Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Putin-Merkel-Hollande, Twitter’s breathing room, RadioShack bankruptcy, portentious handball corruption

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What to watch for today

Putin meets Merkel and Hollande. The leaders of Russia, Germany, and France will convene in the latest diplomatic push to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as the EU considers expanding sanctions against Russia next week.

US jobs. Labor department figures are expected to show that the economy added 230,00 jobs last month, versus 252,000 in December, and that unemployment was 5.6%, a more-than-six year low. It’s worth noting that those numbers don’t account for chronic unemployment.

Petrobras chooses its new leaders. Brazil’s state-owned oil company lost its CEO and five top executives earlier this week due to a corruption scandal involving as much as $800 million in bribes and kickbacks. Today the company’s board meets to elect replacements.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. On the economic calendar: Canada’s January jobs report, Germany’s December industrial production, France’s December trade balance, and the Swiss National Bank on January’s foreign-currency reserves. Earnings: Statoil and Alcatel-Lucent.

This weekend: SpaceX tries to stick the landing. On Sunday, Elon Musk’s rocket company will attempt to deliver a climate satellite into orbit and then land the rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic. A similar attempt last month was described by Musk as “close, but no cigar.”

While you were sleeping

Twitter won a bit of breathing room. The microblogging firm’s revenues and earnings beat analyst expectations, sending shares up more than 7% in after-market trading, thanks to signs that the company has finally figured out how to make money. Monthly active users were a lower-than-expected 288 million, up 20% year-over-year, partly due to technical glitches with Apple’s Safari web browser.

RadioShack filed for bankruptcy. The US electronics retailer said it has agreed to sell up to 2,400 of its 4,100 stores to General Wireless, an affiliate of its largest shareholder; the US wireless carrier Sprint will operate up to 1,750 of those stores to boost its retail presence. RadioShack—dubbed the Starbucks of the 1980s—is still trying to find buyers for the remaining stores.

News Corp reported lackluster earnings. Growth in Rupert Murdoch’s book publishing unit was offset by falling newspaper ad revenues, leading to quarterly revenue of $2.3 billion, from $2.2 billion a year earlier. Ongoing legal fees and currency headwinds were also blamed as earnings per share fell to $0.24, from $0.31 last year.

Australia lowered its growth outlook. Its central bank reduced its GDP growth forecast for the year to June to 2.25%, from a range of 2-3% earlier. The bank also reduced its inflation outlook as it warned that unemployment is likely to rise due to low demand for commodities.

The Sony Pictures hack claimed a high-profile victim. Studio co-chair Amy Pascal is stepping down after leaked emails in December revealed racially insensitive comments she made about US president Barack Obama. That fits the recent trend among big companies of trying to end scandals by firing somebody.

Uruguay expelled an Iranian diplomat over bomb suspicions. An investigation into the partial detonation of a bomb outside Montevideo’s Israeli embassy led to the expulsion of a senior Iranian diplomat, according to Haaretz.

Quartz obsession interlude

Mike Murphy on the mobile technology driving RadioShack’s demise. “RadioShack was once the playground of the inventor, the maker and the tinkerer. In the ’70s, Steve Wozniak—Apple’s co-founder—built a device to hack long-distance phone calling out of parts he bought at RadioShack. It was where amateur electronic engineers could pick up computer chips and build their own computers. It smartly saw the mobile revolution coming, and started selling cellphones and service early.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Spotify isn’t the music industry’s main villain. That would be the record labels, who keep the bulk of streaming music payments.

The Qatar-hosted World Handball Championships matter. There were ominous signs of corruption ahead of footballs’ 2022 World Cup.

The Web is so over. All content will eventually come from communications apps, starting with Snapchat.

Long commutes are holding women back. Women find getting to and from work four times more stressful.

Bill and Melinda Gates are ignoring the causes of poverty. That means they’re largely missing the point.

Surprising discoveries

Tesla has been going Apple-picking. The electronic car firm has poached 150 key employees from Cupertino.

Shell is using a giant ship named after a notorious Nazi. The Pieter Schelte is the only ship capable of lifting an entire oil platform.

Poor kids have better eyesight. A study of 20,000 Chinese children found that middle-class kids were twice as likely to be nearsighted.

The Pope is ok with spanking. As long as it is done “with dignity”—and not in the face.

Russia wants to make censorship cool. An online competition is looking for the right superheroes for its propaganda.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dignified spankings, and Russian censorship superheros to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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