Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Crimea parliament seized, Qantas job cuts, orange juice’s decline, 715 new planets

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What to watch for today

Angela Merkel has tea with the Queen. But first the German chancellor will address both Houses of Parliament, and prime minister David Cameron will try to convince her that Britain pulling out of the EU wouldn’t be all that bad.

Brazil raises its interest rates. Central bank president Alexandre Tombini is expected to increase Brazil’s key interest rate for the eighth consecutive time. Brazil also reports fourth-quarter GDP.

Euro zone business confidence. The past three months have suggested newfound optimism for 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

Crimea’s parliament was seized by armed menThe Russian flag has been raised over two government buildings in Ukraine’s ethnically Russian province. Separately, Arseniy Yatsenyuk ​was named PM designate in a cabinet which will also include activists from the recent protests in Kiev.

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

WPP fell short. The world’s largest advertising group reported weaker-than-expected operating margins and cut its profitability forecasts.

​Thai PM corruption hearing disrupted. Pro-government red shirt demonstrators blocked a hearing by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which could force PM​ Yingluck Shinawatra from office.​ ​She has now been given until March 14th ​to respond to allegations she mishandled a rice subsidy program.

Arizona’s governor vetoed a contentious bill. 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.

BYD revs up to challenge Tesla. The Chinese automaker has been given the go-ahead to sell electric cars in Beijing and Shanghai, effective immediately.

Standard Life threatened to leave an independent Scotland. The financial services provider has already begun registering entities outside of Scotland in case a September referendum on independence is passed.

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.

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

The Chinese IPO scene is not perfect, but it’s healthy. Nearly 50 offerings have been registered in the past five weeks.

Apps are turning us into sociopaths. We are now outsourcing our own humanity.

Facebook needs radical change. After buying WhatsApp, it needs to become a platform for 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.

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

Surprising discoveries

Use pi to get more pie. A 14-inch pizza costs two thirds as much per square inch as an 8-inch pizza.

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 hooch.

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

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