What to watch for today
Greece goes begging in Moscow. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras will visit the Kremlin and is likely to discuss the possibility of billion-euro emergency loans and energy discounts—not to mention a deal to exempt Greek strawberries and other fruit from Russia’s anti-EU sanctions.
French strikes disrupt air travel. France’s aviation authority has asked airlines to reduce short-haul flight traffic by 40% to accommodate an air-traffic control strike. Hundreds of European flights have already been canceled, but long-haul flights are expected to operate normally.
Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP. The company will stop fixing bugs and patching vulnerabilities for the antique operating system that still powers most of the world’s automatic teller machines. Security researchers fear a massive cyber attack could take place (paywall); upgrades could cost as much as $3,500 per ATM.
The Fed publishes its March meeting minutes. Investors will try to gauge how long the US central bank will keep interest rates at record lows (paywall). Warren Buffett doesn’t think rates should rise, and neither does former US treasury secretary Larry Summers.
Chanel handbag prices get shuffled. The French fashion brand is cutting prices in China while raising them in Europe to prevent gray-marketeers from taking advantage of the weak euro. The price swings, which could be as much as 21% for some products, are likely to be copied by other luxury brands.
While you were sleeping
Royal Dutch Shell made an energy mega-deal. Europe’s largest oil producer agreed to buy BG, the UK’s third-largest natural gas producer, for $70 billion—offering a 52% premium for BG shares. That deal could be the start of an oil industry consolidation wave spurred by the collapse of global oil prices.
A video caught a US police officer shooting an unarmed black man in the back. South Carolina charged police officer Michael Slager with murder after a bystander filmed him on a cameraphone shooting at Walter Scott eight times. The fatal incident follows a string of recent shootings in the United States in which police have killed unarmed black men.
Rahm Emanuel won a second term as Chicago’s mayor. The former Obama and Clinton aide handily defeated progressive challenger Jesus Garcia despite a difficult first term plagued by violent crime and a severe financial crisis.
Russia and Thailand pledged to double bilateral trade next year. Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev visited junta leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha for the first such trip in 25 years, and promised to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion. Thailand has been increasingly isolated since its military coup last year; it recently replaced martial law with sweeping unilateral powers that critics say are even worse.
German factory orders unexpectedly fell. Seasonally-adjusted orders were down 0.9% in February compared with expectations of a 1.5% increase, confounding recent economic data that showed a general improvement in business sentiment.
The US started tracking phone calls long before 9/11. The Drug Enforcement Administration logged millions of Americans’ international phone calls between 1992 and 2013, according to officials responsible for running the program. The dragnet logged every call made from the US to up to 116 countries, creating a blueprint for post-9/11 National Security Agency surveillance.
Quartz obsession interlude
Sonali Kohli grabs a crayon and a coloring book to relax. “There are entire coloring books just for grown ups, and they’re gaining popularity, with two adult coloring books currently topping Amazon’s bestseller lists … [B]y engaging multiple parts of the brain, coloring allows us to focus on the lines, movements, and colors in front of us, use our imaginations and be creative, and de-stress.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
On-demand apps are eradicating chores. That will benefit women, who spend more time on them than men.
Free-trade agreements cause obesity. Western companies have flooded developing markets with sugary drinks.
Robots need democracy. Teaching them communal norms is the best way to make robots helpful to humanity.
The US should lift its oil export ban. The best way to minimize volatility is for the US to become a major oil seller.
“No, totally” means “yes.” It suggests “a startled, joyful discovery of common ground.”
The brontosaurus is back. After years of insisting the popular dinosaur was actually an apatosaurus, paleontologists concluded that they are actually two separate species.
The NRA banned guns at its annual convention. No working firearms will be allowed this weekend for safety reasons.
A hologram of Edward Snowden appeared in a New York park. It popped up after police removed an illicit bust of the NSA leaker.
“Power poses” may not work. Assertive stances, which allegedly increase testosterone and cause behavioral changes, fell flat in a follow-up study.
Indian police are putting pepper-spray on drones. They will be used to control “an unruly mob in case of trouble.”