Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Ukraine president search, Europe inflation, Japan nuclear power, selfie head lice

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Ukraine searches for presidents, new and old. The country opens the campaign to select Viktor Yanukovych’s replacement, even as the hunt for the deposed former president continues. Interim leader Oleksander Turchinov set a Tuesday deadline for parliament to form a new government.

Europe reduces its inflation outlook. The European Commission is expected to cut its 2014 inflation outlook from its current level of 1.5%; January’s level was only 0.8%.

South Africa’s weak rand boost. South Africa is set to post fourth-quarter GDP growth of 3.4%, compared to 0.7% in the previous quarter, as its weaker currency aided exports and narrowed the country’s current account deficit.

Macy’s sheds light on seasonal shopping. Analysts will be watching to see how the department store fared this holiday season and whether it continues to dominate rivals. Home Depot is also set to post quarterly results.

US housing update. Fourth-quarter S&P Case-Shiller home price data is due, along with the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index index.

While you were sleeping

China’s currency got volatile. The yuan saw its biggest plunge in more than a year, down 0.25% against the dollar. Analysts think the central bank wants to end its steady appreciation and ward off speculators before possibly widening the currency’s trading band.

Japan isn’t done with nuclear power. Despite the Fukushima disaster, prime minister Shinzo Abe said nuclear power is vital to Japan’s energy future, announcing plans to restart reactors that are deemed safe.

More JP Morgan job cuts. The bank is planning several thousand more cutbacks in its mortgage business, in addition to the 13,000-15,000 positions it has already announced, according to the Financial Times (paywall).

LinkedIn linked into China—and its censors. The company will establish a Chinese-language site to offer localized professional networking services. It will comply with the country’s restrictive internet rules and store Chinese user data on servers within the country.

Iran and Iraq’s weapons deal. Reuters has seen contracts for Iran to supply Iraq with arms, including mortar launchers, tank ammunition, night vision goggles and gas masks. The deal would violate a UN embargo against weapons sales by Tehran.

Bitcoin’s biggest bank crash. The high-profile Mt. Gox exchange is offline and reportedly insolvent. Separately, security firm Trustwave said a huge botnet ring stole 85 virtual wallets containing unknown numbers of bitcoins and other digital currency.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on the $25 smartphone and Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to bring the internet—including Facebook—to the next billion people. “Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to all this is to provide a ‘dial tone for the internet.’ ‘Why should people spend one or two or three dollars to get basic data,’ he said at the Mobile World Congress, if they don’t know what’s in store for them. People need a reason to get online and Zuckerberg’s idea is to provide a suite of free ‘basic services’ such as messaging, food prices, Wikipedia, weather and, it goes without saying, Facebook. This is the next step in Zuckerberg’s plan for world domination.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China will never have a Lehman moment. If push comes to shove, lenders will ignore profitability and follow the government’s orders.

Grad school institutionalizes depression. It’s years of work in a place you don’t want to live in exchange for poor job prospects and financial security.

Whole Foods is a shrine to pseudoscience. The homeopathy-laden shelves of the high-end supermarket chain are no more accurate than a creationism museum.

Blame your ancestors if you’re poor. An analysis of surnames shows that social mobility is a very, very slow process.

German austerity is a myth. The country is booming, but it’s not because of budget cutbacks.

Surprising discoveries

A Chinese robot vanquished Flappy Bird. Developers in Shanghai spent a week hacking a solution to the notoriously difficult cult-hit video game.

A US patent application has been pending for 43 years. Inventor Gilbert P. Hyatt patented the microprocessor, and he’s looking for a sequel.

Science can be gibberish. Publishers had to withdraw over 120 papers that turned out to be computer-generated nonsense.

Selfies spread head lice. It’s just one unpleasant side-effect of teenagers sticking their heads together to take photos.

You don’t really understand the Higgs boson. But this comic strip might just explain it for you.

Baby poop makes sausages tastier. Spanish scientists used bacteria from dirty diapers to make the cured meats.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, metaphors for graduate school, computer-generated papers, and long-pending patent applications to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.