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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—China’s National Congress, Kenya election, Standard Chartered, Lonely Plant, a plague of locusts

By Lily Kuo

What to watch for today

Kenyans vote, mock foreign media. If all goes well in the first national election since a disputed presidential poll in 2007, the country could see a bump in growth. Over a dozen people were killed by machete-wielding gangs as voting began, but online, Kenyans have been making fun of cliché-seeking foreign journalists.

China’s rubber-stamp parliament begins a two-week session of political theater. But watch for clues at the meeting of the National People’s Congress on the new administration’s likely moves on welfare reform, lowering inequality, and handling the country’s pollution problems.

Ireland asks for backing from the EU over draft rules on bank capital requirements, as European Union finance ministers meet in Brussels.

Yulia Tymoshenko appears in court. The former Ukrainian prime minister and opposition leader charged with abuse of office will appear in court after spending nine months in a hospital for back problems. Critics say she was jailed so she wouldn’t be a threat to the current president, Viktor Yanukovych.

Standard Chartered releases full-year earnings. In December, the bank said that it expected its profit last year to have grown at a rate in the high single digits.

Also watch: Data may show that US service industries kept growing last month, while the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for euro zone economies is expected to show a slowdown. There are also PMI data for the BRIC countries.

While you were sleeping

Lonely Planet is about to be sold. And the buyer? Reclusive Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley, one of the largest landowners and conservationists in the United States.

Obama made his environmental picks. President Barack Obama nominated air quality expert Gina McCarthy to run the Environmental Protection Agency and nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz to lead the Department of Energy. Both are expected to help focus on climate-change issues.

Apple dived, Google soared. The iThings maker hit a new 52-week low, while the search company’s stock price reached an all-time high (paywall).

Quartz obsession interlude

Gina Chon on how a Chinese conglomerate could knock down American foreign investment barriers. “The agency that polices the national security risks of foreign companies buying US firms may be about to get its wings clipped. Last week a US judge, while dismissing most of a lawsuit brought by Chinese-owned Ralls Corporation against the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), surprisingly allowed one count claiming violation of constitutional due process rights to go forward. If Ralls succeeds on that count, it could curb the powers of CFIUS and force it to become more transparent.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Ten reasons why the euro zone can’t be helped. No. 1: It’s all Italy’s fault. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley says we’re just in another cycle of euro crisis panic that will get better with time.

Having too many bankers is bad for an economy. Financial sector growth drags down economic and productivity growth.

The office is overrated. Companies like Yahoo should pay more attention to the variety of work employees do rather than obsessing over chance encounters between staff that could give rise to innovation.

Goldman Sachs may have found a way around the Volcker Rule. And indeed, why not?

Why did the architect of post-World-War-II capitalism spy for the Soviet Union? Harry Dexter White, a little known Treasury official and architect of the Bretton Woods system, was a long-time Soviet mole.

Surprising discoveries

Two thirds of Alaska belongs to Alaska airline’s frequent flyer program. What’s behind the best-managed airline in the United States.

Hospital design matters. Studies show that design characteristics from natural light to the presence of trees can have a direct affect on health and healing.

Somali pirates make about $120 million a year in net profits and have cost the global shipping industry up to $3.3 billion a year.

A plague of 30 million locusts swept over Egypt, just in time for Passover.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and hospital designs to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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