What to watch for today
Mark Zuckerberg spars with telecom companies. The Facebook CEO will take part in a panel discussion (paywall) at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona alongside several telecom executives. The company has clashed with the industry over its attempts to let users in the developing world use Facebook for free.
A new era begins in Uruguay. Tabaré Vázquez begins his first week as president after Jose Mujica stepped down on Sunday. Mujica abstained from the luxury of the presidential palace and drove around in a beat-up VW Beetle, and was known for making Uruguay the first country to legalize marijuana.
Russia and Ukraine talk gas. Leaders from Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union will discuss energy in Brussels, amid a shaky ceasefire in the east of Ukraine.
Global economic data. Look for the latest manufacturing PMI figures from the euro zone, the UK, and the US. The euro zone will also release its latest unemployment figures, with the jobless rate expected to stay above 11%.
Over the weekend
China cut interest rates again. The People’s Bank of China reduced its benchmark lending and deposit rates for the second time in less than four months, sending Asian stocks higher. Meanwhile, the HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index, which focusses on small- to medium-sized companies, rose to 50.7 in February from 49.7 in January, signaling an expansion in commercial activity.
Mr. Netanyahu came to Washington. The Israeli prime minister arrived in the US capital ahead of a controversial address to the Republican-controlled Congress on Wednesday, urging the US and other powers against making a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. US national security advisor Susan Rice called the speech ”destructive to the fabric of US-Israeli ties.”
A new chipmaking giant was born. Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconducters agreed to buy US-based Freescale for $11.8 billion, creating the world’s eighth-largest semiconductor company, which is largely focused on making chips for the auto industry.
Samsung unveiled its latest high-end smartphone. The South Korean company will offer a metal-cased Galaxy S6 and a ”three-sided” S6 Edge, which has curved glass on both sides of the phone. Early reviews suggest the curved glass is more than just a gimmick, and reviewers also praised upgrades to the devices’ cameras.
Rebekah Brooks is returning to the Murdoch fold. The former executive is likely to return to News Corp. to work on expanding the company’s digital presence, according to the New York Times (paywall). She was acquitted of charges related to a major UK phone-hacking scandal in June.
Russians mourned assassinated politician Boris Nemtsov. Thousands gathered on Saturday to pay respects to the fallen opposition leader, who was shot yesterday near the Kremlin. Nemtsov, 55, was deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin. His killing resembles other recent Russian contract hits.
Estonia voted to keep its pro-NATO government. The governing Reform Party triumphed in an election overshadowed by concerns about possible military threats from Russia. The pro-Russia Centre Party briefly led in the polls—but that lead evaporated after its leader endorsed the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Quartz obsession interlude
Kabir Chibber on the world’s craziest financial contract. “Essentially, George could invest at last week’s prices knowing what was going to happen in the future. The contract has been compared to Grays Sports Almanac, the sports bible that the villainous Biff gives to himself in 1955 to become a billionaire in Back to the Future Part II.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Austerity kills. Suicide rates among 40- to 64-year-olds are up 40% since the financial crisis.
Americans are delusional about healthcare. Most incorrectly think their insurance isn’t subsidized.
Why you should ditch Apple, Google, and Microsoft. ”Big Tech” is the antithesis of innovation and free participation.
US medical training is broken. It favors the shallow and the competitive.
Canadians are “Spock-ing” their banknotes. The Star Trek graffiti is in honor of the late Leonard Nimoy.
A counterfeit weight-loss drug also contained Prozac. Regulators said side effects included “suicidal thinking.”
Saturn’s moon Titan may harbor life—but “not as we know it.” Organisms may be able to exist without oxygen.
Hipsters are snapping up Cold War-era sidecar motorcycles. Urals are made in Siberia, but headquartered in Redmond.
Icelandic babies spend a lot of time in the freezing cold. You can see ”abandoned” prams everywhere in Reykjavik.