Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Same-sex law & order, Syria talks revived, emerging markets slump, Marius the giraffe RIP

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What to watch for today

US same-sex spousal rights. The US Justice Department will expand the rights of same-sex married people “to the greatest possible extent under the law”—including bankruptcies, prison visitation, and the right to not testify against a spouse—even in states where same-sex marriage is not legal.

Syria reattempts peace talks. Syria’s government will attend a new round of negotiations in Geneva as a three-day ceasefire in Homs draws to a close. The first round of talks ended recently without progress.

EBay starts trading bitcoin. The UK branch of the online auction house will begin listing sales of bitcoin and other virtual currencies, although transactions must be carried out in a government-issued currency.

The state of play in the toy industry. Hasbro reports fourth-quarter earnings, and investors will be looking to see how the creator of GI Joe is faring against digital gaming—particularly after toymaker Mattel’s disappointing results.

Time Warner Cable battle escalates. Charter Communications prepares to nominate a team of 13 new Time Warner Cable directors (paywall) after the company rejected Charter’s $61 billion buyout offer last month.

Over the weekend

Tokyo’s new pro-nuclear governor. Nuclear energy proponent Yoichi Masuzoe, a former TV anchor and cabinet minister, was elected by a wide margin after the anti-nuclear vote was split between two rival candidates.

British optimism knows no bounds. An business outlook index rose to a 22-year high following a series of promising economic data that capped off 2013.

Japan hit a record low current account surplus, down 31.5% to 3.3 trillion yen ($32.3 billion), as energy imports picked up and exports slowed. A move toward current account deficits may be evidence that Abenomics is working.

Emerging markets continued to slump. Thanks to sluggish growth in BRIC countries, business activity in emerging markets slowed to a four-month low in January.

Switzerland voted against European immigrants. Swiss voters passed by a slight majority—just 50.3%—a proposal to reintroduce stricter limits on immigrants from EU countries.

A giraffe death ignited a firestorm. The Copenhagen Zoo put down Marius, a healthy two-year old giraffe, and fed him to the lions. His dissection and digestion were witnessed by a very young audience.

A top NFL prospect came out. Defensive lineman Michael Sam, a projected early-round draft choice, could become the first openly gay professional American football player.

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on how Obamacare could drive up your wages. “Older workers who are holding onto jobs in an attempt to cling to health insurance coverage might be more willing to retire, opening up positions for younger workers. In theory, younger workers should also enjoy additional freedom to leave jobs, secure in the knowledge that they’ll be able to get insurance on public exchanges. Previously, the alternative to sticking with an employer was a very expensive individual market, depending on a spouse’s health insurance, or just doing without.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Microsoft should forget about Android. Google has made sure the smartphone operating system can’t be forked.

Drugstores ditching tobacco products isn’t good enough. Obesity kills more people than cigarettes—CVS should lose the sugary snacks.

Hacking isn’t a threat in Sochi. Surveillance is.

We’ve fallen out of love with tablets. Despite a swooning first impression, the devices have let us down.

Surprising discoveries

The sweet scent of data. A startup uses an algorithm to find the best perfume for you.

Marijuana munchies are a real thing, which could be helpful in combating eating disorders such as anorexia and obesity.

The height of Apple fandom. This Japanese man is already in line for the iPhone 6—a product that hasn’t been announced yet.

Breastfeeding is winning. So formula companies are pushing “toddler milk” to neurotic parents.

Flappy Bird is dead. Fans eulogize the ridiculously difficult video game that also ruined their lives. Creator Dong Nguyen, who killed the game at the peak of its popularity, is being compared to comedian Dave Chappelle.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, toddler milk reviews and giraffe obituaries to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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