Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—BoJ, Italy elections, weeping bulls

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

An Abe-compatible candidate to head Japan’s central bank. Japan’s Nikkei newspaper is reporting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has chosen Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda as its nominee to lead the Bank of Japan. Kuroda is considered a proponent of aggressive monetary easing, which Abe has pushed for in the hopes of stirring up economic growth.

Italians vote on Bersani, Beppo, Berlusconi. Polling in the two-day national parliamentary elections ends today, with a center-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani predicted to win narrowly. The outcome is hard to call, particularly in the upper house, as former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and one-time TV comic Beppe Grillo have pursued aggressively populist campaigns against austerity measures. At stake: plenty, including the danger of another dip in the euro.

Gadget-o-mania descends on Barcelona. Smartphone and tablet makers are unveiling new devices at the annual Mobile World Congress that kicks off today. Among them are Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0, which will go head-to-head with Apple’s super-popular iPad Mini. HP is launching a similar device, priced at a compelling $169.

UK monthly house price data. A month ago, January’s numbers from mortgage lender Nationwide indicated prices were up 0.5%, strengthening the pound almost immediately.

British Petroleum on trial. The energy giant faces the start of a civil trial in New Orleans for damages related to the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. There’s talk of a possible $16 billion settlement.

Over the weekend

Raul Castro announced he is stepping down. In 2018, that is. Cuba’s president will complete his second term, which started this year, before handing power to his new first vice-president, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Firefox entered the crowded mobile operating system software market. Like Google’s Android, Firefox OS will be free. Like Chrome OS, it is actually a browser that’s cleverly disguised as an operating-system. Like Apple’s iOS—oh wait, it’s open and HTML5-based and nothing at all like iOS.

India will license more banks. Starting July 1, the Reserve Bank of India will accept bids for new banking licenses, with the Birla group and Anil Ambani’s Reliance expected to apply. Only about a dozen private banks operate in India and the sector is still dominated by state-controlled institutions.

Pope Benedict XVI gave his final Sunday blessing. Crowds gathered outside his window to hear the soon-to-be retiree’s last public benediction in office. Italian election analysts say the papal media frenzy has stolen attention from Berlusconi, slowing the former minister’s climb in election polls.

Decision in the Cypriot presidential race. Conservative Nicos Anastasiades declared victory over the Left’s Stavros Malas. Anastasiades will push for an EU bailout of the strapped Cypriot economy.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gideon Lichfield says downgrades don’t really matter–and here’s a guide to parsing coverage of the latest, Moody’s downgrade of the UK sovereign debt: “Downgrades are often meaningless, irrelevant or even downright misleading, and this one in particular. So why do they generate so many headlines?…downgrades are just too easy to write about. They sound bad, they contain something measurable, and they provide a quick headline. The measurability is especially key here: You can dispute what a measurement means or how much it matters, but not the measurement itself, which in this tendentious world, makes it easier than almost anything else for a journalist to report on.” Read more.

Matters of debate

We should miss the handmade. Dave Eggers muses on a world that’s “all keyboards and screens.”

It is time for the robots to be the good guys. IBM’s Watson plunges into healthcare – are we ready?

Language traps feminism. Is it about more than “having it all?”

Medical bills are terrible in more ways than you think. The US healthcare debate has let us forget one thing: who pays the bills?

Surprising discoveries

A nine-year-old Oscar nominee receives a very strange goody-bag.

One Kenyan phone company’s mobile payment system touches 31% percent of the nation’s GDP.

Bulls can cry. And this one, in Hong Kong, wept to save its own life. But it’s getting harder to be a professional animal-lover. Veterinary school costs are sky-high, and the profession offers only low payoff.

A new battle over standards. This time it’s wireless charging.

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