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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Israeli elections, missing hostages, gigantic quasar belt

By Steve LeVine
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

David Cameron speaks his mind on the EU. The British prime minister, in a long-awaited speech, will outline how, if at all, the UK should reshape its relationship with the European Union. Depending on what Cameron says, the EU could be roiled, and his own political future shaken up.

Jordanians elect a parliament. King Abdullah II wants the population to embrace his go-slow approach to political reform, but polls show that voter turnout may be light.

Apple reports quarterly earnings. The release, after the close of trading in the US, will be highly anticipated following reports that cast some doubt on the strength of iPhone 5 sales. Tech companies like Google and IBM—both of which reported while you were sleeping—have had a good earnings season so far.

The second Obama term starts with a bang. With Barack Obama having been inaugurated on the 21st, Republicans will vote to allow government spending to go on for another three or four months, and Obama will announce gun-control legislation. Both moves are bound to upset the other side: Obama would like to remove the spending ceiling entirely, and most Republicans oppose major changes in gun laws.

Movers and shakers start meeting. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum begins Jan. 23 in Davos, Switzerland. Even though the real meat of the meeting happens in private meetings on the sidelines, a lot of the public events are videotaped and tweeted. Quartz published and analyzed the list of attendees on Sunday.

While you were sleeping

Binyamin Netanyahu is probably Israel’s next prime minister, but who’ll be at his side? The Israeli prime minister’s Likud-Beiteinu party appears to have won about 31 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, 11 fewer than it currently holds. In a suprisingly strong second place is Yair Lapid’s center-left “Yesh Atid” party, which with 18 or 19 seats may be asked to join the governing coalition.

Microsoft may join a leveraged buyout of Dell. In a new twist to the Dell saga, the Windows maker was said to be in talks to contribute about $2 billion to the deal.

Algeria continues to search for five missing Norwegians. The five oil workers from Norway are the last unaccounted-for hostages in a militant attack on a natural gas plant in the Sahara Desert. Many of the hostages ran into the desert, so the search includes the area around the facility.

The US started to ferry French troops. After a week of hesitation, the Obama Administration has dispatched C-130s to help transport French troops fighting in Mali. The French are working to stop an uprising that threatens chaos in the northwest African nation.

Prosecutors want to extend a 50-year sentence against Sierra Leone’s Charles Taylor. They are seeking a sentence of 80 years against the former Sierra Leone president for war crimes. The country is a new object of attention by major oil companies.

Chávez is undergoing physiotherapy. Six weeks after his fourth cancer operation, and after speculation that he was on his deathbed, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is undergoing physiotherapy in Havana, according to Bolivian president Evo Morales.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zach Seward on how more New Yorkers will fit into a small space called the island of Manhattan: “New York City today announced the winner of its competition to design micro-apartments, between 250 and 370 square feet, intended to address a shortage of housing stock for single New Yorkers. The winning design, by three architecture firms, will become a 55-unit building in Manhattan, with each apartment constructed beforehand.”

Matters of debate

What happened in the year 774? Did Earth come in contact with a supernova, or was there simply a short burst of gamma rays?

Are men more likely than women to commit scientific fraud? A new study says yes.

Libya seems messy, but so did Eastern Europe two decades ago.

Are Europe’s airports up to measure when it comes to real stress? In the case of the UK, the answer may be no.

Should it be a crime to work in the US? Or is this legal overreach?

Surprising discoveries

The largest structure in the universe to date. Astronomers found a grouping of quasars so gigantic that light would take 4 billion years to travel from end to end.

Just because you are weightless, you can still bump into stuff. So says clumsy Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. 

What goes on in quantum mechanics? A poll of physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers finds that, nine decades after the theory was postulated, scientists are still at odds about what is going on at the most fundamental level of the universe.

Pandas have a hard time surviving, so scientists have launched a panda boot camp.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and plans for helping pandas to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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