Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa—Nepal earthquake aftershocks, Tata’s Xiaomi investment, EU bypasses Varoufakis, Stephen Hawking’s boy band

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What to watch for today

Aftershocks and rescue efforts in Nepal. More than 2,500 people were killed by collapsed buildings and landslides in Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and strong aftershocks have hampered the recovery. Hundreds of climbers are stranded on Mount Everest—including many unreachable by helicopter—and more than a dozen climbers have died. Here’s a list of ways to help.

An Apple profit jump on strong iPhone sales in China. Among the questions facing the US tech company when it reports quarterly earnings: When are more share buybacks coming? How much did bigger-screen iPhones boost China sales? And will iPad sales ever bottom out?

The Ukraine and EU try to mend their frayed relationship. A summit in Kiev is the first formal meeting since the crisis with Russia began. The EU is concerned that Ukraine is not moving quickly enough to open up economy and political system, while Kiev is frustrated by EU divisions over Russian sanctions.

Abe in America. Japan’s prime minister visits Washington as the US and Japan prepare to sign an expanded defense accord and finalize a major trade pact. On Wednesday, he will be the first Japanese leader since World War II to address a joint session of congress—and critics are alert for any sign might downplay Japanese wartime atrocities.

Executives and politicians headline “Davos with palm trees.” Sessions at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg interviewing three former US treasury secretaries.

Over the weekend

Ratan Tata invested in Xiaomi. The chairman emeritus of Indian’s Tata conglomerate became an advisor to the Chinese smartphone manufacturer after investing an undisclosed sum. Tata’s involvement may help Xiaomi to navigate India’s business and political landscape as it tries to expand in its largest market outside of China.

DBS beat expectations. Southeast Asia’s largest lender reported a record first-quarter net income of S$1.3 billion ($953 million), 3% higher than a year earlier and far higher than expectations. Higher interest rates on loans offset a general slowdown in lending, and the sell-off of a Hong Kong property investment added S$136 million in revenue.

Volkswagen’s chairman stepped down. Ferdinand Piech, the chairman of the automaker’s supervisory board, resigned suddenly after losing out in a power struggle with CEO Martin Winterkorn. Piech aired his criticism of Winterkorn publicly several weeks ago, creating a leadership crisis  at the top.

Nigeria and South Africa engaged in a diplomatic row. Nigeria recalled its ambassador following attacks on foreigners in South Africa that have resulted in at least seven deaths. South Africa retorted that it hasn’t blamed Nigeria for the deaths of South African citizens at the hands of Boko Haram.

Europe tried to bypass Greece’s finance minister. EU officials called Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras from Riga, after their meeting with finance minister Yanis Varoufakis became unproductive, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Tsipras’ government, which is seeking €1 billion ($1.1 billion) to pay pensions this week, has signaled that Varoufakis could be sidelined.

The Lehman Brothers of for-profit universities went under. Corinthian Colleges, which is under criminal investigation for allegedly falsifying grades, attendance and job-placement rates, is abruptly closing its remaining 28 campuses. The move leaves an estimated 16,000 indebted US students in the lurch.

Quartz obsession interlude

Marc Bain on how history and science support the fashion industry’s recent embrace of gender-neutral clothes. “The rules that govern what men and women should wear are actually fairly arbitrary. We know that because they keep changing. In fact, men and women in Europe and other cultures wore more or less the same garments for centuries.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Globalization is unraveling. Overseas profit margins are shrinking, and the economic benefits are looking flimsy.

Drones are the safest form of war in history. Bombing and shelling are far worse in terms of civilian casualties.

Starbucks is proof that Obamacare worked. The coffee chain once drew workers with great healthcare, but now offers tuition subsidies instead.

Cirque du Soleil has no chance in China. The group’s acrobatics are nothing the Chinese haven’t been doing for centuries.

Weird workers are an asset. Fostering quirkiness among staff increases creativity and collegiality.

Surprising discoveries

Quicksilver makes a ”true wetsuit” for executive surfers. The pants, jacket, and tie are made of neoprene and another water-friendly fabric.

Stephen Hawking weighed in on a boy-band defection. In a parallel universe, the physicist said, “Zayn is still in One Direction.”

Lenin’s embalmed body is improving with age. Scientists are slowing replacing his skin and flesh with plastics and other materials.

There’s a new Rubik’s Cube world record. Teenager Collin Burns solved the puzzle in 5.25 seconds—though a Lego robot is even faster.

The NSA made a coloring book for kids. Cryptokids includes characters such as Crypto Cat and Decipher Dog.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, classified coloring books, and alternate-universe boy bands to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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