Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—StanChart results, Lonelier Planet, skittish British, 30m locusts

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

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. Bankers’ bonuses will be a topic of discussion and George Osborne, Britain’s finance minister, is expected to have something to say about it.

A result in Kenya’s elections. Early reports show Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, in the lead. At least 15 people were killed by machete-wielding gangs yesterday but the Kenyan elections were largely peaceful, dispelling fears of a repeat of 2007 when over 1,200 people died in ethnic violence. Online, Kenyans made fun of cliché-seeking foreign journalists.

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.

While you were sleeping

Britain shot itself in the foot. Again. Just months after David Cameron landed in Brazil with a delegation of 58 people trying to drum up business, his government has proposed new rules making it much harder (paywall) for Brazilians to travel to Britain. Mixed messages much, Dave?

Lonely Planet will be sold. And the buyer for the travel guidebook firm? Reclusive Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley, one of the largest landowners and conservationists in the United States.

Huge Chávez faded. The Venezuelan president contracted a severe respiratory infection after surgery for cancer. (Assuming he’s in fact alive.)

China hiked its defense spending by 10.7%. And that’s a sign of some restraint. Last year, it rose 11.2%; the previous year 12.7%. Between 2000 and 2009, it went up by an average of 16.5% each year.

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. The president also picked Sylvia Mathews Burwell, late of the Gates Foundation and Walmart Foundation, to run his Office of Management and Budget.

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.

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 effect 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, pirate business plans and any conceivable solutions for the euro zone to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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