Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Paralympics begin, Comcast’s probe, Spotify’s IPO, bitcoin’s inventor

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What to watch for today

America’s job market perks up. Analysts expect that the US economy added 163,000 new jobs in February (paywall), compared to only 113,000 the month before. But even if the data disappoint, investors will probably chalk it up to an anomaly, or the extreme cold weather; many other employment indicators look strong.

A little rally in Germany. Consensus estimates have industrial production for January bouncing up by 0.7%, after a 0.6% drop in December. It might even come in higher: Yesterday’s data on industrial orders showed double the expected increase, giving hope for a more bullish 2014.

The Winter Paralympics opening ceremony. Since the Sochi Olympics drew to an end two weeks ago, the region has been somewhat busy with other, arguably more pressing, concerns. But the sporting season is not over, and the Winter Paralympics kick off today despite global boycotts of the event, also held in Sochi.

While you were sleeping

Crimea sided with Russia… Lawmakers in Crimea voted in favor of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia, a bill that will be put to a regional referendum on March 16. Ukrainian interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called this “an illegitimate position,” while US president Barack Obama said it was “a violation of international law.”

… and the West didn’t. The EU and the US agreed to freeze the assets of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and imposed visa bans on Russia. The EU also backed a proposed $15 billion aid package to Ukraine, and told Russia it wouldn’t hesitate to impose economic sanctions.

An antitrust look at Comcast-Time Warner. The US Department of Justice launched an investigation into Comcast’s takeover of Time Warner Cable, scoping out the $45 billion deal for competition issues. The department recused its top antitrust official (paywall) from the probe to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

Cuba opened up about human rights. Cuba said it was willing to discuss its human rights record as part of negotiations to increase trade ties with the EU and end what it considers to be a one-way relationship. Last month the EU agreed to reopen talks with Havana, marking the biggest diplomatic shift since Brussels lifted sanctions on Cuba in 2008.

Sarkoleaks happened. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is suing for breach of privacy after a satirical magazine published conversations between him and his wife, supermodel Carla Bruni. Recorded by a former aide in 2011, the tapes capture Sarkozy joking that he is a “kept man,” while Bruni says, “There I was thinking I’d married a guy with a salary.”

Bitcoin’s creator was unmasked… and said it wasn’t him. After Newsweek revealed that the man who invented the cryptocurrency under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto really is called Satoshi Nakamoto and lives with his mother in Los Angeles, an absurdist media chase ensued, which ended with Nakamoto denying he created bitcoin.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on the hints that Spotify could be about to go public. “The music-streaming service Spotify is doing what looks like some pre-IPO spring cleaning. Spotify announced today that it has bought the company behind the algorithms it uses to power its personalized radio service. It is also reportedly talking to banks about establishing a credit facility, a common step before companies go public. And Spotify hired a senior executive from its newest rival, Beats Music, this week. Twitter and Facebook both pulled off significant acquisitions (of MoPub and Instagram, respectively) and shored up their financing in the run-up to their high-profile public offerings.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There’s no chance of another world war. The world has become too economically interconnected for a full-blown global conflict.  

Facebook might buy Tata Communications. After its purchase of WhatsApp, there’s an argument that buying the Indian telco wouldn’t be a crazy thing to do.

Positive thinking doesn’t have positive effects. It can do quite the opposite if you don’t really believe it at heart.

America isn’t a developed country. Its education, criminal justice system and gun violence record rank far below those countries it calls “third-world.”

You can’t trust central banks’ forecasts. The ECB consistently mis-estimates inflation and GDP growth.

Surprising discoveries

Bill Gates and Ben Bernanke got near-perfect SAT scores. So did James Franco and Ben Affleck.

@GSElevator lost his book deal. Now that the creator of the spoof Twitter account has been outed, Simon and Schuster isn’t interested.

North Korea holds elections too. They work a little differently from the ones you’re used to.

What’s in the US’s top-secret “black budget.” Here’s what the $59 billion of undisclosed military spending goes on.

200,000 people have applied to be on the first mission to Mars. Even though it’s a one-way trip.

WhatsApp’s founders use clunky old cell phones. And it’s not because they’re Luddites.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, SAT scores, and book offers to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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