Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—AirAsia tail found, US pipeline politics, Monster sues Beats, sunblocked grapes

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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.

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.

A record year for US jobs? Analysts expect ADP’s non-farm payroll data to show as many as 230,000 jobs were created in December. That would cap off 2014 as the year with the biggest gain in jobs since ADP started publishing its data in 2001.

While you were sleeping

Searchers located the AirAsia tail section. The tail from flight #8501 may contain the “black box” flight recorders that could shed light on the cause of the crash, but the boxes have not yet been found, according to the head of the Indonesian search and rescue agency.

EasyJet boosted passenger numbers in 2014. Full-year traffic for Europe’s second-largest budget carrier rose 6.5% to 65.3 million last year, thanks to increased routes and attempts to win over business travelers. Ryanair, Europe’s largest budget carrier, reported a 6% increase in traffic during the same period.

Monster sued Beats. The audio gear manufacturer filed a lawsuit claiming that it was unfairly cut out of its partnership with Beats Electronics before the company’s lucrative sale to Apple. Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre (aka Andre Young) were named as co-defendants, along with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC.

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 attack killed at least 30 people in Yemen. A minibus driver detonated explosives at a police enrollment center, killing recruits and bystanders. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but al-Qaeda in Yemen has carried out similar attacks in the past. Separately, a leftist group claimed responsibility (paywall) for a suicide bombing that killed a police officer in Istanbul on Tuesday.

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.

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

Disney should stop featuring massive men and skinny women. Its “extreme sex dimorphism” is hurting society.

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.

Surprising discoveries

Game of Thrones is coming to the big screen. The last two episodes of season four will be shown on US IMAX screens.

A knife-throwing routine drew blood on Lithuania’s Got Talent. The thrower’s wounded assistant was “calm but utterly terrified.”

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.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, footwear collateral, and sunscreened vintages to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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