Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Taipei plane crash, Greece-ECB talks, weak yen bonuses, mayonnaise controversies

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What to watch for today

Greece goes to the ECB. Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is in Frankfurt to push the case that his country should be allowed to raise new short-term funds while it renegotiates its existing debts. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi is reportedly unimpressed by the idea (paywall).

A new boss at the Pentagon. Ashton Carter is expected to gain Senate approval to replace Chuck Hagel, becoming the fourth US defense secretary in six years under president Barack Obama.

Jeb Bush starts kissing babies. The former Florida governor will give a speech in Michigan, which will be a pivotal state if he decides to run for president in 2016.

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. Companies reporting today include General Motors, Merck, 21st Century Fox, Yum! Brands, and GlaxoSmithKline. As for economic data, we have official Mexican investment figures and US jobs as measured by private payroll firm ADP.

While you were sleeping

A plane crashed in Taipei. Rescuers have recovered the flight recorders of a TransAsia turboprop plane that crash-landed into a shallow river near the Taiwanese capital, after narrowly missing a highway. The passenger plane was carrying 58 people and local media say 27 have been retrieved and 19 were killed, but the story is still developing.

Euro zone commercial activity got a bump. Markit’s composite purchasing managers’ index for the monetary union rose to 52.6 in January, from 51.4 in December. The jump was down to strong service-sector results, with Ireland’s services PMI at 62.5 and Spain’s at 56.7 (readings above 50 signal an expansion in activity).

A Saudi prince cashed out of News Corp. Kingdom Holding Company, prince Al Waleed bin Talal’s investment vehicle, reduced its stake in the media group to 1%, from 6.6%, after selling $188 million in stock. The prince still holds 6.6% of 21st Century Fox, the other half of Rupert Murdoch’s business empire.

The weak yen helped Toyota raise its full-year outlook… Currency gains on foreign sales and booming SUV deliveries allowed the world’s largest auto manufacturer to raise its net income forecast to 2.1 trillion yen ($18 billion) for the year ending March, up from a previous forecast of 2 trillion yen. Toyota shipped 1.9 million vehicles last year.

…and let Sony cut its losses. The troubled Japanese technology company cut its forecasted loss for the fiscal year to March by 26%, to 170 billion yen ($1.4 billion). But the group also announced another 1,100 job cuts (paywall) at its smartphone division.

Samsung lost its top spot in India. The South Korean firm fell behind Micromax in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, according to research firm Canalys. Samsung is also trailing Apple and Xiaomi in China, the world’s biggest market.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on why Greece will lose its fight with Europe. ”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

The government shouldn’t regulate hand-washing. A US senator says it should be left to businesses to decide.

Does Uber really reduce drunk driving? That’s what the tech firm claims, but the evidence is thin.

Testosterone is the drug of the future. It can help middle-aged men feel young again.

The new Harper Lee novel is not happy news. Its provenance is as murky as its elderly author is in poor health.

Don’t tell your children how much you make. It might encourage them to think that money is everything.

Surprising discoveries

Colorado’s pot sales may trigger a tax rebate. The state made more money from legalized marijuana than it is allowed to spend.

Mayonnaise fans are upset with Hellman’s. Many believe the company changed its recipe on the sly.

Too much jogging is bad for you. Running more than four hours is the same as not running at all.

Bureaucracy is coming to the moon. The US government is working out how to license lunar businesses.

Paganism is back. A temple dedicated to the Norse gods is being built in Iceland—the first in a millennium.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, jogging-avoidance strategies, and odes to Odin to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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