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Quartz Daily Brief—Nepal earthquake aftershocks, Tata’s Xiaomi investment, Capgemini’s Igate buy, Stephen Hawking on boy bands

By Richard Macauley

What to watch for today

Aftershocks and rescue efforts in Nepal. More than 3,600 people have been confirmed dead after Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed buildings and caused landslides; 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?

Ukraine and the EU try to mend their frayed relationship. A summit in Kyiv 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 its economy and political system, while Kyiv 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 he 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

Capgemini bought Igate for $4 billion. Europe’s largest technology services provider will pay $48 per share for its US rival, valuing Igate shares 4.7% higher than last week’s closing price. The purchase is seen as complementary to the French company’s European operations, and could represent a new challenge to IBM.

Deutsche Bank cut back. Germany’s biggest lender said it would reduce its ownership in its Postbank consumer banking unit and shrink its securities business to achieve cost savings of €3.5 billion ($3.8 billion) annually. The bank will also close 200 branches as it tries to reassure investors worried about rising legal costs and a poor stock performance.

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 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.

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 most accurate weapon. Bombing and shelling are far worse in terms of civilian casualties.

Starbucks proved 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

“Hurricane Isis” was dropped from the 2016 list of storm names. It was expected to cause too much fear.

China is building a great wall of trees. It’s designed to combat the desertification of the country’s northern provinces.

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.”

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.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, scary hurricane names, and alternate-universe boy bands to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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