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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Russia sanctions escalate, Thai election voided, lost bitcoins found, Crimea’s manga superstar

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Tiffany sparkles. The high-end jeweler is set to post a jump in quarterly profits after one of its strongest holiday seasons ever. The low price of gold is also a good sign for the company’s profit margins.

Mexico holds steady. The central bank is forecast to maintain its benchmark interest rate at 3.5%, a record low designed to encourage economic recovery, even though inflation is running above the bank’s target rate of 4%.

Australia searches for MH370 in the middle of nowhere. Investigators are seeking debris from the missing Malaysian airline in the south Indian Ocean, described as “one of the remotest and most hostile areas in the world.”

Russia approves Crimea’s annexation. The upper house of parliament will rubber-stamp incorporating Crimea into Russia; the lower house vote was 445 to 1.

An asteroid won’t hit Earth. Despite internet rumors, an asteroid called 2003 QQ47 will not collide with our planet on March 21, instead whizzing safely past next week.

While you were sleeping

Russia approved Crimea’s annexation. The upper house of parliament rubber-stamped incorporating Crimea into Russia on a unanimous vote.

Sanctions took effect against Bank Rossiya… Visa and Mastercard stopped processing transactions for the sanctioned Russian bank. Russia’s deputy foreign minister said the West should face reciprocal penalties.

… while Europe added 12 more names to its sanctions list. Travel bans and asset freezes were imposed on more Russians and Crimeans, bringing the total number of people on the EU’s list to 33.

Thailand’s general election was declared void. The country’s constitutional court nullified February’s disputed vote, shooting down any hopes of a working government while the political standoff grinds on.

Turkey blocked Twitter. Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to take down the social network that was used to release damaging information about him. But his attempts at shutting down the service have had mixed results.

China’s shoppers stayed home. Retail sales are the biggest drag on the Chinese economy so far this year, making it increasingly unlikely that premier Li Keqiang will achieve GDP growth of 7.5% this year without additional stimulus.

Mt. Gox found some spare change. The bankrupt exchange said it discovered 200,000 bitcoins, worth $115 million, that it thought it had lost. Account holders have filed a class-action lawsuit against Mt. Gox in an attempt to recover some of their assets.

A $7.2 billion win for Gina Rinehart. The controversial Australian mining billionaire secured a record-setting debt financing deal for her massive Roy Hill iron ore project. When the mine comes online, there are fears it could exacerbate a looming supply glut in iron ore.

Quartz obsession interlude

Mark DeCambre on Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s comeback as a hedge-fund boss. “Strauss-Kahn’s resume may be a tad unsavory for some potential hedge fund clients. But one shouldn’t underestimate him. He sits on the board of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, and calls Russian president Vladimir Putin a comrade. (Of course, given Putin’s recent adventures in Ukraine, that fact may do more harm than good.) ” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Putin is breaking the rules that prevent World War III. And he feels justified in doing so.

Unplugging from the internet is pointless puritanism. The “real world” is an insidious idea.

Child safety concerns are ruining childhood. Overprotected kids aren’t much safer anyway.

Too much success can kill a company. Once a culture of arrogance takes hold, it’s all downhill.

Surprising discoveries

Crimea’s new prosector general is big in Japan. The photogenic Natalia Poklonskaya has become an unwitting cartoon sensation.

How to disrupt Spotify. Listen to one band’s sounds of silence over and over again.

Our brains are wired to binge-watch TV. Now you have another excuse to spend your whole evening with Netflix.

Police are re-examining Kurt Cobain’s death. They found film that sat in an evidence vault for 20 years after his purported suicide.

Even Barack Obama might ditch his BlackBerry. The US president’s favorite smartphone could be replaced by Samsung or LG.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Cobain theories, and sounds of silence to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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