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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Greek anti-euro victory, BA-Aer Lingus tie-up, Obama-Modi talks, genetically-modified mosquitoes

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Greek’s radical left party tries to form a ruling coalition. A larger-than-expected margin of victory this weekend gave the anti-austerity Syriza party 149 seats in the 300-seat Greek parliament. Party leader Alexis Tsipras will meet with the right-wing Independent Greeks party, which also opposes austerity measures imposed by international lenders, in an attempt to secure an absolute majority.

A huge blizzard looms over New York. Airlines canceled more than 800 flights after the US National Weather Service said 2 to 3 feet of snow could fall between New Jersey and Massachusetts over the next two days—the heaviest snowfall in more than 100 years.

Auschwitz is remembered. German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

Earnings and data. Microsoft releases its latest quarterly earnings, just days after unveiling Windows 10 and some holographic virtual reality goggles. Texas Instruments also reports quarterly results. For data, look for the US Congressional Budget Office’s annual forecast, Spanish inflation, German confidence readings from the Ifo Institute, and the Israeli central bank’s interest-rate decision.

Over the weekend

The euro plunged after Greece’s election. Syriza’s resounding victory could rewrite the relationship between Greece and the euro zone, pushing the currency to its lowest level against the dollar in more than 11 years. But the Greek radical left party could face a schism between pragmatists and hardliners who want Greece to quit the common currency.

British Airways’ owner closed in on an Aer Lingus aquisition. The Irish flag carrier is reportedly set to accept a €1.3 billion ($1.45 billion) buyout offer from IAG as soon as this week, giving the company additional landing and take-off slots at Heathrow airport. Any deal would need the sign-off of the Irish government and budget carrier Ryanair, which both own large Aer Lingus stakes.

Japanese exports surged. A weak yen and a spike in demand from the US led to a 12.9% growth in exports in December, the largest in a year, cutting Japan’s trade deficit in half from a year earlier.

The US and India made progress on their nuclear deal. US president Barack Obama and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced that they had removed obstacles to US investment in India’s nuclear energy development, a step toward delivering on the promise of a landmark 2008 agreement. Modi also signaled that India is moving toward joining an international deal on global warming.

Boko Haram extended their attacks in Nigeria. Dozens of people were reported killed and tens of thousands have fled after the Islamist militants took control of the northeastern town of Monguno and gained on the strategically-important city of Maiduguri. US secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Nigeria to support the fight against the group.

ISIL killed a Japanese hostage. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said a video released on the web that shows one of two Japanese hostages holding a picture of the body of the other is probably authentic. ISIL threatened to execute the men after Japan pledged aid to Middle Eastern countries fighting the terrorist group.

The “invisible” 2016 Republican primary began. Undeclared presidential hopefuls—including past candidates Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and Sarah Palin, and rising stars Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Ted Cruz—courted Christian conservatives in Iowa. Meanwhile, a private gathering of wealthy conservative political donors hosted by the influential brothers Charles and David Koch is underway in Florida.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on why Obama should not meet the new Saudi king this week. “Public beheadings are common in the kingdom—87 people were executed last year, mostly by decapitation. Saudi Arabia is also one of just four countries that still execute offenders who are minors. Recently, the website Middle East Eye pointed out that the punishments meted out by Saudi Arabia are almost identical to those inflicted by ISIL.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Vaccine holdouts shouldn’t go to Disneyland. It’s wrong to inflict dangerous choices on other peoples’ children.

Davos could solve the gender inequality problem. The World Economic Forum is where connections are made to effect change.

This is when the Arab Spring ended. Inside the Egyptian coup that swept the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi out of power.

Donating money, clothes, and food is passé. Soon you can donate your personal data to save the world.

It’s time to buy a really good camera. Do you really want your best moments captured on your “good enough” cameraphone?

Surprising discoveries

There’s an app for using other people’s toilets. Airpnp lets you pay to use a stranger’s bathroom.

Breakfast began in the 1500s. Little attention was paid to the morning meal before the Tudors made it fashionable.

Genetically-modified mosquitoes may be released in Florida. Over 130,000 people have signed a petition protesting the experiment.

Some jihadis have a twisted sense of humor. They hacked Malaysian Airlines’ website to show a message saying “404 – Plane Not Found.

The triumphant Greek leftists’ first tweet was to actor Hugh Laurie. The man who played Dr. House had just congratulated him.

Ancient Mesopotamian soldiers had PTSD. Assyrian soldiers found themselves being “visited by ghosts.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, breakfast origin stories, and Mesopotamian PTSD cures to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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