What to watch for today
Greece, meet Europe. Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will meet Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank, which is resisting (paywall) his proposal to swap out the country’s debt for new bonds linked to its economic growth. Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly willing to wait until April or May for Greece’s bailout money to run out before negotiating the terms of the country’s debt.
Obama’s defense secretary gets put through the ringer. Chuck Hagel’s replacement, if US president Barack Obama has his way after today’s Senate hearing, will be Ashton Carter, who will be the country’s fourth Pentagon chief in Obama’s six-year tenure.
Jeb Bush starts kissing babies. The brother and son of two former US presidents may run for president himself in 2016. Today he’ll give a talk in Detroit, Michigan, which is considered a key state if Bush has any hope of getting the Republican nomination.
Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. Companies reporting: General Motors, Merck, Twenty-First Century Fox, Yum! Brands, Toyota, and GlaxoSmithKline. As for economic data: European and UK PMI figures for January, and private payroll firm ADP report US job growth.
While you were sleeping
ISIL hit a new peak of brutality. A video from the Islamic State group appeared to show Jordanian air force pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned alive. (US authorities are still working to verify it.) Jordan confirmed the killing, saying it happened a month ago, and scheduled executions for five convicted terrorists.
BP tightened its belt. The oil company beat forecasts for underlying profit, but largely because of a change in accounting at Russian oil company Rosneft, in which it owns a stake; moreover the profit figure doesn’t include certain one-time charges (paywall). BP also cut its planned spending on new projects for 2015 by about 20%, to $20 billion.
The UK legalized three-parent babies. It’s the first country to authorize a procedure replacing the nuclear DNA of an egg with another woman’s DNA, designed to help women with mitochondrial disease have healthy children. The resulting child has three genetic parents.
Standard & Poor’s settled with the US government. After an acrimonious battle with prosecutors, the rating agency agreed to pay $1.38 billion for allegedly inflating the ratings of securities based on mortgages—mortgages that then defaulted and sparked the 2008 financial crisis. S&P reached an $80 million settlement on related charges last month with the SEC.
Samsung played musical chairs on the eve of its most important product. The unveiling of the Galaxy S6, expected next month in Barcelona, will go ahead without Kim Seok-pil, the executive responsible for its launch, who has reportedly had to bow out for health reasons (paywall). Samsung, fending off competition from both Apple and Xiaomi, badly needs the S6 to do better than the S5.
A bidding war began over Vietnamese beer. Thailand’s Thai Beverage—maker of Chang beer—and Singha are both reportedly looking to buy a 40% stake (paywall) in Sabeco, Vietnam’s state-controlled brewery. The cost of the deal is said to be in the $1 billion range. This isn’t the first time (paywall) Thai Beverage has expressed interest in the Vietnamese company.
Quartz obsession interlude
Kabir Chibber on why Greece will lose its fight with Europe. ”Since Greece’s Syriza party came to power, things have been tense in the euro zone. The party’s anti-austerity, anti-bail-out platform has put it on a collision course with its benefactors, especially Germany, which has footed a big chunk of the bill to keep the single currency together. Greece is currently playing a game of chicken with Germany, the EU, the European Central Bank, and others. Many think that its creditors will cave. But there is another way of looking at it.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Anti-vaccine parents are being selfish. Even if you don’t want them for your kid, refusing them puts other kids at risk.
The US recession screwed older millennials. Younger young Americans—those between 18 and 24—are doing far better than their 25-to-34-year-old counterparts.
Don’t tell your children how much you make. You need to give them cause for optimism but discourage them from thinking that money is everything.
Increasing the minimum wage does overcome poverty. At least in developing markets like China and Brazil.
To fight global warming, improve women’s rights. More empowered, better-off women will have fewer children and slow down population growth.
Arming Ukraine is a bad idea. Russia can easily crush the country, especially if arming Ukraine makes the conflict look like a war with NATO.
Go jogging, but not too much. People who run more than four hours a week die at the same rate as those who don’t at all; 2.5 hours a week is the sweet spot.
Bureaucracy is coming to the moon. The US government is already working out how to license lunar businesses.
If you don’t tune out, you don’t sleep. A new study done on 10,000 teenagers shows getting less than five hours of rest a night is common—blame glowing rectangles.
Eight out of 74. That’s how many of China’s biggest cities meet the country’s clean air guidelines.
High tuition fees are causing female students to seek sugar daddies. Over 200 women at one Northern Ireland university have signed up for the website “Seeking Arrangement.”
Paganism is back. A temple dedicated to the Norse gods Thor, Odin and Frigg is being built in Iceland—the first such temple in a millennium.