Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Germanwings crash, Google’s new CFO, Greece’s new deadline, grandmothers dancing

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What to watch for today

PetroChina’s double-digit capex cut. The state-controlled oil company publishes its full-year earnings. According to the WSJ, it’s going to trim its budget, as BP did last month. A corruption investigation into into PetroChina’s vice chairman will also likely be a topic for discussion.

Al Jazeera’s two journalists go back on trial. Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are back on the stand on charges of harming national security. Their retrial hearing had been postponed after the court found holes in the evidence against them. A third Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, was released and returned home last month.

Afghanistan’s president speaks to the US Congress… Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to give a talk at 10:45am Washington time. He’s expected to address the severity of the threat the Islamic State poses, Afghanistan’s relationships with its neighbors, and whether or not the local Taliban can be negotiated with.

…and Congress puts a check on Obama’s Iran deal. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will start considering a bill giving Congress the power to approve or reject any agreement the US reaches with Iran over its nuclear program. The Senate will vote on it on April 14. The notional deadline for a nuclear deal is the end of this month, though that’s looking unlikely.

While you were sleeping

The US slowed its troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. An estimated 9,800 soldiers won’t be coming home in the next few months as originally scheduled, but will instead stay until the end of the year. The announcement coincides with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s visit to the White House, where a request to maintain US forces was on the agenda (paywall).

A plane crash in France killed 150 people. A 24-year-old Airbus A320 traveling from Barcelona to Düsseldorf crashed in the French alps, with 144 passengers, four crew members, and two pilots on board. It is believed 67 were German nationals and 45 were Spanish. The black box holding the voice recordings from the cockpit has been found and is being examined.

Boko Haram carried out a mass kidnapping. The Islamist insurgents abducted 400-500 women and children, possibly killing 50 of them first, from the town of Damasak in northern Nigeria, officials say. Just four days ago the town was freed from the insurgents by troops from Niger and Chad, part of a regional task force created to fight Boko Haram.

Greece got a new bankruptcy date. It was supposed to happen in February. Then it got pushed back to April 8. Now, insiders say Greece will go bust on April 20 unless it obtains fresh aid. The government is raiding the coffers (paywall) to stay afloat. Markets are expecting a default, though the shifting dates also suggest Greece is keeping up the pressure for a new bailout deal.

Google poached the top woman on Wall Street. Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat will assume the same position at Google. One of the highest-ranking women on Wall Street and former co-head of tech investment banking at Morgan Stanley, Porat will take over Google’s acquisitions strategy and the task of managing its more than $60 billion in offshore cash.

HP said it’s going to put Bang & Olufsen in your ears. The Danish high-end audio hardware maker, whose stock has been sinking over the years, used to throw the Beats logo on its devices, but ever since Apple bought Beats, it’s had to look elsewhere. Starting this spring, B&O will let HP use its technology in several product lines, including tablets.

Quartz obsession interlude

Vasudevan Mukunth on the world’s largest experiment. “Before it shut down in late 2013, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) became famous for helping discover the elusive Higgs boson, a fundamental—that is, indivisible—particle which gives other fundamental particles their mass through a complicated mechanism. The find earned two of the physicists who thought up the mechanism in 1964, Peter Higgs and Francois Englert, a Nobel Prize in that year. This week, two years later, the world’s single largest science experiment will restart.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Women are being fed a fake feminism. The goal of feminism shouldn’t be simply to give women choices but to end men’s domination of the world.

It’s time for Singapore to get creative. What Lee Kuan Yew did was impressive, but the country’s economy now needs a punch in the arm.

Raise the smoking age in the US to 21. The effects of nicotine are strongest on young brains, which makes the current age limit—18—unacceptable.

Mosquitos are the deadliest animals. We should eradicate the entire species before it brings tropical diseases to Europe.

Economic growth alone won’t fix Europe. The years of malaise have done political damage that an uptick in jobs numbers won’t repair (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

There’s a sweet spot for sleep. People who get fewer than six or more than eight hours of shut-eye are likely to die younger.

It’s not just you—spring is indeed getting shorter. Due to the way the planet wobbles, researchers say spring is losing 30 seconds every year.

One of the fathers of the hydrogen bomb is spilling secrets. Kenneth W. Ford’s upcoming memoir has 5,000 words the US government wanted cut.

Forget changing colors, this frog can change textures. Researchers have discovered an Ecuadorian frog whose skin morphs from smooth to spiky in minutes for camouflage.

Grandma makes too much noise. China is regulating square dancing because its elderly fans enjoy busting moves well into the wee hours.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, square-dance moves, and shape-shifting reptiles to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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