Quartz Daily Brief—Apple earnings, UK’s EU vote, Isreali election, panda boot camp

What to watch for today

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 and that 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.

Microsoft may join a leveraged buyout of Dell. In a new twist to the Dell saga, the Windows maker is reportedly in talks to enter the deal.

While you were sleeping

David Cameron promised an EU referendum. The British prime minister, in a long-awaited speech, promised a vote on EU membership. It could well be a bluff, aimed at taking back key powers from Brussels, and will only happen if Cameron’s Conservative party wins the next election. A recent YouGov poll showed most Britons want to stay in the EU.

Movers and shakers met up. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum began today 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. The forum’s organiser kicked off proceedings by urging Russia to be less corrupt. Quartz published and analyzed the list of attendees on Sunday.

North Korea got scrappy with the UN. After the UN security council condemned North Korea’s December rocket launch, Pyongyang vowed to boost its military and nuclear capabilities. That is a strange move for a nation that claims it wants more foreign investment and Korean unification.

Thai editor got a decade’s prison time for insulting the king. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was sentenced for running articles that criticized a fictional character the court ruled represented the revered King Bhumibol. Insulting royalty is a crime in Thailand. But Somyot may have been jailed because his magazine is devoted to Thailand’s former leader in exile, Thaksin Shinawatra. He was arrested when a strong critic of Thaksin was prime minister.

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.

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?

Syria probably has chemical weapons.

The Philippines could well be a good investment.

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

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.

Astronomers think the boundaries around black holes will soon be visible via a new telescope. And they will look a bit like multi-colored frisbees.

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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