What to watch for today
A Keystone XL hearing. The Republican-led US Congress is wasting no time trying to approve the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport tar-sand oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. President Barack Obama has already said he’ll veto the measure if it reaches his desk.
Fed minutes. Everyone agrees interest rates need to go up, but the problem is deciding when. Today’s minutes from the US central bank’s December policy meeting may shed some light on what the decision-makers think.
The euro takes another knock. With the currency ringing in 2015 by hitting a nine-year low, inflation data could send it plunging further. Consumer consumer prices are expected to show their first contraction since 2009, which might push the European Central Bank to start up a bond-buying program this year.
Monsanto reports quarterly earnings. The world’s largest seed company announces its fiscal first-quarter results, as it fights increased competition and public pushback on genetically modified crops. Some analysts predict up to a 50% drop in earnings.
Merkel and Cameron meet in London. Germany’s chancellor will present a compromise to the British prime minister, offering support on welfare curbs in exchange for Britain agreeing not to seek an exemption to the EU rules on freedom of movement between countries.
While you were sleeping
Shell shelled out for Nigerian oil spills. The oil giant agreed to pay $84 million in compensation for two oil spills in 2008 and 2009 in the Niger Delta. Almost 16,000 fishermen will receive $3,300 each, and the remaining $30 million will be distributed to the wider community.
A suicide bomber struck an Istanbul police station. One police officer was killed and another was injured after a woman entered a station in a popular tourist district and detonated a bomb. Turkey’s far-left DHKP-C group has carried out several attacks on police stations in the past, including one just last week.
Big Pharma linked up with Silicon Valley. 23andMe, a self-testing DNA firm backed by Google, received an initial $10 million from Genentech, with a potential $50 million to follow. The deal will allow Genentech to access 23andme’s vast genomics database to find patients at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
American Apparel banned workplace romances. The clothing brand known for provocative ads published a code of ethics on its website banning staff from making “sexual advances, welcome or unwelcome” towards subordinates. It recently fired founder and CEO Dov Charney over alleged sexual misconduct.
Investors ditched Michael Kors. A Credit Suisse analyst downgraded the luxury fashion brand’s in response to a “dramatic” increase in discounts. The company’s share price had risen steadily since its 2011 listing until six months ago, when it began declining due to fears about excess inventory and falling demand.
Quartz obsession interlude
Matt Phillips on America’s rebound. “The US economy of today is different from the US economy of the 1980s. It’s much more energy efficient, for example. Nonetheless, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the recent collapse in oil and gasoline prices. In an economy that is as consumption-driven as the US, it’s really worth paying attention to.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Purified poop water is perfectly safe. Bill Gates proves the point as he promotes a device for the developing world.
India has a science problem. The country spends hardly anything on R&D compared to the US and China.
The wave of migrants to Europe isn’t going to stop. So policymakers had better come up with realistic solutions.
“Monthly unique users” is not a useful statistic. Making an impression matters most—even if it’s hard to measure.
Nikes can keep you out of jail. A US judge accepted one man’s new shoes in lieu of bail money.
Eight new planets were discovered in habitable zones. They’re just far enough from their stars to have liquid water.
An Australian vintner is spraying sunblock on his grapes. Climate change is wreaking havoc with the country’s vineyards.
Space, now in super HD. NASA’s famously beautiful “Pillars of Creation” photo is now available at twice the resolution.