Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US net neutrality, German’s Greece vote, Fitbit M&A activity, dress color controversy

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What to watch for today

Narendra Modi discusses Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian prime minister will meet the future chief minister of the northern state to formally agree on an alliance between their respective political parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Germany votes on the Greek debt deal. Lawmakers are expected to approve a four-month extension of Greece’s bailout plan, though at least two dozen members of the Bundestag are expected to abstain or vote against the deal.

The UN holds talks in Damascus. Special envoy Staffan de Mistura is expected to meet with Syrian officials to discuss the possibility of a humanitarian ceasefire in Aleppo. The Syrian government would suspend air bombings and rebels would be asked to suspend rocket and mortar fire for six weeks.

US GDP is revised down. Analysts expect that the US economy grew by an annualized 2% in the fourth quarter last year, below the 2.6% initially estimated. But core consumer spending is likely to remain unchanged.

While you were sleeping

The US enacted net neutrality rules. The Federal Communications Commission voted 3 to 2 along party lines to mandate equal treatment of data by US broadband providers. Open internet advocates say the long-awaited decision will protect online innovation and free speech, but opponents are likely to challenge the decision in court.

Japanese inflation missed the mark. Consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 2.2% in January from a year earlier, below an expected 2.3% increase. Stripping out the effects of last year’s tax rise, prices rose just 0.2%, which could signal the need for further government stimulus measures this year.

Fitbit stepped up its M&A activity. The activity tracker is considering a $25 million to $40 million purchase of FitStar, which makes apps that encourage users to become more active, according to TechCrunch.

Coca-Cola tapped the euro bond market for $9.5 billion. The drinks behemoth completed the largest euro-bond sale ever by a US company, as borrowing costs in Europe, and the cost of swapping euros to dollars, remain low. Investors in dollar bonds are currently seeking a 3% return, while euro-bond investors demand just 0.9%.

JC Penney posted mixed results. The US department store chain posted a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $59 million, compared with a $35 million profit a year earlier, due to higher expenditures on store expansions and holiday discounts. But same-store sales beat expectations by rising 4.4%, offering hope for the once-stodgy brand as it attempts a turnaround (paywall).

Argentina’s president is off the hook. An Argentine judge threw out a case filed by state prosecutors accusing Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of conspiring to cover up Iran’s alleged involvement in a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people. The case was originally brought by a prosecutor who turned up dead under suspicious circumstances last month.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenni Avins on the historic Supreme Court case about an employer’s rejection of a job applicant wearing a hijab. In some ways, it seems that where Abercrombie & Fitch went wrong was in attempting to sidestep a potentially awkward conversation—by denying Elauf the job. The retailer’s lawyer, Shay Dvoretzky, said that asking Elauf about her headscarf would  be “asking employers to treat applicants differently based on stereotypes or assumption about whether something is likely a religious practice.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

No one produces entertaining satire like the British. Americans, meanwhile, take themselves too seriously.

Solitary confinement is torture. Take it from someone who’s been there.

A quick chat is better than any cover letter. Find a way to get on the phone or meet face-to-face with hiring managers.

Fast-growing tech companies shouldn’t delay their IPOs. Staying private only gets more constraining as time goes on.

What color is this dress? The internet’s spasm of disagreement is a lesson in the subjective way we see color. (PS: It is almost certainly blue.)

Surprising discoveries

President Obama wrote a thank-you to Redditors for supporting net neutrality. The users of /r/penmanshipporn would approve.

Internet slang is being translated for the deaf. Here’s how to say “emoji” with your hands.

Snapchat has a new smut problem. The messaging app’s new payment system allow strippers to charge for virtual lap dances (paywall).

Teslas have a James Bond easter egg. Type in “007” and they will display the Lotus Esprit submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dress color theories, and Obama handwriting samples to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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