What to watch for today
Two astronauts start NASA’s first year-long stay in space. An American and a Russian will travel to the international space station as a precursor for future Mars trips, which could take two or three years.
Italy’s Supreme Court rules on Amanda Knox. The court will decide whether to uphold Knox’s conviction for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007. If Knox’s conviction is upheld, the US and Italy could begin an extradition battle.
BlackBerry is expected to disappoint. The company’s fourth-quarter earnings are expected to show a sharp decline in revenue. The question is whether there are any signs of BlackBerry executing on its plan of shifting to a software and services company.
Congress goes on holiday. The US legislature will go into recess for two weeks, after the surprising passage of a $214 billion bipartisan medicare package in the House of Representatives to address a massive funding gap.
While you were sleeping
Japan bordered on deflation. A fall in consumer spending led to a 2% rise in Japan’s core consumer price index in February from a year earlier. But stripping away the effect of last year’s sales tax rise, there was no change in the country’s CPI. Pressure is on the central bank to increase monetary stimulus this year.
China’s industrial profits fell 4.2% in January-February. Industrial firms reported profits of 745.2 billion yuan ($120 billion) in the first two months of this year, a significant drop from the same period a year earlier. Overcapacity and low demand are forcing producers to cut prices.
Egypt said it would provide ground troops in Yemen. Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said the army would send troops to fight Houthi rebels “if necessary.” This would represent a major escalation, and the conflict in Yemen could become a proxy war between Iranian-allied forces and Iran’s rivals in the Middle East.
Meerkat raised $14 million to compete with Twitter. The live-streaming video service’s CEO Ben Rubin announced the fundraising round via a Meerkat live video. Meerkat has been in business for less than a month, and the funding comes after Twitter debuted Periscope, its own live-streaming service.
London property found new growth areas. Demand for property in London’s cheaper boroughs led to a 12.9% increase in property value in the 12 months to February, according to property market researcher Hometrack. Demand for cheaper property outweighed single-digit drops in premium central property value.
The US may allow Iran to run a limited number of centrifuges. In exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear research and development, the US is considering allowing Iran to run hundreds of centrifuges at a fortified underground bunker, which would be subject to international inspections, according to The Associated Press.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jason Karaian on the contradictory expectations of CEOs during a crisis. “The qualities we expect from corporate leaders managing in a crisis—honesty, transparency, accountability, empathy—don’t always square with other demands on them, like maintaining the confidence of investors (measured most bluntly by share price) and of employees (which often means voicing unwavering admiration for them). Carsten Spohr, the CEO of Lufthansa, is now addressing this difficult balance.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
We should care a whole lot more about dirt. Forget every other epidemic, if we don’t protect the earth’s soil, humanity will cease.
Media coverage of Africa needs to include more Africans. 60 Minutes has been a great example of how not to cover the continent.
Income inequality is good for you. It motivates creative people to strive, innovate, and compete, which eventually makes luxuries more affordable.
US executions should be more brutal. The sanitizing effect of the lethal injection has allowed a bad policy to become worse.
Silicon Valley isn’t investing in science anymore. Instead, it backs companies that can scale up and become dominant (paywall).
You can make rice even healthier. Throwing in a dash of coconut oil and letting it cool for 12 hours more than halves the calories, according to Sri Lankan researchers.
Winged drones can now withstand being beaten by a baseball bat. Scientists developed a drone designed to survive mid-air collision.
Russia wants to connect London to Alaska. Plans for a 12,400-mile super highway have a similar layout to the Trans-Siberian railway.
There is a dating site for UFO-believers. That should eliminate at least one awkward conversation on the first date.
The inventor of American cheese was Canadian. James Lewis Kraft only moved to the US as a child.
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