What to watch for today
More jitters in emerging markets. Traders are bracing themselves for more shocks after the sudden devaluation of the Argentinian peso last week triggered a sell-off. Yesterday Dubai’s stock market fell by the most in two months. But it’s worth remembering that not all emerging markets are alike.
India rules on spectrum fees. The government’s telecoms committee will set the annual fee for mobile operators to use its airwaves, ahead of next week’s auction for more spectrum—one that’s expected to be heavily subscribed after a lack of interest in two previous auctions.
A retrospective on NATO defense. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen delivers the alliance’s annual report for 2013. Last year’s report highlighted uneven military spending across member nations, which could put ”NATO’s military capacity and political credibility at risk.”
How many iPhones are being sold. As Apple reports first-quarter earnings, the thing to watch is iPhone sales (iPhones have a high profit margin) as well as iPad sales, which will show whether Apple managed to stave off increasing competition from other smartphone and tablet makers over the holidays.
An “eco-terrorist” is sentenced. Rebecca Rubin, a Canadian animal-rights activist, faces up to 90 months in prison and fines of $14 million after pleading guilty to several counts of arson and conspiracy, in what the US Justice Department has called the “largest eco-terrorism case” in US history.
Postage gets pricier in the US. The cost of a first-class stamp rises to 49 cents from 46 cents as part of the national postal service’s plan to curb losses—which could also mean an end to Saturday deliveries—after it lost $5 billion last year. Here’s how you could have made money off the increase.
Over the weekend
A bloody third anniversary for Egypt’s revolution. Dozens were killed and hundreds wounded when anti-government protestors and security forces clashed on Saturday, the third anniversary of the fall of president Hosni Mubarak, as demonstrators retraced their steps from 2011 through Tahrir Square.
Anti-World Cup rioters took to Sao Paulo. Police arrested more than 100 people demonstrating against this year’s World Cup in Brazil. It was the latest in ongoing protests about the cost of hosting the soccer tournament—money protestors believe should be spent on education, healthcare and infrastructure.
Italy proposed a privatization plan. It will sell minority stakes in four national companies (paywall), including the postal and air-traffic control services, and smaller stakes in several others, raising up to €12 billion ($16.4 billion) in a bid to trim the €2 trillion public debt. It’s the biggest sell-off since the 1990s.
A ruling on brain-death. Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead pregnant woman, was removed from life support after a high-profile battle between her family and the state of Texas. A judge overruled hospital officials who, encouraged by anti-abortion groups, had tried to stop Munoz’s family complying with her wishes not to be kept alive artificially.
François Hollande and his partner parted ways. France’s president admitted that he and the journalist Valérie Trierweiler have separated, after allegations that he had an affair with an actress.
Quartz obsession interlude
Leo Mirani on how the web domain name for Colombia became the hot address for tech startups. “People went to .co because, on .com, with over 111 million registrations, the short, simple names are mostly taken. They went also because .co is one letter shorter than .com, which matters in the age of Twitter. But most of all, they went because some very canny marketing convinced them that it’s where sexy, innovative start-ups go.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Why you should boycott the Super Bowl. Football is a brutal blood sport, and America’s veneration of the game has blinded us to its dark side.
The World Economic Forum is still an old boys’ club. Misogyny is a daily experience for the women who account for just 15% of Davos’ attendees.
Is stem cell therapy worth it? Stem cell clinics are springing up all over the place, but they’re unregulated, as no clinical trials have been conducted.
Higher education has lost its backbone. Encouraging students to focus on one major limits the broad spectrum of knowledge they should be pursuing.
Sherlock Holmes isn’t that impressive. He makes for good entertainment, but Holmes’ detective work doesn’t stand up to real-life scrutiny.
Star Trek’s holodeck could be a real thing. Scientists are working on a simulated-reality room that would make entertainment a fully immersive experience.
Cocaine has lost its allure. But the cyclical nature of drug fashion suggests it could well come back again.
There are no true black holes. Stephen Hawking’s new theory suggests there are ways for light to escape from space’s no-way-out portals.
A way to make the internet more boring. A browser plug-in called Downworthy translates viral headlines into more mundane alternatives.