What to watch for today
Shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East. US secretary of state John Kerry visits the West Bank to see Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, after meeting Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday, as part of a trip to help broker peace talks.
Economists digest the Bernanke era. The three-day meeting of the American Economic Association starts in Philadelphia and will cover themes ranging from inequality to why the US isn’t recovering faster (paywall). Outgoing Fed chairman Ben Bernanke speaks this afternoon.
A big storm descends on the US northeast. Snow storm Hercules is expected to bring blizzard-like gusts and nearly a foot of snow to much of the region, including Boston and New York City.
While you were sleeping
A bomb in southern Beirut. A car bomb killed at five people and injured at least 20 more in Hizbollah-controlled Haret Hreik. The attack comes less than a week after a similar bomb killed former finance minister Mohammad Chatah.
A key acquisition in security. FireEye, a firm that monitors company networks for security breaches, will buy Mandiant, which does something similar on devices. Mandiant works with most of the Fortune 500; its expansion to customers abroad could unnerve the US government.
Wal-Mart pulled its tainted meat. The retailer was forced to recall donkey meat products from its stores in China after samples were found to contain traces of fox meat. Donkey is a delicacy in Northern China, but fox has a taste not many people like.
Rémy Cointreau’s boss quit after just three months. The departure of Frédéric Pflanz as the liquor company’s CEO (paywall) came as a surprise, and a blow as the firm struggles with a declining market in China.
Advertising got political in Egypt. Prosecutors summoned Vodafone, the largest mobile carrier in Egypt, to explain allegations that the company slipped a subtle pro-Muslim Brotherhood message into a recent online advertisement.
Not even Alicia Keys can save BlackBerry. The R&B singer is leaving the smartphone company after a yearlong stint as its “global creative director.” BlackBerry lost more money last quarter than it made in the previous four years combined.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on what China’s reform plans mean for Macau’s billion-dollar casino business. “[A]s the government gradually loosens capital controls, households and businesses will be able to move capital across Chinese borders more freely—and will have less need to run money through Macau’s VIP rooms. VIP rooms accounted for more than 70% of Macau’s revenues, reported The Economist in 2011.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The Angry Birds business model isn’t about the game anymore. It’s about the merchandise.
China will never take over the world. The very thing that makes it powerful—its size—is also a fundamental weakness.
JP Morgan got off lightly. Its $13 billion settlement won’t change anything about the way Wall St does business.
Obamacare may not cut health-care costs. Poor people who get public health insurance are more likely, not less, to go to the emergency room than the uninsured.
Crash test dummies have only just achieved equality. Female dummies weren’t mandatory parts of crash tests until last year.
What gravity would be like if the world were a cube. For a start, you’d be standing at an angle on most of the Earth’s surface.
Pope Francis has been a blessing for Rome. He boosted tourism at the Vatican by 180% in 2013.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Angry Birds spin-offs, and unusual gravitational models to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.