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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Ikea hotel, Fox sports, miner profits, pirate economics

By Quartz Staff

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

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.

An Ikea hotel. The flatpack furniture giant will join with Marriott to flood Europe with budget hotels. The properties won’t have Ikea furniture and they won’t serve Ikea’s meatballs but they will be made in Ikea’s mold: with pre-fab rooms assembled elsewhere and put together on site.

And a Murdoch sports channel. Rupert Murdoch’s cherished dream of creating a competitor to ESPN will come true today as Fox announced Fox Sports 1, to launch in August.

More sanctions for North Korea. The US and China have agreed to punish Pyongyang for its latest nuclear weapons test. The new measures will be made public in a UN Security Council meeting today.

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.

Also watch: Data may show that US service industries kept growing last month.

While you were sleeping

China’s rubber-stamp parliament began a two-week session of political theater. Watch for clues of the new administration’s likely moves on welfare reform, lowering inequality, and handling the country’s pollution problems.

Standard Chartered released its full-year earnings report. And it was a doozy. The bank reported its tenth straight year of record profits, up 1% from last year to $6.9 billion, despite a $667 million fine for breaking sanctions on Iran. The bad news, however, is that the bonus pool has shrunk 7%.

Miners plumbed the depths. Following a pattern set by Rio Tinto and Anglo American, Glencore and Xstrata’s annual profits suffered on the back of writedowns in aluminum and other  sectors. Glencore and Xstrata will merge on April 16.

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

China hiked 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.

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?

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 hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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