Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Yellen confirmed, Sochi lockdown, disaster data, Mountain Dew Cheetos

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What to watch for today

Sochi goes into lockdown. With a month to go before the start of the winter Olympics, restrictive security measures go into effect in Russia’s Black Sea resort town.

The US chill continues. The so-called polar vortex is expected to keep the US midwest ludicrously cold, and has sent some natural gas prices up 660% (paywall). On the other side of the globe, Australia is grappling with a serious heatwave.

Taiwanese trade details. Export data for December will shed light on the economies of its large trading partners such as Japan and China. The most recent report suggested ongoing weakness in China.

Ireland flogs some bonds. The country is set to issue €3 billion ($4.1 billion) of 10-year bonds—its first since its bailout ended last month.

Expensive disasters. Insurance giant MunichRe is expected to put a price tag on 2013′s catostrophes. Its last update in July found that flooding dominated the catastrophe data for the first half of the year.

While you were sleeping

Yellen was confirmed. As expected, the US Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the next Federal Reserve chairman in a 56-26 vote. When her term begins Feb. 1, she’ll become the first woman to lead a major central bank.

Run Run Shaw died. The influential Hong Kong movie mogul, who produced 1982’s “Blade Runner” and almost 1,000 kung fu and other films, died at the age of 107.

A marijuana supply squeeze. High demand in Colorado is jacking up prices and forcing out-of-stock retailers to close while they wait for a re-up.

Samsung’s ugly earnings guidance. Investors were bracing for bad news, but it was even worse than expected: An 18% drop in quarterly operating profit, as the company’s massive smartphone unit comes under pressure from Apple and other competitors.

Australia’s trade gap narrowed.Exports were flat while imports declined, producing a lower-than-expected November trade deficit of A$118 million ($105 million). 

China denied centralizing its military. Contrary to an earlier state media report, Beijing is not implementing a joint operational command structure. Analysts say coordination between the country’s military branches remains a challenge.

More to come from Snowden. Journalist Glenn Greenwald said in an interview that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has more secrets pertaining to Israel.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why 2014 could be a fascinating year for technology. “If the hints that Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to drop—and the corresponding rumors—are any guide, 2014 is a year in which Apple will attempt, as it did in 2007, to redefine an entire product category. Only this time, instead of phones, it will be wearables.” Read more of the week-long series here.

Matters of debate

Upward mobility is unhealthy. Resilient children who achieve great success despite the socioeconomic odds often suffer poor health outcomes.   

The US needs to spend more. We can boost growth with more government jobs and government spending, argues Larry Summers.

China’s destruction of poached ivory won’t save any elephants. The country’s legal ivory trade is still highly problematic.

Egypt’s conflict threatens to create a new al-Qaeda. If the West closes its eyes to the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s sowing the seeds for another 9/11.

Surprising discoveries

Japan creates the ultimate snack for gamers: Mountain Dew-flavored Cheetos.

Emoji for the telegraph. The Phillips Code, first codified in 1879, included abbreviations like 88 (“Love and kisses”).

Investing can make you sick. Hospital admissions for psychological disorders increase on days when the markets tumble.

Event: What 2014 holds for tech. Join Quartz technology editor Christopher Mims and Re/code co-executive editor Kara Swisher for a live video discussion this Wednesday January 8 at 1pm ET.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, outrageous snackfood combinations, and favorite telegraph codes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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