Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Thai PM probed, Qantas job cuts, orange juice’s decline, 715 new planets

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What to watch for today

Thai PM faces a corruption probe—but probably not in person. The country’s National Anti-Corruption Commission has summoned Yingluck Shinawatra for her involvement in a controversial rice-subsidy program. She probably won’t attend the meeting, but if found guilty, she could be forced to leave office.

Angela Merkel has tea with the Queen. But first the German chancellor will address both Houses of Parliament and meet the leaders of the UK’s three main political parties. Prime minister David Cameron hopes to convince her that Britain pulling out of the EU wouldn’t be all that bad.

Brazil raises its interest rates. After a two-day monetary policy meeting, central bank president Alexandre Tombini is expected to increase Brazil’s key rate by a quarter-point to 10.75%—the eighth consecutive lift. Brazil also reports fourth-quarter GDP.

Euro zone business confidence. After a 19-month run of negative outlooks, the past three months have suggested new confidence in production and order books. Forecasts suggest January will remain positive, albeit not as ecstatic as during the holiday season.

India’s underwhelming growth. India is expected to post GDP growth of 4.9% for the last quarter of 2013, stung by high inflation, interest rate increases, and a weak rupee.

While you were sleeping

Ukraine nominated a prime minister. Arseniy Yatsenyuk has been named PM-designate in a cabinet which, if approved by parliament Thursday, would also include activists from the recent protests in Kiev.

Qantas to cut 5,000 jobs. The airline, which will eliminate one in seven employees by 2017, is trying to convince the Australian government it deserves more help to compete against Virgin Australia. It posted a US$225.8 million loss in the first half of its fiscal year.

Arizona’s governor vetoed a bill on homosexuality and religion. Republican Jan Brewer said a bill enabling business owners to refuse to serve gays and lesbians for religious reasons was “too broad” and could have hurt the state’s economy.

Tesla is building a battery factory. The electric carmaker said the “Gigafactory” will be manufacturing  small, lightweight batteries for Tesla—and perhaps other automakers—by 2017.

Shanghai cracked down on taxi booking apps, which have been banned during rush hour and outlawed for private vehicles, in a setback to services like WeChat and Uber. Separately, Uber was accused of rigging rates in the US by intentionally keeping new drivers off the road during busy periods like Valentine’s Day.

The toll of Target’s data breach. The third-largest US retailer posted earnings that weren’t as bad as Wall Street feared, but profits fell 46% from a year earlier, with shoppers staying away after hackers stole data from 40 million credit and debit cards.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on how America fell out of love with orange juice. “Orange juice’s precipitous decline is a big deal. For nearly five decades, the sweet beverage made its way onto more and more American breakfast tables nearly every year. At its height, almost three-quarters of American households bought and kept orange juice in their refrigerator, according to Alissa Hamilton 2009′s book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice. But shifting American eating habits—which stigmatize sugar and leave little time for breakfast—and surging juice prices have done significant damage to American demand.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Facebook needs radical change. After buying WhatsApp, it needs to become a platform for services such as money transfers and taxi bookings.

Venezuela’s star conductor needs to weigh in. Gustavo Dudamel should condemn the government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators.

Britain doesn’t deserve all the credit for its economic recovery. External factors, including oligarchs buying penthouses (paywall), played a big part.

A billionaire president would solve America’s problems. A truly independent decision maker could fix the country’s political mess.

Narcissism is just healthy self-esteem. It shouldn’t be something to be too ashamed of.

Surprising discoveries

Nasa’s still got it. The space agency found 715 new planets—now we just need someone with a real budget to go explore them.

Boeing is developing a spy phone. It you try to uncover its secrets, the handset self-destructs.

Humans are the only animals that can throw. Accurately, that is.

Harm reduction through home-brewing. A Vancouver non-profit teaches alcoholics to make their own hootch.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments,  narcissistic manifestos and home-made hootch to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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