Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Britain’s EU vote, Apple earnings, Chinese tree-huggers, quasars

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 the UK should reshape its relationship with the European Union. He is expected to promise a referendum on EU membership. That could well be a bluff, aimed at taking back key powers from Brussels.

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. Apple is also being outsold in China by a company less than 1% of its size, which makes much cheaper smartphones.

…So does McDonalds, which will reveal whether its increased localization abroad and its US dollar menu are bringing home the bacon… sorry, the burger.

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

A rather convenient election for Binyamin Netanyahu? The Israeli prime minister’s Likud-Beiteinu party appears to have taken a beating in the polls, winning 11 fewer seats in the Knesset than it currently holds. But the surprisingly strong showing for the center-left Yesh Atid party could make it an ideal coalition partner for Netanyahu.

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.

A good earnings season for tech firms. Well, for Google and IBM, anyway, both of which beat analysts’ expectations in their fourth-quarter results. Let’s see what Apple (above) brings.

The US started to ferry French troops to Mali. 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 lock up Charles Taylor for longer. They are seeking a sentence of 80 years for the former president of Sierra Leone for war crimes, instead of the 50 he was given last year. 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 Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on how Google might be working on a really good new type of mobile phone. “Google is working on—or at least thinking about—phones with extra long battery life, some kind of novel (perhaps wireless) recharging capability, and a case that won’t break when the phone is dropped. ”

Matters of debate

Are the Chinese going to get fed up with consumerism? The air pollution crisis is causing a nascent strain of tree-hugging.

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

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

The Philippines could well be a good investment.

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. It’s a grouping of quasars so gigantic that light would take 4 billion years to travel from end to end.

Men are more likely than women to commit scientific fraud, according to a, um, scientific study.

Even when you are weightless, you can still bump into stuff.

What goes on in quantum mechanics? Nine decades after the theory was postulated, scientists are still at odds about what it actually means for the fundamental nature of reality.

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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