Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Iran-Japan talks, China’s 7.5% target, Radio Shack shaken, zombie academia

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

Europe bankrolls Ukraine. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton travels to Kiev to discuss how much foreign funding Ukraine needs. European authorities could loan the country up to €1.6 billion ($2.2 billion), but might ask for certain reforms in return.

The first look at US jobs. The monthly employment report from private payroll firm ADP is set to show an increase of 153,000 jobs in February, compared t0 175,000 the previous month, setting the stage for the more important government figure that comes out on Friday.

Iran and Japan talk nukes. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with senior Japanese officials, including prime minister Shinzo Abe, to discuss how the two countries can boost their economic and cultural ties. Iran’s nuclear capabilities are likely to be high on Japan’s agenda.

A crucial case for shareholders. The US Supreme Court weighs on an investor lawsuit against Halliburton for misleading the public through falsified accounts. Halliburton claims public information doesn’t really sway investors anyway; if the judges agree, it could cripple future securities class-action lawsuits.

While you were sleeping

China maintained its economic growth target. The world economy’s recovery might be faltering, but Beijing isn’t budging with its 7.5% target for 2014—even though a lower rate of growth might be healthier in the long run. The annual legislative council also announced a 12% rise in military spending, a war on smog, and further reforms to the economy.

Obama’s liberal budget set the tone. The US president unveiled a proposal for a $3.9 trillion budget, including new taxes on big businesses and the wealthy, and extra spending on preschool education and tax credits for the poor. It’s unlikely to pass Congress, but sets the agenda for Democrats in the mid-term elections.

A CFO shuffle at Apple. Luca Maestri—formerly chief financial officer of General Motors, Nokia Siemens and Xerox—will take over when Peter Oppenheimer retires in September.

America extended a hand to Ukraine. US secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Kiev with a $1 billion loan package, as well as the promise of technical experts to support the central bank and finance department. Kerry’s team also hinted that economic sanctions against Russia are likely within the week.

Radio Shack got shaken. The electronics retailer said it would close 1,100 stores, or nearly a fifth of its total retail presence, after 2013 losses more than doubled to $400.2 million. Internet shopping has hurt Radio Shack’s business, and the case for Amazon to buy it looks better than ever.

Chipotle’s guacamole warning. The burrito chain said guac could be off the menu if climate change pushes avocado prices too high.

Quartz obsession interlude

Rachel Feltman talks to the designer of Cone, the loudspeaker that aims to change music streaming. “Though the device lacks any kind of screen, it works on its own. Users only need the accompanying app if they want to go looking for information on a track they hear. Otherwise, using the personal DJ is as easy as twisting the face of the speaker. A short turn changes songs, a spin breaks into a different kind of music, and voice recognition helps you make specific requests.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Something has gone wrong with democracy. After a solid run in the 20th century, democracy’s advance has stalled.

Five-year olds should learn calculus. Starting with anything simpler isn’t effective.

Starbucks is the new local bank. Nearly one-third of company transactions are done on pre-paid Starbucks cards, and that’s just the beginning.

Vladimir Putin is losing it. His latest press conference showed him to be rambling, paranoid, and detached from reality.

Thailand’s human-trafficking problem is really about overfishing. Dwindling seafood stocks are pushing unscrupulous skippers to conscript migrant workers.

Surprising discoveries

Hard-up Spaniards can take prostitution lessons. Some feminists are not happy about it.

Silk might revolutionize surgery. Silk screws and plates could mend broken bones better than metal.

A predatory flatworm has invaded France. Turns out they have a taste for escargots, too.

Zombies are a subject of academic study. One professor has built his career on them.

Full fat milk isn’t all that bad. It may even be better at keeping the weight off than fat-free milk.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, zombie thesis proposals, and escargot recipes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.f

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