Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Gulf states bomb Yemen, Germanwings pilot absent, Britain debates, baguettes in Pyongyang

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What to watch for today

Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear deal grind on. Talks are being held between Iran and six world powers, in the hope that an agreement can be reached by the end of this month. Meanwhile, the US Congress wants to have a say in any deal before it’s made.

The board of Petrobras meets. Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, dogged by an ongoing corruption scandal, had previously delayed the meeting because it was scrambling to prepare its 2014 full-year financial results and pick new members.

Britain’s prime minister takes on his rivals. The Conservative Party’s David Cameron and the leaders of six other parties will debate each other for the first time ahead of the May 7 general election. Organizing this debate took months, mostly because no one could agree on the timing and the format—Cameron says the 2010 TV debate “sucked the life” out of his campaign.

US economic data. Jobless claims are expected to hold at their recent low, while Markit’s purchasing managers’ index for the services sector is expected to stay high, after it jumped to 57.0 in February. Any number above 50.0 indicates an expansion in commercial activity.

While you were sleeping

A pilot on Germanwings flight 9525 was reportedly locked out of the cockpit. An official investigating this week’s fatal crash told The New York Times that the flight’s audio recorder indicates that one pilot was locked out, and tried to break the door down. Airbus, like other plane manufacturers, made cockpits harder to enter after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched airstrikes in Yemen. The Saudi ambassador to the US said 10 countries have launched military operations against Houthi Shia rebels to “defend the legitimate government” of president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. US president Barack Obama said the US will provide ”logistical and intelligence support.” Houthi rebels have already begun retaliating (paywall).

US forces bombed Tikrit. The US provided air strikes to support what was originally meant to be a short mission to remove Islamic State militants from the Iraqi city. The original offensive was Iranian-led, meaning the two countries are indirectly collaborating, despite a long history of animosity between them.

Adidas promised major growth. The sportswear group predicted an average of 15% annual growth in net income through 2020, and said it would pay out 30-50% of its profits in dividends, up from 20-40% previously. The brand has been lagging financially behind Nike, its biggest rival.

Etihad supported an Aer Lingus sale. The Middle Eastern airline said it would sell its stake in the Irish airline, if the Irish government approved the sale to IAG, the parent company of British Airways. Etihad has nearly an 8% stake in Aer Lingus; IAG is trying to buy the carrier for €1.34 billion ($1.5 billion).

Toyota unveiled a new business model. The Japanese auto maker will reduce development costs by 20% in the next five years, and will design more new cars using a greater share of common components. The shift, dubbed Toyota New Global Architecture, follows a similar move by Volkswagen in 2012.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jack Aldwinckle on the search for a superbean to feed the world. “Four hundred million people in the developing world rely on beans for food… Rwandans, for instance, each consume an average of 60 kg (132 lb) of the legume each year, a key source of their protein. But that security is under threat. CIAT’s scientists warn that rising temperatures are likely to disrupt production in African countries such as Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the DRC. Across the Atlantic, Nicaragua, Haiti, Brazil and Honduras are also likely to be affected.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

America needs to send soldiers into Tikrit. American boots on the ground in Iraq are the only way to destroy ISIL there.

Iran wants to build a regional empire. And it has the means to do so.

Globalization destroyed the middle class in the US. But now that wages are rising in China and India, the US is once again an attractive investment option.

Ukraine could go the way of Crimea. Thugs are going to take over, and ruin the country, unless the West does something (paywall).

Eating meat doesn’t have to destroy the environment. Animals can be raised in such a way that they won’t increase the effects of climate change.

Surprising discoveries

Waiting for your instant ramen to cook is no longer a lonely experience. You can now go on a virtual date instead of just staring into the depths of that cup.

A woman is suing New York police for institutionalizing her. She was locked up for saying Barack Obama follows her on Twitter, even though he does.

Rich North Koreans love baguettes. Well-to-do residents of the country’s capital are importing fancy bread.

Berlin is hiring a brothel tester. A social network dedicated to the sex industry is looking for someone to rate the city’s legal brothels for service, cleanliness, and compliance with safe sex practices.

Nevada wants to let you get your dog high. The US state is about to pass a bill allowing pet owners to give sick pets a dose of marijuana.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dazed and confused pooches, and North Korean baguettes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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