Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Iran frees US sailors, LA Rams return, NASA’s “planetary defense office”

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What to watch for today

Iran frees the detained US sailors. Iranian state television has said the 10 US navy sailors detained yesterday for entering Iranian waters have been released, following a US apology for the territorial incursion. The US hasn’t confirmed their release yet.

England debates getting rid of “God Save The Queen.” MPs are set to vote on whether or not England should be given its own official national anthem, rather than the current one that applies to the United Kingdom as a whole. “Jerusalem” is often a popular contender.

The EU debates Poland’s rightward tilt. The European Commission will discuss new laws from Poland’s right-wing government giving it more power over the media and constitutional court. Poland could eventually face sanctions after an EU investigation.

Associated British Foods opens its books. The conglomerate owns businesses from Primark to Twinings, but it reported underwhelming third-quarter earnings and many analysts are now questioning the company’s share price.

GM gives its outlook on 2016. CEO Mary Barra will present the automaker’s expectations for the year ahead at the Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit.

While you were sleeping

Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address. The US president said he regretted the national divides that had deepened throughout his leadership. But Obama struck an optimistic tone on the future of the country’s military, health care, and economy.

Turkey arrested three Russians over a suicide-bomb attack. Police detained the men in connection with an attack that killed 10 tourists in Istanbul. Authorities have said the three have connections with the so-called Islamic State.

LA secured a football team for the first time in 21 years… The city is getting the St. Louis Rams—who left the Southern California area in 1995 for St. Louis. NFL owners voted 30-2 in favor of the Rams over the Chargers and Raiders for the relocation. St. Louis fans are  not happy.

…while FIFA fired its secretary general. The global soccer body dropped Jerome Valcke, after he was suspended from the organization for alleged corruption. Valcke was the right-hand man of Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s recently ousted president who was also banned from the organization for eight years.

A bomb attack in Pakistan killed at least 15. A blast caused by a possible suicide bomber also injured dozens outside a UN-backed polio vaccination center. No group has yet claimed responsibility, but jihadist groups are known to attack vaccine centers in the country.

China’s stock markets confounded investors again. The Shanghai benchmark stock exchange closed 2.4% down, a surprise given a calm morning and good trade data. Perhaps investors assumed that the better-than-expected trade numbers were fudged to look good.

Interest in Peroni and Grolsch heated up. San Miguel, the Philippines’ biggest brewer, confirmed its interest in buying the two European brands SABMiller is expected to offload to make its acquisition by Anheuser Busch InBev more palatable to regulators. Japan’s Asahi is also interested.

Quartz obsession interlude

Alison Griswold on how Uber might be undermining its own business model: “Uber’s fare guarantees are simply formalizing what’s already dictated by economics…But it’s one thing to leave something to the whims of supply and demand, and another to design incentives that skew the equation.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Bronze Age geopolitics look oddly like today. The era featured crippling droughts, civil wars, and mass exoduses in the Middle East.

Ted Cruz is not eligible to be president. The US founding fathers would not have considered him to be a “natural born citizen.”

Africa’s mobile phone market is far from saturated. Recent claims that it is nearing the end of a boom are false.

Surprising discoveries

An Ohio fugitive sent cops a selfie. The man, wanted for arson and vandalism, didn’t like his mugshot.

Lego lifted its ban on using its toy bricks for political statements. Outcry over its refusal to ship Ai Weiwei a bulk order led to the change.

The best way to euthanize a beached whale is to blow it to smithereens. Rifles aren’t powerful enough and injections take too long.

NASA opened a “planetary defense office” for doomsday asteroids. If it can’t deflect them, it will alert emergency responders.

The Playboy mansion is for sale—Hugh Hefner included. Buyers will have to rent it to the company founder for as long as he lives.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fugitive selfies, and asteroid alerts to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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