Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Al-Jazeera journalist freed, Chinese execs quit, DSK in the dock, tip creep

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What to watch for today

The US president submits his annual budget to Congress. A new tax on companies’ foreign earnings is expected.

Earnings above and below ground. In Europe, look for results from Irish low-cost airline Ryanair. In the US, ExxonMobil will reveal how much its profits have suffered from the plunging oil price, and might drop hints about where it sees energy markets going in the future.

Meetings, meetings, meetings. The new Greek finance minister visits his equivalents in the UK and Italy after spending time in France to push for debt relief. German chancellor Angela Merkel goes to Budapest to meet Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. In Beijing, the foreign ministers of China, Russia, and India meet in the latest round of trilateral talks.

D-S-K goes on trial. The disgraced former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, begins his defense with 13 others in Lille in northern France over their roles in an alleged prostitution ring.

Over the weekend

Egypt moved to free two jailed al-Jazeera journalists. Australian Peter Greste has been released and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy is expected to be freed soon, after 400 days in jail on controversial charges of working with the Muslim Brotherhood, which they deny. The fate of Egyptian Baher Mohamed remains unclear, but al-Jazeera said it would not rest until all three were freed.

Syriza changed its tune. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras told Bloomberg that the country will repay its loans to the IMF and ECB. A deal with other euro zone creditors is coming soon, he added. German chancellor Angela Merkel has dismissed the idea of debt relief.

China’s manufacturing contracts. A private purchasing managers’ index for small- and medium-sized enterprises, hit 49.7 in January, up slightly from December’s 49.6 but still below the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. The government’s official index fell below 50 for the first time in almost two and a half years on Sunday.

Japan’s manufacturing is growing. The Markit/JMMA purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.2 in January, from 52.0 in December, pointing to a faster rate of expansion in factory activity. That should be good news for prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is still struggling to raise inflation levels.

Chinese execs step down. Mao Xioafeng left his post as president at China Minsheng Bank, the country’s largest privately-owned lender, for “personal reasons,” amid reports he is caught up in a corruption investigation. Jin Zhigang, the CEO of struggling Chinese property developer Kaisa Group, resigned to “devote more time to his personal career development.”

Line gets into groceries. The Japanese-based mobile messaging app is rolling out a supermarket delivery service in Thailand. Thailand is already one of Line’s top markets with 36 million users, and the company plans to expand delivery services through Southeast Asia.

Ukrainian peace talks faltered as violence escalated. The death toll is mounting in eastern Ukraine amid a renewed offensive by pro-Russian rebels, Reuters reports. Weekend talks in Minsk between representatives from Ukraine, separatist groups, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe broke down.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Kirsten Narula on how Cadbury lost the right to sell its own chocolate in the US. “Considering Hershey has owned the Cadbury brand in the US since 1988, some might say that stateside importers of the British Cadbury chocolates—and their customers—are lucky to have been able to skirt the legal consequences of the official arrangement for as long as they did.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

We need to rethink “dictators.” Today’s autocrats care more about public opinion than some Western governments do.

American football may be on the verge of collapse. Scandals can’t hurt it but demographics might soon end the game.

Don’t knock the V-steam. It is mocked as a spa day for your undercarriage, but actually has health benefits.

Genetic modification is no less natural than traditional farming. That’s because all farming is unnatural.

There is no such thing as Indian food. So says a Jaipur-born, Michelin-starred chef in New York.

Surprising discoveries

A three-year-old shot both his parents. The US toddler found his mother’s gun while looking for an iPod.

Mobile payment apps encourage “tip creep.” They can guilt you into paying a 50% tip on a coffee.

Binge-watching TV is a sign of depression. The more lonely and depressed people are, the more likely they are to binge.

Flu deaths rise during big sporting events. So does spousal abuse.

A bike map of New York for your brain. It pinpoints both relaxing and attention-demanding routes.

Someone published each revised draft of their novel simultaneously. So you can see the writing process from start to finish.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, guilty tips, and virtual bike maps to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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