Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Attacks in Jakarta, Al Jazeera’s retreat, Radiohead shell companies

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What to watch for today

Is the Ebola outbreak over? The World Health Organization is expected to announce that Liberia is free of the disease, ending an epidemic that has killed more than 11,000 people across west Africa since 2013. Today (Jan. 14) marks 42 days since the the last Ebola patients in Liberia tested negative.

The Bank of England’s interest rate decision. The UK central bank tends to follow the lead of the US Federal Reserve, but analysts expect the BOE will hold off on a long-anticipated hike in its benchmark rate. China’s market turmoil, plunging oil prices, and sluggish UK wages are all likely factors.

Intel reports its fourth-quarter earnings. The tech giant will likely reveal (pdf) a fourth-quarter profit slightly below analysts’ expectations. Though it’s diversifying into the higher-margin chips used in data centers, its main business is still making chips for personal computers—a shrinking market.

While you were sleeping

Explosions and gunfire hit central Jakarta. Multiple blasts occurred near the Sarinah shopping center, close to the United Nations office, and at other neighborhoods around the city. At least three people died, according to local media, including one attacker and one police officer.

General Electric is ditching Connecticut over higher taxes. The storied industrial conglomerate is relocating its headquarters to Boston, where it will receive $20 million in tax incentives. GE began its search for a new home after Connecticut lawmakers threatened higher corporate taxes to fill a budget gap.

Al Jazeera shut down its US cable news channel. The Qatari media company said its US news channel is “no longer sustainable” and will end operations on April 30, less than three years after Al Jazeera America launched. CEO Al Anstey said the company will expand its successful AJ+ online media brand.

A strong earthquake struck northern Japan. The preliminary magnitude was 6.7, with no threat of a tsunami foreseen.

The US will track luxury real estate buyers. The Treasury Department is worried that illicit funds are being smuggled into the US real estate market, and announced it require realtors to disclose names of high-end property buyers who pay in cash. The initiative will begin in Miami and New York.

A Chilean known for low-cost housing won architecture’s highest prize. The Pritzker Prize recognized Alejandro Aravena’s work, which “gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space.”

The numbers for a record $1.5 billion Powerball lottery were announced. Millions of people were disappointed to learn that the winning numbers in the massive US lottery were not the ones they chose, but rather 4, 8, 19, 27, 34, 10.

Quartz obsession interlude

Marc Bain on Michelle Obama’s sartorial statement at the State of the Union. “Its creator, Narciso Rodriguez, is a prominent American fashion designer who also happens to be a married gay man and the son of immigrants who fled Cuba to find a better life in the US. The First Lady notably chose a dress by Rodriguez for election night in 2008. It subtly endorsed the liberal values promoted by the left and by the president.” Read more here.

Markets haiku

T’was the worst of times

Okay, not the *worst* of times

But it’s looking grim

Matters of debate

Obama’s “moonshot” metaphor for cancer is a bad match. Curing the disease is actually much, much harder than landing on the moon.

Spending billions on pandemic prevention could save trillions. Outbreaks will cost more lives and money than any other security threat.

The future is already obvious for cars: Electric cars, autonomously driven, summoned from our smartphones.

Surprising discoveries

Squirrels are the real terrorists. They cause dozens of blackouts in the US every year.

Radiohead creates shell corporations for every new album. It prevents financial disaster if an album flops (paywall).

Michael Dell’s best investment has nothing to do with computers. He could reap billions from a US plan to buy back TV spectrum.

Low-fiber diets kill off healthy bacteria. Fill up on fruits and veggies to avoid a mass extinction in your gut.

A Russian prison official allegedly stole a road. He’s accused of dismantling the concrete slabs and selling them one by one.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Radiohead finance tips, and stolen roads to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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