What to watch for today
Carnival reports on its competition. Investors in the world’s largest cruise operator want to know how it is handling European competitors which offer cheaper trips around the Caribbean, and what expansion plans Carnival has in Asia.
Germany’s foreign minister pays Ukraine a visit. Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin. Exactly what’s on the agenda isn’t clear, but Ukraine’s urgent need for a $15 billion loan to prevent its economy from faltering could come up.
While you were sleeping
China added $305 billion to last year’s GDP. Beijing increased the estimated size of the national economy in 2013 by 3.4% to 58.8 trillion yuan ($9.5 trillion). The gain came mostly from an adjustment in the value of the services sector, but the GDP figure may be significantly lower if measured by non-Chinese standards.
Thai Union snapped up Bumblebee Foods. The world’s largest producer of tinned tuna agreed to buy the US’s biggest tuna and sardine company for $1.51 billion. Thai Union has plans to expand its North American portfolio, and anticipates raising Bumblebee’s revenue by 25%.
Japan maintained its stimulus. The central bank will add 80 trillion yen ($672 billion) to the monetary base annually, in line with expectations. Falling oil prices are a real headache for the bank, as they risk lowering inflation, just as the BOJ is trying to stoke it.
American Apparel received a buyout offer. Irving Place Capital first expressed interest a few weeks ago, and has since raised its offer to $1.30 to 1.40 per share(paywall). Share prices jumped 45% on the news to $1.
Unilever dropped a lawsuit over eggless mayo. One of the world’s largest food companies previously sued Hampton Creek over its “Just Mayo,” an alternative to mayonnaise made from plants instead of eggs (paywall). Also on Thursday, three-year-old Hampton Creek received a further $90 million in backing, bringing its valuation to $500 million.
The US said three top ISIL leaders were killed in Iraq. General Martin Dempsey, the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, told The Wall Street Journal (paywall) that the deaths of these “high-value targets” took place in recent weeks.
Quartz obsession interlude
Nikhil Sonnad peeks behind The Great Firewall. “It’s just another day in the propaganda department of Zhanggong, a district in southeast China’s modestly sized city of Ganzhou. Employees and freelancers are paid to post pro-government messages on the internet, part of a broader effort to ‘guide public opinion,’ as the Chinese Communist Party frequently puts it. The details of these directives are usually hidden from public view. But thousands of emails obtained from the Zhanggong propaganda department by a Chinese blogger—and released on his website—offer a rare view into the mechanics of manipulating web conversation in China at its most local level.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Nobody knows whether the Sony hack was cyber warfare. We don’t have exact definitions of that term—although a NATO convention permits bombing in response if it was.
We need to create the erasable internet. Automatically saving every communication clearly has its flaws.
Women need their own version of Viagra. Men have 26 drugs for sexual dysfunction, but women have none.
The US has no right to sanction over human rights issues. Not when it abuses its own people at home (paywall).
Jesus never existed. There is scant evidence to support the theory that there was a man who lived the life described by religious texts.
Nobody has blue eyes. Their eyes are made up of particles which only reflect blue light.
Sony launched a promo for The Interview by mistake. It looks like the studio forgot to unschedule it from its YouTube channel.
Do you fall asleep in front of the TV? Two teenagers invented a bracelet that will pause your program and record it for you.
A fifth of Europeans don’t use the internet. Romania is the most disconnected country; everyone in Iceland is jacked in.
Brits are getting greener. The average person in the UK uses 10% less electricity than they did five years ago.
Scientists discovered the world’s oldest water. They think there’s more of it under the Earth’s crust than on top of it.
Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.