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Quartz Daily Brief—BlackBerry’s earnings, Target’s data breach, the Envia story, pirate diapers

By Quartz Staff

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The Bank of Japan keeps the taps open. Unlike its US counterpart, Japan’s central bank isn’t expected to wind back its unprecedented monetary stimulus this morning. The big question is whether the BoJ might enact even more stimulus to offset a sales tax hike next year.

How bad can things be at BlackBerry? Investors—and remaining customers—of Canada’s one-time colossus of smartphones will be looking for some semblance of progress. Some soothing words from new interim CEO and turnaround specialist John Chen would be welcome. Consensus expectations are for a loss of 43 cents per share on revenue of $1.7 billion.

The acid test for the US economy. The third and final estimate of third-quarter growth in the US might make the Fed’s decision earlier this week to dial down its bond-buying program look very smart, or very silly. According to the second revision, the word’s largest economy expanded by a feisty 3.6% in Q3.

While you were sleeping

Putin’s parade of largesse continued. Russia’s president said he would pardon jailed oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Earlier this week, two jailed members of punk rock group Pussy Riot and a crew of Greenpeace protestors got amnesty. It looks like an attempt to burnish Russia’s image ahead of this February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Target admitted to a massive data breach. The US retailer said data from roughly 40 million credit and debit cards had been stolen, the second largest such incident in US history. Analysts say the news could hurt Target’s sales in what remains of the all-important Christmas shopping season.

Facebook had a follow-on offering. With its stock at its highest level since its 2012 IPO, the social-networking giant said it would sell shares worth nearly $4 billion, including more than $2 billion owned by founder Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook will use the cash for working capital and other needs. Zuckerberg will mainly use it to pay taxes.

A sickly month for Brazil’s economy. Mid-December inflation exceeded all analysts’ forecasts and unemployment remained at a record low, also belying forecasts. The country is struggling to deal with inflation amid a weak currency and economic contraction.

London’s Apollo theater partly collapsed. A section of the balcony in the 112-year-old West End theater fell on to a packed audience, injuring an estimated 80 people.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the mysterious story of Envia, the battery startup that allegedly failed GM. “It was… a deal rare to an industry newcomer—a contract worth tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to provide the electric central nervous system for two showcase GM models including the next-generation Chevy Volt. Untested small suppliers almost never get in the door of the world’s major automakers, which regard them as too risky to rely on. But GM was won over by what seemed to be the world’s best lithium-ion battery—a cell that, if all went well, would catapult the company to a commanding position in the industry with a middle-class electric car that traveled 200 miles on a single charge.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Foreign businesses can help Ukrainian democracy. Banks, art galleries and consultancies should refuse to deal with the country’s pro-Moscow oligarchs.

America needs better comedians. The current crop just aren’t up to the task of effectively satirizing today’s politicians.

The Anarchists’ Cookbook should be taken out of print. Its author says he wrote the classic handbook of violent protest out of naivete, and it’s done more harm than good.

Surprising discoveries

Drinking alcohol can prevent you from getting sick. Moderate drinking, that is.

Bill Gates was an online Secret Santa this year. The lucky recipient of his gift one person was totally gobsmacked.

You can steal bitcoinHere’s how.

Morgan Freeman is probably going to play Nelson Mandela. A billboard in India commemorating Mandela’s death used a picture of the actor by mistake.

You can go to Harvard without being accepted. As long as you’re male, this man will pay you to go in his stead.

Copyright piracy has taken a new twist. Chinese counterfeiters are pirating Japanese diapers.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stolen bitcoins and Harvard applications to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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