Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Russia sanctions, Vodafone’s expansion, GM’s recall, Big Bang proof

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What to watch for today

The US Federal Reserve rethinks its forward guidance. No announcement is expected before Wednesday, and the central bank is expected to leave rates untouched and continue tapering its bond purchases. But the Fed could tweak its methods for communicating how long interest rates will remain low.

Disney’s investors battle for more power. At Walt Disney Co.’s annual meeting, shareholders will vote on a resolution that would give smaller stake owners the right to nominate board members and, they claim, promote independent candidates. A similar vote failed last year, with just 40% approval.

Any clarity in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. As the international search broadened, Malaysian authorities have backed away from their earlier claim that a key tracking system had been disabled before the cockpit crew’s last communications with ground control.

While you were sleeping

Russia made some attempt at compromise. Russia made its first negotiation proposal (paywall) since the Ukraine crisis began, offering military neutrality for Ukraine, among other things. But European Union officials dismissed the overture because it rests on international authorities recognizing Crimea’s secession referendum. The US and the EU ordered sanctions against certain Russian and Ukrainian officials.

Vodafone expanded its Spanish presence. The British telecom giant agreed to buy Ono, Spain’s largest cable operator, for €7.2 billion ($10 billion), using part of the proceeds from the $130 billion sale of its Verizon Wireless stake. Ono’s network covers 70% of Spain, or 7.2 million households.  

General Motors announced another recall. The US automaker recalled 1.5 million vehicles, just one month after announcing a recall of 1.6 million cars suffering from a faulty ignition switch. More than a million SUVs need their side airbags fixed, while overheating brakes on thousands of Cadillac sedans have already caused two fires.

General Electric got good news in Africa. GE was one of four companies picked by Transnet SOC, South Africa’s state-owned rail operator, to provide new trains as part of the country’s $4.7 billion upgrade. Canada’s Bombardier and China’s CNR Rolling Stock and CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive were also chosen.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the three charts that prove global markets don’t really care whether Crimea joins Russia. “To many observers the imposition of sanctions might sound like a worsening of the diplomatic situation. And it is. But markets seem to like the fact that the sanctions spotlighted individuals and largely left companies and payment systems alone. If the Obama administration was really looking to play rough, it could have taken a lot of tougher approaches. (Just look at Iran, for example.)” Read more here.  

Matters of debate

Apple designed the notification system on its iPhones to benefit businesses, not users. There’s no easy way to unsubscribe from all those pesky pop-up alerts.

Rupert Murdoch needs a Twitter chaperone. The media magnate’s tweets about the missing Malaysian flight are not appropriate for a CEO. His tweet about beer maker Guinness being “bullied by gay orgs” isn’t any better.

Leaning in doesn’t always work. This female academic lost a job offer because she pushed for equal pay.

Sanctions imposed on Russia are laughable. None of the named individuals has EU or US assets to freeze, and Putin gets off scot-free.

Surprising discoveries

Even male babysitters earn more than their female counterparts. Just 3% of US babysitters are men, but they earn an average hourly $15 to a woman’s $14.50.

Snail venom is a pretty potent painkiller. It’s 100 times more powerful than morphine.

A new luxury jet won’t have any windows. The plane will have display screens that could show the scenery outside, calming images, films, or even work documents.

Scientists found solid evidence for the Big Bang. They’ve detected gravitational waves that point to the universe’s exponential growth immediately after its creation.

Greece is drowning in pharmacists. Per capita, it has 74% more than its runner up, Bulgaria.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, outrageous CEO tweets, and over-the-top private jet plans to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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