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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Sochi lockdown, Euro inflation, South Sudan peace talks, Mountain Dew Cheetos

What to watch for today

The US chill continues. The “polar vortex” is expected to keep the US midwest ludicrously cold and head toward the east coast. On the other side of the globe, Australia is grappling with a serious heatwave.

Mathew Martoma’s trial kicks off. The insider trading case against the former SAC Capital Advisors trader, who has refused to cut a deal with US prosecutors, begins in New York.

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.

While you were sleeping

Euro zone inflation fell. Consumer prices in the 17-nation bloc rose by a less-than-expected 0.8% in December.

German unemployment dropped for the first time in five months. The number of jobless decreased by 15,000 in December after increasing 9,000 the previous month.

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

South Sudan peace talks. A government delegation met with rebels in neighboring Ethiopia in hopes of a ceasefire, following ethnic violence that has killed at least 1,000 people.

US cedes disaster crown. Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurance company, said the costliest weather disasters last year were in Europe—the first time in two decades that the US hasn’t topped the list.

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.

T-Mobile’s CEO crashed AT&T’s party. John Legere, kicked out of an AT&T event at the Consumer Electronics Show, said: ““I just wanted to hear Macklemore.”

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 came under pressure.

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

Religion is an evolutionary advantage. Faith binds groups, creates social contracts, provides comfort—and sanctions killing in the name of God.

Fukushima did not cause a seafood “die-off.” Despite misinformed reports, there is no evidence that radiation from the nuclear accident has affected organisms on the West Coast.

World War I isn’t over. The effects of the empire-shattering conflict, which began nearly 100 years ago, are still unfolding.

Upward mobility is unhealthy. Children who achieve great success against the socioeconomic odds often suffer poor health outcomes.

Surprising discoveries

Never wash another dish. Swedish researchers have created a plate and bowl with a super-hydrophobic coating that repels dirt and liquids.

Edward Snowden’s antecedents. Activists who broke into an FBI office in 1971 to reveal government surveillance operations have finally decided to come clean.

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”).

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 hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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