Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—SpaceX tries again, China fines Qualcomm, US oil strike, Google’s kickable robot

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What to watch for today

A popularity test for Narendra Modi. The Indian prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party is predicted to lose some seats in a state assembly election for Delhi.

An attempt to end a US oil refinery strike. The United Steelworkers union resumes talks with oil companies over a contract for an estimated 30,000 oil workers. About 5,000 workers in six states are currently on strike.

Take two for the DSCOVR satellite. SpaceX will try once again to send the US Deep Space Climate Observatory into orbit one million miles (1.6 million km) from Earth, after a radar problem delayed the original launch. Elon Musk’s rocket company will then try to land its reusable rocket on a ocean-going drone ship.

The Ubuntu phone finally ships. The UK company Canonical hopes to emulate Xiaomi’s flash sale tactics with the launch of a €169 ($192) smartphone with a mobile operating system that is based on a widely-used version of Linux.

The numbers. On the economic calendar: France, Italy, and the UK report industrial production data, and the US reports wholesale inventories. Company earnings include América Móvil, Coca-Cola, SoftBank, and UBS.

While you were sleeping

China fined Qualcomm $975 million. The US chipmaker will pay the largest fine in Chinese corporate history after being found guilty of antitrust violations. It is also required to lower royalty rates on its patents, which could help China’s smartphone makers.

China edged nearer to deflation. Consumer prices rose just 0.8% in January from a year earlier, lower than an expected 1% rise and the slowest increase since 2009. Overcapacity pushed producer prices down 4.3% in the month, marking the 35th consecutive monthly fall in prices, as analysts suggested the central bank could cut interest rates sometime this month.

DBS missed its targets. Singapore’s biggest bank by assets posted fourth-quarter net income of S$838 million ($619 million), down 14% from a year earlier and lower than the S$1 billion expected. DBS blamed a sharp rise in the cost of bad loans, particularly in China.

UK retail sales grew in January. The British Retail Consortium said shoppers spent 1.6% more in January versus a year ago, following a 1% annual rise in December. Consumer sentiment is likely to be one driving force behind the UK general election in May.

Twitter published its list of snooping governments. The company’s semi-annual transparency report revealed that governments made 40% more requests for users information in 2014, and 84% more requests to delete tweets. The most censorious countries were Turkey (477 deletion requests), Russia (91), and Germany (43).

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips tackles the uncomfortable issue of government debt. “Britain essentially defaulted by going off the gold standard in 1931. Currency devaluation was the preferred mode of default for the French. And while it’s often said that the US has never defaulted on its obligations, that’s not true either. The fact is, governments never really pay back all the money they borrow, at least not in real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) terms.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

McDonalds deserves a break today. Its management is dealing rather well with some serious problems.

Realtors should have to follow money-laundering laws. A surge in cash transactions in the US is raising red flags.

Five-day work weeks are old hat. Three-day weekends make employees happier and companies more efficient.

Addressing climate change comes with a cost. Refusing to accept that fact will be even costlier.

Surprising discoveries

Is there a terrorist in your family? The US has a secret questionnaire to determine the answer.

Airbnb is making New York hotel rooms cheaper. The start-up has a 40% market share in some neighborhoods.

Japan is home to militant anti-Valentines Day Marxists. They believe that attractiveness is a class issue.

Being kinky is good for you and your relationship. Couples who are into domination are less stressed out.

Google created a kickable robotic dog. Stability aside, that seems unwise.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, kinky stress relief, and robot dog revenge scenarios, to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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