What to watch for today
Michelle Obama visits Japan… The US first lady meets with prime minister Shinzo Abe and his wife. The trio will likely announce new partnerships and a global education plan for girls. Growing the female workforce is one of Abe’s policy priorities (paywall).
… as does a Chinese delegation. The two nations will hold their first set of security talks in nearly half a decade (paywall) in Tokyo. Topics on the table will likely include how to deal with each others’ ships and planes getting a bit too close to each other, and territorial disputes over islands.
More sanctions on Russia? Members of the European Union are holding a summit today and tomorrow and might decide to tighten the squeeze on Moscow if rebels in Ukraine’s east keep violating the ceasefire agreed five weeks ago.
Lufthansa pilots strike again. Unlike yesterday’s strike—which affected an estimated 80,000 passengers scheduled for short- and medium-haul flights—today’s will affect long-haul flights. Pilots want to keep the right to retire 10 years early on 60% of salary; the airline wants to raise the minimum age.
Elon Musk performs a magic trick. With a simple software update, the founder and head of electric car maker Tesla says that he’ll be able to eliminate “range anxiety”—the fear that your battery will die before you reach your destination.
While you were sleeping
A deadly attack killed tourists in Tunis. Varying reports put the death toll at the Bardo Museum in the Tunisian capital at up to 22 people, all but two of them foreigners. Two of the gunmen were also killed, but the authorities are searching for three more. Jihadists have killed dozens of people in Tunisia in recent years, most of them police and soldiers.
GM is shuttering its Russian factory. The American automaker decided it can’t make a profit from its St Petersburg plant amid sanctions and a Russian economic downturn. It will shut the plant this year, losing 1,000 jobs and taking a $600 million hit to first-quarter earnings. It will also end its contract to make Chevrolets with Russian car-maker GAZ.
The Fed stopped practicing “patience.” In its latest policy statement the US central bank no longer says it will be “patient” about raising interest rates, signaling that a rate rise is edging closer. But “just because we dropped ‘patient’ doesn’t mean we will be impatient,” Fed chair Janet Yellen noted. Stock and bond markets really liked the news.
Billionaires took on Big Tobacco. The foundations of Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg announced a $4 million fund to help countries fight lawsuits by tobacco firms against tobacco control regulations, such as advertising bans or mandatory health warnings. The fund hopes to rope in other donors.
Germany banned Uber for a second time. A September injunction against its UberPop service—which connects riders with unlicensed drivers—was overturned (paywall), but now a court in Frankfurt has ruled that every single violation will cost Uber €250,000 ($265,000). Earlier this week, Uber’s offices were raided in France and South Korea.
A new milestone for streaming music. Sales on streaming services such as Spotify and Rhapsody last year totaled $1.87 billion (paywall), or 27% of all music industry revenues in the US, overtaking CDs. Sales of both CDs and, more recently, digital downloads have been declining.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on China’s twisted road ahead. “China’s leaders face a challenge: they must allow economic growth to slow steadily enough that they don’t trigger a financial shock. Yet the best bet for achieving this feat—i.e. bank lending—also happens to be their biggest threat. At 125% of GDP, China’s corporate debt is perilously huge.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Don’t celebrate Muslims for opposing terrorism. Pointing out “good” Muslims only further propagates the prejudice that the others are extremists.
San Francisco now has the bus system it deserves. Spoiled startup kids willing to pay $6 a ride can enjoy luxury public transport.
Starbucks needs to stop exploiting its employees. #RaceTogether is clearly a marketing stunt—the company should instead raise its wages.
India’s banks may be its biggest problem. Selling off government stakes in them is the only way to achieve the goal of double-digit economic growth.
Israel just spat in its Arab citizens’ faces. It elected a prime minister whose message was that Arab Israelis—20% of the population—are the national enemy.
Invest in your child’s future: breastfeed. A three-decade study involving almost 6,000 babies found that the longer a child is breastfed, the more he or she will achieve in life.
Some people will do anything to watch a soccer game. Instead of buying tickets, one man simply decided to fly a drone into stadiums.
Buildings of the future won’t cast shadows. Using the latest in architecture design software, mirrors placed in strategic locations won’t block your sun.
Having fat kids may become a crime. Puerto Rico has proposed a law classifying parents with obese children as “child abusers.”
Listen to your government. Serbian officials have given their countrymen outstanding advice: Don’t throw your spare grenades into the garbage.