Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Fifty Shades unleashed, Ukraine’s IMF lifeline, Microsoft’s stylus tango, drunk art

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What to watch for today

Tim Cook lectures for the White House. The CEO of Apple will be speaking at the White House cybersecurity summit hosted by Stanford University, amid tension between tech companies and the US government over law enforcement’s access to encrypted company data.

Euro zone GDP data comes out. According to economists surveyed by Bloomberg, the euro zone likely grew by 0.2% during the fourth quarter, thanks partly to cheaper oil and the European Central Bank’s stimulus plan.

Air France negotiates layoffs. Labor unions will meet with company management to discuss potential cost-cutting measures, ahead of the French airline’s quarterly earnings announcement next week.

Fifty Shades of Grey hits the silver screen. Based on the hugely popular trilogy that has sold more than 100 million copies, the Universal film combining romance and kink is expected to rake in over $60 million during the US’s four-day holiday weekend.

While you were sleeping

Expedia agreed to buy Orbitz for $1.3 billion. Less than a month after buying Travelocity, the online flight and hotel booking service Expedia is snatching up another one of its competitors. Expedia’s offer of $12 a share for Orbitz is a 24% premium over the company’s share price as of Wednesday.

The IMF gave Ukraine a $17.5 billion helping hand. This new deal replaces a separate $17 billion loan that was agreed upon in 2014, of which only $4.5 billion was delivered. The so-called Extended Fund Facility will help Ukraine stabilize itself as its economy continues to struggle. Kyiv has vowed to reduce energy subsidies, overhaul its banks, and reduce corruption in return for the funding.

Microsoft reportedly purchased a stylus company. Israeli publication Calcalist says the software giant spent at least $200 million on a company called N-trig. The company employed an N-trig stylus for its tablet-cum-laptop replacement, the Surface Pro 3, last year, though its ideal uses still aren’t clear.

Egypt released two Al Jazeera journalists on bail. After more than 400 days in detention, Al-Jazeera English journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy have been released on bail as they await retrial in Egypt. Earlier this month, Peter Greste—another Al Jazeera journalist—was released and arrived safely at home in Australia.

Ashton Carter became the new the US defense secretary. The 60-year-old will be the fourth Pentagon chief (paywall) since president Barack Obama took office six years ago. He’s replacing Chuck Hagel, who resigned in November amid major policy differences with the White House on matters including Iraq and Syria.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on why women should be running the finance world. “It’s a well-established fact that pretty much everything on earth would run better if women were in charge. That dictum would seem to extend to the financial markets. Look no further than the February edition of the prestigious American Economic Review for a quick refresher on the rafts of research that lead to such a conclusion.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Jon Stewart’s replacement should be a woman. Because women are better at comedy and it’s about time one of them took the lead.

Muslim lives don’t matter. The media’s coverage of the shootings of three US Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina reflects that most Americans don’t care.

German workers respect German companies, and vice versa. Collaboration between employees and management at German firms has undergirded the economy’s success.

India’s future is as uncertain as ever. The country’s economy is poised to outgrow China’s based on demographics and size, but achieving that goal will depend on the kind of economy (paywall) India chooses to be.

The tech industry shouldn’t abandon education. Home schooling or skipping school altogether to start a company robs young people of the personal growth that maximizes their potential.

Surprising discoveries

Liquor will buy you art in Russia. On the day before Valentine’s Day, artists in St. Petersburg will be trading their work for bottles of alcohol (link in Russian).

British military tanks have gone rogue. A British military vehicle belonging to a military driving school accidentally veered off the road and plowed into an elderly couple’s home in Germany.

Vampires are out, mystery is in. Children’s books have been dominated by blood suckers for the past few years, but British bookseller Waterstones says detectives are making a comeback.

Carbon dioxide may have helped end the last Ice Age. Scientists say that the climate-changing gas escaped from the deep ocean 16,000 years ago.

Obesity isn’t just a human affliction. A 100-year-old crocodile is dead after his fans kept lavishing him with chickens and goats.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stray armored vehicles, and rejected vampire reads to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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