What to watch for today
Lee Kuan Yew’s health. The 91-year-old father of modern Singapore remains critically ill in the hospital.
Japan and China talk security. The two nations will hold their first set of security talks in nearly five years (paywall) in Tokyo. Topics on the table could include each others’ ships and planes getting a bit too close, and territorial disputes over islands.
More sanctions on Russia? Members of the European Union begin a two-day summit that could tighten the economic squeeze on Moscow, if rebels in Ukraine’s east keep violating the current ceasefire agreement.
Lufthansa pilots strike again. Yesterday’s strike 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 their salary; the airline wants to raise the minimum retirement age.
While you were sleeping
Sharp eyed 6,000 jobs cuts. The loss-making Japanese electronics manufacturer will cut more than 10% of its workforce and spend 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion) restructuring the company, according to Reuters. Weak sales in China and stiff competition led Sharp to forecast a 30 billion yen loss for the fiscal year ending March, down from a forecasted 30 billion yen profit.
Mixed news for New Zealand’s economy. Fourth-quarter GDP rose 3.5% compared with the year earlier, beating expectations. But adjusted quarter-on-quarter growth was just 0.8%, the slowest all year, leading some to suggest a slowdown is imminent (paywall).
The Fed edged closer to an interest rate hike. In its latest policy statement, the US central bank said it will no longer be “patient” about raising interest rates, signaling that an increase is pending. Stock and bond markets really liked the news.
Billionaires took on Big Tobacco. Two charitable foundations established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $4 million fund to help poor governments regulate their tobacco industries. It will fund legal defense against tobacco companies which challenge new regulation.
Germany got tough on Uber. A court in Frankfurt has ruled that the ride-hailing service will be fined €250,000 ($265,000) each time it violates an existing ban on the company’s UberPOP service. Earlier this week, Uber’s offices were raided in France and South Korea.
Target agreed to pay for a data breach. The US retailer will pay $10 million to settle a class action lawsuit over a 2013 hack involving 40 million customer cards. Target also said it would appoint a chief information security officer; the proposal still requires federal court approval.
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
Netanyahu will not be elected again. The Israeli prime minister’s election campaign was a disaster and Israelis are in need of a fresh face.
Don’t applaud 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 a stupid stunt—the company should raise wages instead.
India’s banks are its biggest problem. Selling off government stakes in them is the only way to achieve double-digit economic growth.
New York City has more Uber cars than yellow cabs. That’s 14,088 Ubers compared to 13,587 traditional cabs.
Breastfed children earn more as adults. 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.
A British man used his drone to watch a soccer game. He was arrested for filming the game and contravening drone laws.
An architecture firm is designing a shadowless building. It will be made of two towers that reflect light off each other.
Puerto Rico may legislate against parents of fat children. It has proposed a law that would label them ”child abusers.”