourself.

Can anyone save Groupon from itself? Its problem is greed.

Why quackery survives. Reason never seems to eliminate unreason; it just leads to different kinds.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists think they’ve really found the God particle. Physicists thought they had discovered the Higgs boson—the particle that could be responsible for all mass in the universe—last year, but now they are pretty sure that they got it right.

Plutonium without the WMD. The US produced the first non-weapons grade plutonium in 25 years in order to power space probes.

There might be fish in your Guinness beer. Sorry, vegans.

Facebook might incorporate hashtags. #pleasegodno

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, atomic particle discoveries, and censorship-avoidance techniques to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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