Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Xiaomi’s growth, Etihad strands passengers, Zuckerberg’s book club, the war on sledding

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What to watch for today

Gadget launches from the Consumer Electronics Show. Tech companies are unveiling a barrage of new devices, including wearables and cheap 3D printers. Samsung CEO BK Yoon gives a CES keynote on the Internet of Thingsas his company grapples with a crisis linked to falling sales.

Nicolás Maduro visits his creditors. Venezuela’s president, struggling with a crumbling economy and low oil prices, meets with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (paywall), whose government has loaned Venezuela more than $50 billion since 2006.

The trial begins for the alleged Boston Marathon bomber. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces the death penalty if convicted of the 2013 bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260.

A severe cases of the Mondays. Researchers say workers could suffer from “social jetlag,” as holiday sleep patterns and post-festivities blues throw off their internal clocks and increase fatigue.

Over the weekend

Etihad Airlines passengers had a very long weekend. San Francisco-bound passengers were stranded on the Abu Dhabi tarmac for 12 hours due to severe fog, resulting in a 28-hour journey and a slew of angry complaints on social media. On a separate Etihad flight, Dusseldorf-bound passengers were similarly stranded for 13 hours, then rerouted to Vienna after an elderly man died en route.

The euro fell on Grexit fears. A disputed report that Germany is bracing for Greece’s departure from the shared currency, plus speculation that the European Central Bank is preparing a round of quantitative easing, pushed the euro to a nine-year low. Separately, oil prices hit a five-and-a-half year low due to concerns about weak demand.

Japan’s manufacturing sector grew for the seventh month. The Markit/JMMA purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.0 in December, marking a steady expansion in factory activity. Despite dipping into recession in the third quarter, the economy appears to be growing again due to higher consumer and corporate spending.

Xiaomi tripled its smartphone shipments in 2014. The Chinese gadget maker sold 61.1 million units last year, up from 18.7 million in 2013, and said it will expand into new countries throughout the year. Annual revenue rose 135% to 74.3 billion yuan ($11.9 billion).

Mark Zuckerberg vowed to read more books. The Facebook CEO will try to complete one book every two weeks as his annual goal for 2015, inviting Facebook users to read along and discuss with him. First up is The End of Power by Moisés Naím.

Pope Francis named 20 new cardinals. The latest appointees, most of whom are eligible to vote for the next pope, hail from 14 different nations, as the leader of the Catholic church continues to reshape its hierarchy with an emphasis on developing countries.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matthew Phillips on the socioeconomic appeal of the Downton Abbey television series: “Over and over, the series emphasizes the duty felt by members of nobility to provide jobs. For instance in season one, when Matthew Crawley—a middle-class professional from Manchester who stands to inherit the estate—suggests letting an un-needed butler go, Lord Grantham replies: ‘Is that quite fair? To deprive a man of his livelihood when he has done nothing wrong?’” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Actually, 2015 won’t suck. You’ll start eating junk food again, and maybe buy a selfie stick.

Firing Marissa Mayer would be a huge mistake. The Yahoo CEO’s social awkwardness is typical of any major CEO.

To save like the rich, diversify your funds. The top 20% have relatively little wealth tied up in their own homes (paywall).

Xiaomi needs to make something original. The smartphone maker’s IPO is otherwise sure to flop (paywall).

The future of air travel is boring. Fuel efficiency trumps all other innovations.

Surprising discoveries

US cities are banning sledding. They’d rather close down their hills than get sued.

The Empire Strikes Back came out closer to World War II than today. And other facts to make you feel old.

Sunday was the busiest night of the year for online dating. The result of leisure time and loneliness.

The real-life Pikachu is being exterminated. China considers the pika a pest.

American football teams in Europe have awesome names. Our dream matchup includes the Ostende Swans vs. the Fighting Turtles of Corbais.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, social jetlag cures, and American football mascots to You can follow us on Twitter here and on Facebook here for updates throughout the day.

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