Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Emerging market jitters, Apple results, Google’s AI purchase, Lean In: The Movie

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What to watch for today

Emerging market jitters. Traders are bracing for more shocks after the sudden devaluation of the Argentinian peso on Friday. Dubai’s stock market fell by the most in two months on Sunday and Asian shares are taking a beating, 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 heavily contested auction for more spectrum.

Apple at the crossroads? Investors will scrutinize the holiday sales trends for high-margin iPhones and iPads, but more broadly the question is whether the company’s quarterly results will be seen as “a shift to sustainable growth, a pause before the next big thing, or the end of a high-flying era.”

Over the weekend

The weak yen fueled Japan’s record trade deficit. December exports rose 15.3%, but it wasn’t enough to counteract higher imported fuel costs due to the weaker Japanese currency and the country’s shift away from nuclear power, resulting in a deficit of 1.3 trillion yen ($12.7 billion).

Google bought an artificial intelligence company. The company’s push into into smart machines (from cars to robots to thermostats) took another step forward with the $400 million purchase of UK-based DeepMind, a secretive firm that develops “learning algorithms.”

China’s moon rover faltered. “Jade Rabbit” suffered a “mechanical control abnormality,” according to a state media report, which “quoted” the rover as saying, “I know I might not be able to make it through this lunar night … I am not fearful.”

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. Islamic militants also shot down a military helicopter in the Sinai peninsula.

Anti-World Cup demonstrations in Sao Paulo. Thousands marched to protest the costs of this year’s tournament, which they believe should be spent instead on education, healthcare, housing and transportation. More than 100 people were arrested for damaging cars and buildings.

Italy’s privatization plan involves selling minority stakes in four national companies (paywall), including postal and air-traffic control services. The proposal would raise up to €12 billion ($16.4 billion) in a bid to trim the €2 trillion public debt.

François Hollande and his partner parted ways. France’s president admitted that he and the journalist Valérie Trierweiler have separated, after allegations 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

Europe needs more inflation. Stagnant prices are holding back the recovery (paywall) in countries like Spain and Italy.

Why you should boycott the Super Bowl. America’s veneration of a brutal blood sport has blinded us to its dark side.

The World Economic Forum is still an old boys’ club. Misogyny is a daily experience for women, who account for just 15% of Davos attendees.

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.

Surprising discoveries

“Lean In”—The Movie. Sony options Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto for working women.

Birds of peace attacked. Doves released by the Pope in Rome were promptly set upon by an aggressive seagull and a large black crow.

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.

Inoculate yourself against the viral web. A browser plug-in called Downworthy translates infectious headlines into more mundane alternatives.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, space-time theories and non-viral headlines to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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