What to watch for today
Greece’s new prime minister unveils his cabinet. Greece-watchers will be curious to see how Alexis Tsipras organizes a cabinet that will include MPs from his radical left-wing Syriza and the right-wing Independent Greeks party. Tsipras told the BBC that it is impossible for Greece to repay its debt in full.
Apple talks earnings. The company is expected to report that it sold a record number of iPhones in the last three months of 2014 after making the phone bigger. Analysts also expect a 15% increase in sales of Macs and a similar-sized drop in iPads.
Procter & Gamble talks sell-offs. The consumer goods giant is in the process of selling off half of its brands to focus on the 70 to 80 that generate over 90% of its profit. Its fiscal second-quarter earnings announcement is a chance to update investors on how that two-year sales spree is going.
Yahoo talks taxes. CEO Marissa Mayer will reveal what the internet company plans to do with its roughly $40 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which went public last year. The key question is how Yahoo can sell some of the shares without a massive tax bill.
While you were sleeping
A blizzard shut down the northeast US. Five states declared a state of emergency, transport was disrupted across the region, and almost 8,000 flights were canceled as heavy snow hit the east coast. In New York City, mayor Bill De Blasio banned non-essential travel after 11pm, including realtime delivery services like Seamless and Amazon.
Microsoft’s core business struggled. Quarterly sales rose 8% to $26.5 billion, just above Wall Street expectations, and the company’s shift to subscription-based cloud services continued, with commercial cloud revenues up 114% year-over-year. But shares fell 2% in after-hours trading, as weak PC sales hurt demand for Windows and Microsoft Office.
Qantas scrapped its fuel surcharge. The Australian flag-carrier said it would restructure its tariff system but customers are not in fact likely to save any money, as the cost of fuel will be calculated into the ticket price. It’s another reminder that fuel surcharges make about as much sense as a ”surcharge” for flight attendants.
Standard & Poors downgraded Russia to junk. The ratings agency cut Russia’s sovereign credit rating to BB+, a level below investment grade. The not entirely unexpected news (paywall), along with continued fighting in Ukraine, sent the ruble sliding to a six-week low.
ISIL has been driven out of Kobani. A four-month battle, which included US-led air strikes on Islamic State forces, has finally ended, and Kurdish forces have retaken control of the town near Turkey’s border with Syria. The fighting killed 1,600 people, displaced 100 times more, and destroyed half of the town.
A busted Russian spy ring was a throwback to the Cold War. The FBI arrested Evgeny Buryakov, who was allegedly posing as a Russian banker in New York to gather intelligence about the US financial system, on espionage charges. The bureau< tapped a secret office where Buryakov and two other men discussed their work as Russian agents.
Quartz obsession interlude
Zachary M. Seward on how the future of TV has finally arrived. “For sports fans, Sling TV will be an appealing option because it’s the cheapest way to access ESPN. For everyone else, the service is more symbolic—worth following, if not subscribing to—because it shows what TV is becoming as it moves to the internet.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Japan needs to legalize satire. Comedians face serious reprisals for poking fun at the powerful.
Sand is a matter of national security. Some countries reclaiming land from the ocean are actually buying sand stolen from their neighbors.
Syriza has some hard choices ahead. Greeks hate austerity but don’t actually want Greece to leave the euro.
It’s smart to ditch your smartphone. A “dumb” Nokia will save your sanity and make you a better friend.
Tech firms have become as arrogant as Wall Street. That includes resisting laws that protect people and jobs (paywall).
Havana youths created a secret internet. They use it to play online games and share media.
Fashion bloggers were sent to work in sweat shops. They recorded their experiences as part of a reality show.
The astroid that just flew past Earth had its own moon. It’s only 230 feet (70 meters) wide.
You can sleep in a Tesla on Airbnb. A US man put his Model S up on home-share app for $85 a night as a “Tesla hotel.”
A French couple tried to name their child “Nutella.” A judge truncated the name to “Ella” lest it ”lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts.”