Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Ukraine ceasefire 2.0, Sweden goes negative, “nut rage” verdict, psychedelic dinosaurs

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What to watch for today

New York Fashion Week begins. Designers are showing their collections for the Fall/Winter 2015 season, kicking off a month of Fashion Weeks in London, Milan, and Paris (and beyond). Kanye West will introduce his new Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost sneakers on a worldwide livestream.

US retail sales. American shoppers spent 0.9% less in December than they did a year earlier, and the January data is likely to show another decline. Much of the drop will just reflect a drop in gas prices, so a negative headline figure could hide growing spending elsewhere.

Big food earnings. Cereal brand Kellogg is expected to report strong fourth-quarter earnings, as lower US consumption is offset by international expansion. Kraft Foods is also expected to report encouraging results as investors look forward to hearing from new CEO John Cahill.

EU leaders have a lot to talk about. The impasse over Greek restructuring, a tentative ceasefire in Ukraine, and tougher anti-terrorism measures will be on the agenda when European leaders meet in Brussels. It will also mark the first time that German chancellor Angela Merkel meets her Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras.

More earnings. CBS and Groupon also report results.

While you were sleeping

A ceasefire, of sorts, for eastern Ukraine. Marathon talks between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany concluded with a tentative truce that will begin on Feb. 15. A previous ceasefire signed in September was mostly ignored, and all parties to the talks—which excluded the pro-Russian separatists fighting Kyiv’s forces—stressed that disagreements remain.

Sweden went negative. The central bank lowered its benchmark rate to -0.1%, from 0%, and will buy 10 billion kroner ($1.2 billion) worth of government bonds in an attempt to nip deflation in the bud. The Riksbank vowed to keep the rate at -0.1% until inflation nears 2%.

An ex-Korea Air executive was jailed over “nut rage.” A South Korean court sentenced Cho Hyun-ah to a year in prison after finding her guilty of obstructing aviation safety. In December Cho, the daughter of Korea Air’s chairman, ordered a taxiing plane back to its gate after a steward served her macadamia nuts improperly.

SpaceX launched a satellite, but scrubbed its rocket landing. Elon Musk’s company successfully deployed the DSCOVR space weather satellite after several delays, but had to cancel an attempt to land the rocket on a drone ship due to high seas.

Baidu paid for mobile. Fourth-quarter net income at China’s dominant search company was 3.2 billion yuan ($517 million), up 16% from a year ago but below expectations. Baidu has ramped up spending to focus on mobile but faces lower profitability from mobile search than from desktop users.

Silicon Valley parents are not vaccinating their children. Six of the 12 daycare facilities affiliated with major tech companies have measles vaccination rates too low to prevent a major outbreak, according to a Wired investigation. The kid-centric filmmaker Pixar has a vaccination rate of less than 50%.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips sets the record straight on India’s economy. “News that India’s GDP growth rate may be on track to overtake China’s has prompted a fair number of subcontinental victory laps. Color us skeptical. India’s supercharged growth rate is the product of a fairly radical overhaul of the country’s GDP statistics.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Jon Stewart’s infuriating flaw was his greatest strength. The anchor’s self-righteousness was the source of his power.

China’s demand-driven economy is doomed. Its middle class is getting squeezed.

Nigeria’s election should not be delayed. The proposed six-week postponement will only cause civil strife.

Angela Merkel is the leader of the free world. She’s the real champion of Western ideals (paywall).

Fax machines will never die. A mixture of security concerns and technological inertia will ensure their survival.

Surprising discoveries

United mistakenly sold thousands of first-class tickets for as little as $44. And then abruptly cancelled them. 

Narendra Modi has been elevated to ”god status.” India’s prime minister is not pleased about the promotion.

Dinosaurs may have been high on LSD, judging by a fossilized version of the fungus that contains the hallucinogen.

Bull semen is a lucrative business. The owner of a prize bull in India makes approximately $3,000 per deposit.

Bees like cities as much as the countryside. In the UK, bee species are even more diverse in urban areas.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, first-class United tickets, and fossilized LSD to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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