What to watch for today
The FCC votes on net neutrality regulations. The US telecoms regulator has been considering new rules for an open internet since its old ones were voided in court last year. Consumer advocates (and Democrats) want the internet reclassified as a public utility, but many private companies (and Republicans) want to keep it lightly regulated. The odds appear to be in favor of the former camp.
The one oil company that’s still doing nicely these days. Analysts expect Argentina’s YPF to announce an almost 100% increase in fourth-quarter profit, thanks partly to the fact that the government sets its oil price. In the third quarter its earnings more than doubled year-on-year (paywall).
US clothing retailers report earnings. Gap, J.C. Penney, and Kohl’s are expected to reveal solid sales growth for the end of 2014. Sears will likely post a decline, for the 11th quarter in a row.
While you were sleeping
Apple got hit by patent trolls. A US federal jury imposed damages of $533 million on Apple for using patents owned by Smartflash—a company in a small Texas town that makes no products and is also suing Samsung, Google, and Amazon. Apple accused Smartflash of “exploiting our patent system” and vowed to appeal.
Brazil was buffeted by the Petrobras downgrade. Markets and the Brazilian real fell in the wake of Moody’s decision on Tuesday to give the corruption-ridden national oil company a ”junk” credit rating. If the government has to shore up Petrobras’s finances, its own credit rating, already perilously close to junk status, is at risk too.
South Africa tightened its belt. In the annual budget, the government raised the income tax for the first time in 20 years, cut spending, and announced a bailout for Eskom, the dominant power utility. Eskom’s inability to keep up with demand has forced the government to cut the next two years’ economic growth forecasts.
The White House went negative on Netanyahu. Several senior US officials attacked Binyamin Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress next week, after he had said he won’t meet Democratic senators on his visit. The Israeli leader has aligned himself firmly with Republicans in the run-up to a March election, sending diplomatic relations to a historic low.
The US charged three men with supporting ISIL. Two of the men were allegedly planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group. The third is accused of helping fund one of them.
France arrested three journalists for flying a drone. No word on whether the journalists, who work for Al-Jazeera and are not French citizens, have anything to do with several other unexplained sightings of illegal drones around sensitive locations, which have the cops baffled.
Quartz obsession interlude
Manu Balachandran on the lawyer challenging India’s anti-gay law by suing a sex-toy company. ”‘I am not against homosexuality,’ Joshi told Quartz. ‘There is a lot of confusion. Companies are selling products which are used for same sex activity, but at the same time, Indian government says such acts are illegal.'” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The next London bridge will be an embarrassment. The design proposals for a pedestrian crossing between Nine Elms and Pimlico are ostentatious and fantastical.
Russia’s decision to pull out of the International Space Station is not a setback. It’s staying in far longer than originally planned.
Americans are done with junk food. Research on the ill-effects of processed foods has turned the public against the industry’s largest companies.
Fifty Shades of Grey is about capitalistic inequality. The dominant-submissive relationship portrayed in the film is an “unwitting parable of the global economy.”
Don’t blame terrorism on a lack of tourism. US travel warnings to stay away from Kenya may exacerbate the country’s poverty, but that’s not the main thing causing terrorism.
Print catalogs are coming back. Changes in shopping habits have made the catalog more valuable as a marketing tool; even digital-first retailers have started sending them out.
Money management skills are partly genetic. Research suggests that 33% of the variation in how much people save is down to their DNA.
Indonesian miners make $11 a day harvesting sulfur from volcanoes. The photos of them working inside the crater are scary to behold.
Certain colors are more likely to go viral. Images with lots of red, purple or pink got shared more widely on Pinterest.
A mouth-watering complete guide to Chinese dumplings. Or, at least, to 36 kinds of them.