Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama’s tax showdown, China’s stocks tumble, Uber plays nice, SUV revival

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What to watch for today

Obama proposes taxes on investing. Republicans are expected outline their response to reports suggesting (paywall) the US president will call on Congress to raise taxes on investments and inheritance, as well as expand tax breaks for middle-class families.

A rival to Apple Pay? Google is in talks to acquire Softcard, a mobile payments company co-owned by AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). PayPal is also said to be interested. All of those companies are figuring out how best to respond to Apple’s mobile wallet.

Europe meets on terror. Foreign ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss the best way to deal with radicalized Europeans returning home after fighting in Iraq and Syria. Over the weekend, suspected terrorists were arrested in Belgium, France, and Germany, and troops were deployed alongside police in some European cities.

The US remembers Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights leader, whose 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” remains relevant reading today, will be commemorated during a national holiday. Markets will be closed.

Over the weekend

Chinese stocks were hit by a crackdown. Chinese stocks took a tumble after regulators cracked down on high-risk margin trading at three of the country’s largest securities firms. The Shanghai Composite Index slid as much as 7.7%, as did the CSI300, an index of the largest public companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Uber started to play by the rules. The ride-hailing app began connecting its users to licensed taxis in the South Korean city of Incheon to comply with rules that ban it from connecting people with private cars. In Europe, CEO Travis Kalanick said he would create jobs and could share data with cities there.

Brazil and the Netherlands recalled ambassadors from Indonesia. That’s after six men, including a Brazilian and a Dutch man, were executed by firing squad in Indonesia for drug offenses.

Global powers dallied on Iran’s nuclear program. Deputy foreign ministers from Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the US met in Geneva to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, after meetings between US secretary of state John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawed Zarif in Geneva and Paris. The Obama administration lobbied against imposing fresh sanctions.

The UK’s financial sector had a very good quarter. The Confederation of British Industry said the sector saw the biggest rise in demand since 1996 in the final three months of last year. “Overall optimism, business volumes, and profits” were all up, the CBI said.

The International Criminal Court opened a probe into Israel. The ICC is looking into the possibility Israel committed war crimes (paywall) in the occupied Palestinian territories—an investigation that Israel has opposed.

Macquarie Group raised its profit forecast. Australia’s biggest investment bank said fiscal 2015 profit could be A$1.4-1.5 billion ($1.15-1.23 billion), a rise of 10-20% on a year earlier.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Philips spells out absolutely everything you need to understand what happened to the Swiss franc last week. “But if you’re looking for scary implications, here’s the biggest: The Swiss National Bank has effectively thrown in the towel in the fight against deflation, which is emerging as the major economic bogeyman of 2015.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Republican states make Obamacare more costly for residents. They’re adding costly bureaucracy so they don’t have to admit they’re implementing the president’s original plan.

The future of books looks a lot like the past. We’re still finding and reading in much the same ways.

To end the “war on women,” liberate male sexuality. So says a dominatrix.

France should treat its Muslims like it treats its Jews. France’s care for its Jewish community is almost parental.

It may be time to start panicking over Greece. Greek banks’ requests for emergency cash could be a precursor to investors pulling money out.

Pirates are winning this year’s Oscars battle. An alarming number of in-theater movies have flooded onto torrent sites.

Surprising discoveries

There is now an anti-drone drone. It drops string into other drones’ rotors.

Maybe you should try a lying-down desk. The desks enable laptop owners to work comfortably from their bed.

A 132-year-old rifle was found leaning against a tree. Historians aren’t sure how long the Winchester rifle was standing in a Nevada national park.

Cities on earth evolve in the same way as galaxies in space. Researchers developed a law governing how we live in cities modeled on the spread of galaxies.

West Ham is really cursed. The Premier League soccer club’s shirt sponsors keep going bust.

Americans are addicted to trucks again. Large SUVs are enjoying a post-recession revival.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, drone countermeasures, and sleeping desks to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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