Quartz Daily Brief—Possible MH370 debris, Ukraine concedes Crimea, Alibaba’s US investment, stress-induced empathy

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What to watch for today

Obama goes on daytime TV… The US president will appear on Ellen DeGeneres’ show to talk about Obamacare—his latest unconventional marketing foray, after appearing on the parody talk show Between Two Ferns.

…And his family goes to Beijing. First lady Michelle Obama, along with her daughters and mother, starts a six-day trip that includes visits to the Chinese capital and two other cities.

FIFA assesses human rights in Qatar. Soccer’s governing body will hear how the host of the 2022 World Cup plans to improve working conditions on construction sites. An estimated 4,000 migrant workers could die building the event’s facilities, labor groups have warned.

Nike tries to stay on top of its game. The athletic outfitter is set to post an 8% increase in third-quarter revenues. Investors will be looking out for any gains in China, where Nike has had some recent success.

While you were sleeping

Australia found possible MH370 debris. A satellite search found two large objects in a remote stretch of the south Indian Ocean, some 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) southwest of Kuala Lumpur. Surveillance aircraft are en route for a closer look.

Europe reached a banking union deal. Negotiators agreed on the final pieces of a single system to shut down failing banks in the EU, and a €55 billion ($76 billion) fund to cover the costs.

Ukraine conceded Crimea to Russia. Ukraine is pulling its last troops out of the breakaway province, saying that demilitarizing Crimea is “the best way to de-escalate the situation.” It now plans to reinforce its eastern border with Russia.

Alibaba made its biggest US investment yet. The Chinese e-commerce firm put $215 million into Tango, a mobile messaging start-up with about 70 million regular users, mostly in the US and Europe.

Hermes warned of lower profits under Abenomics. CEO Axel Dumas said that the luxury brand’s profitability will likely drop this year because of the weak yen. The company has already raised prices in Japan by 10% due to currency fluctuations.

China relaxed restrictions on foreign investors. The Shanghai Stock Exchange raised the shareholding limit for foreigners from 20% to 30% of a single company. Foreigners can also now trade asset-backed securities.

BYD returned to health. Net income at the Warren Buffett-backed electric automaker rose 10% to $89 million in 2013, rebounding after a disastrous 2012. The company also supplies batteries to smartphone manufacturers.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on the slow death of the microwave. “Microwave sales have fallen or remained flat every year for nearly a decade in the US. Unit sales have tumbled by 25% since 2000, and 40% since their peak, in 2004. The waning popularity of the American microwave deserves a closer look. For 40 years, Americans bought microwaves by the millions, and more of them each year. Some 90% of American households now own a microwave, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That broad market penetration is likely one reason that sales have tailed off.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Heroin’s revival is the fault of doctors. 80% of new US addicts started with prescription pills.

Kickstarter isn’t ethical. Or so claims this game developer, who raised more than $100,000 last year on the crowd-funding site.

Don’t blindly trust data-based journalism. It looks authoritative, but it’s still prone to bias.

China’s housing crash could be worse than America’s. After years of binge-building, the country has far more floor space than it needs.

Surprising discoveries

How Japanese whiskey beat out Scotch. Companies like Suntory have been working on it since 1918—with a little help from Bill Murray.

Taiwan’s navy has a stealth catamaran. It’s intended to destroy aircraft carriers.

Kids with a sweet tooth have an evolutionary advantage. They tend to be taller.

There’s an app for anti-social networking. Cloak pulls in location data to warn you when people you know are nearby.

Women become more empathetic when they’re stressed. The opposite is true of men.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Japanese whiskey, and stress-induced empathy to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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