Skip to navigationSkip to content
STAR WARS

Quartz Daily Brief—European edition—Germanwings black box, Kraft for sale, O2’s buyout, smuggled space sandwiches

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

Al Jazeera journalists go back on trial in Egypt. Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed go 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.

Afghanistan’s president speaks to the US Congress… Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to give a talk at 10:45am in Washington DC. 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 mulls a block of any Iran deal. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee could discuss 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

Search teams found the crashed Germanwings flight’s voice recorder. French air investigators are examining one of the plane’s two “black boxes” to try to determine why the Airbus A320’s pilots maintained radio silence during its rapid descent. French air traffic controllers were unable to establish contact with the plane as it made an eight-minute descent with 150 people aboard.

Kraft started $40 billion takeover talks. Brazil’s 3G Capital Partners, which bought HJ Heinz with Warren Buffett in 2013, is in advanced talks to buy the US packaged foods giant. America’s changing food tastes have dampened demand for Kraft’s processed brands, which include Cool Whip and Cheez Whiz.

Asia’s second-richest man bought Britain’s O2. Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa agreed to buy the mobile network from Spain’s Telefonica for £10.3 billion ($15.3 billion). Hutchison is expected to merge O2 with its mobile network Three, to create the UK’s biggest wireless provider.

Moody’s cut Ukraine’s credit rating. The ratings agency lowered its credit rating by one level to Ca, its second-lowest, and put the country’s credit outlook to negative, adding that a default is almost certain. The downgrade comes as Ukraine begun talks to restructure its debt, which Moody’s says will lead to “substantial losses” for private creditors.

The New York Federal Reserve established a cybersecurity division. A dedicated team will assess cybersecurity risks to banks that could result in new rules for financial institutions. Regulators warned last month of an “Armageddon-type” attack that could bring down the entire financial system.

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. Two years later, the world’s single largest science experiment is about to be restarted.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Feminism isn’t just about the right to make choices. It’s about ending patriarchy.

Bring on the 2016 US presidential election race coverage. Potential US policies are being refined already, so the media coverage is welcome.

The US should raise the smoking age to 21. Nicotine affects young brains the most, making younger age limits unacceptable.

We should eradicate mosquitoes. They are a public health danger and there is no downside to getting rid of them.

Economic growth alone won’t fix Europe. The continent has to contend with political extremism that the recession boosted (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

In 1965, a NASA astronaut smuggled a sandwich into space. It happened during a trip meant to test newly-created space food.

US authorities gave Amazon permission to test an obsolete drone. The online retailer says that’s proof regulators are moving too slowly.

Russia is developing a tank that chooses its own targets. The 25-ton Kurganets-25 is also amphibious.

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

Researchers discovered a frog whose skin can change texture. It morphs from smooth to spiky for camouflage.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Cool Whip recipes, and shape-shifting reptiles to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.