Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Russia sanctions, Vodafone-Ono deal, Chinese IPOs, Steve Jobs: The Opera

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What to watch for today

The US and Europe sanction Russia. Punitive measures including visa bans and asset freezes are an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from annexing Crimea (see below). Global stocks traded near a one-month low as investors worried about the possible economic impact—but Russian stocks rallied (paywall).

Mystery news on the origin of the universe. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics will announce a major discovery at 11:55 ET. Some suspect that “primordial gravitational waves”—theoretical ripples in space-time created in the moments after the Big Bang—have finally been detected.

St. Patrick’s Day without Guinness. The Irish brewer cancelled its sponsorship of the giant New York parade because organizers refused to allow gay and lesbian groups to march openly. Heineken also cancelled its sponsorship, as did Sam Adams for Boston’s parade.

Twitter visits China. CEO Dick Costolo is meeting with government leaders and academics in Shanghai. Twitter has been blocked for China’s 600 million internet users since 2009, and the company said it had “no plans to change anything about our service in order to enter the market.”

Over the weekend

Crimea’s pro-Russia referendum passed in a landslide. Some 97% of Crimean voters opted to leave the Ukraine and join Russia. Ethnic Russians comprise 58.5% of Crimea’s population; the referendum offered no option for voters who wanted the constitution to remain unchanged.

Vodafone bought into Spain. The company agreed to buy cable firm Ono for $7.2 billion euros ($10 billion), as it invests the proceeds from its Verizon Wireless sale into its core European market.

The search for Malaysia’s missing jet widened to 11 countries, spanning tens of thousands of miles on land and sea. Despite evidence that the plane took “tactical evasion maneuvers,” US intelligence officials say there is no evidence of a terrorist plot thus far.

The liberated yuan fell. The People’s Bank of China widened the currency’s allowable trading range from 1% to 2%, meaning China’s currency can float more freely against the dollar. In the first day of trading the yuan slipped by 0.44%—an 11-month low.

Banks got tough on forex traders. Barclays, Citigroup, and Royal Bank of Scotland withheld bonuses for their foreign exchange trading teams (paywall) while investigations into market fixing are pending.

Chinese tech companies chose US floatations… Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblogging website, filed papers to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Soon after, Chinese internet giant Alibaba said it would hold its highly-anticipated IPO in the United States rather than Hong Kong.

…While Jimmy Choo opted for a London IPO. Labelux, the Swiss firm that bought Jimmy Choo for £525 million ($873 million) in 2011, is looking to float a small stake of the luxury shoe company on the London Stock Exchange. The deal could value Jimmy Choo at £1 billion (paywall); funds raised would fuel the firm’s expansion in Asia.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on the first “app store” for hardware. “The most successful technologies are those aimed at what Steve Jobs called “things people want to do.” That is, they answer a human need that has remained constant throughout history, rather than cater a particular “market.” I’m convinced that Mighty Cast’s NEX band—or something like it—is one of these technologies, the sort that has the potential to grow well beyond its original purpose.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

We are all anti-capitalists. Digital technology is leading us away from classical economies of scale.

Africa needs drones more than roads. They can carry goods to market and deliver medication to remote villages.

Paul Ryan’s Irish ancestors would be ashamed. The congressman is repeating the mistakes of the English during Ireland’s great famine.

American science is going private. What happened to public science for the public good?

Children’s book are way too white. Last year, only 93 out of 3,200 US kids’ books published were about black people (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

Begging is booming in Saudi Arabia. A 100-year-old beggar in Jeddah was revealed to have a $1 million estate when she died.

Algorithmic matchmaking predates OKCupid by 3,500 years. It can be traced back to an early form of Hinduism in 1500 BCE.

There’s a vegetable even healthier than kale. Brace yourself for BrusselKale.

The definitive guide to selfies, from the tellfie to the wealfie.

Steve Jobs: The Opera. It’s based on Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” but set in 20th century Silicon Valley.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, BrusselKale smoothies, and dating algorithms to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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