Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Foxconn eyes Sharp, Starbucks earnings, sarcasm detectors

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What to watch for today

Prime minister day at Davos. UK leader David Cameron, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu will all speak at separate panels at the World Economic Forum. Off-stage, Tsipras will try to persuade (paywall) Greece’s creditors to ease up on austerity measures.

Starbucks reports its earnings. The US coffee shop chain is expected to announce a large increase in fourth-quarter profit, on strong seasonal sales and a popular food menu. It is also succeeding in China, where other fast food companies are struggling.

Dov Charney gives it one last try. The disgraced founder of American Apparel is making a final attempt to regain control of the company by trying to derail its bankruptcy proceedings. If the court approves a restructuring plan backed by a hedge fund, the company will go private and Charney’s shares will become worthless.

The European Central Bank’s rate decision. The bank introduced a stimulus package just six weeks ago, so analysts expect it will hold off on further changes for now. But weak inflation and low oil prices could prompt it to take action.

While you were sleeping

Foxconn offered to buy Sharp for $5.3 billion. The Taiwanese manufacturing giant best known for assembling iPhones said it would also take on all of the Japanese company’s debt, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). It hopes the outsized offer for the struggling gadget maker will convince shareholders to drop concerns about selling to a foreign owner.

Wal-Mart announced a wage increase for 1.1 million employees. The largest private employer in the US will move lower-paid employees to a minimum of $10 per hour. The increase, aimed at retaining more employees, is expected to begin next month.

Deutsche Bank warned of a major loss. Germany’s biggest lender gave investors a heads up that it will likely see a €2.1 billion ($2.3 billion) net loss when it reports fourth-quarter earnings. That largely came from litigation and restructuring fees, the bank said, warning that 2016 will be “pretty messy” too.

2015 was confirmed the hottest year on record. NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration both independently concluded that the global surface temperature was the hottest since records began, in 1880. The previous record was set just one year earlier.

Barclays plans to quit Taiwan and South Korea. The British bank announced to employees that it will exit the two countries and close its cash equities business in Asia, according to Reuters. CEO Jes Staley has complained that the restructuring of the bank has been moving too slowly.

“Minions” became Universal’s most profitable movie. The movie was one of only three that grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, said Steve Burke, head of NBCUniversal, in a memo to employees. The movie cost $74 million to produce, and earned $1.2 billion in box office sales.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kevin Delaney on the radical optimism of Canada’s prime minister. “His electoral mandate is to ‘provide a positive and good government for Canadians,’ Justin Trudeau says, ‘rather than focusing on what we’re scared of.’ But what about the prospect of terrorism attacks on Canadian soil? ‘People are open to not choosing to live in constant fear,’ Trudeau says. ‘We have to make a choice about how much we’re going to close and limit and crack down on our society in order to protect it.’” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Davos is a farce cooked up for the masses. The super-rich play by different rules than the rest of the world.

There’s nothing wrong with mourning on social media. Let’s ditch the assumption that grief is only sincere if it’s private.

Gossiping isn’t a flaw, it’s a skill. Being a good gossip means being a team player, and reading your peers correctly.

Surprising discoveries

Brazil is deploying genetically modified mosquitoes. The weaponized insects are the best hope against dengue and the Zika virus.

Virtual archeologists are recreating ISIL’s sacked cities. 3D printers are being used to make models of Palmyra, Syria.

Researchers have developed an extremely effective “sarcasm detector.” They trained their algorithms by reading #sarcasm tweets.

A group of Frenchmen once tried to establish a communist utopia in Texas. The 1848 commune quickly failed.

By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Pound for pound, manmade trash will outweigh marine life.

Chris Sheldrick is founder and CEO of what3words, a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares that gives every location in the world an easy-to-use address. Following his standout presentation at The Next Billion: New York, Chris will join Quartz on Slack for our first live chat Q&A with our editors and readers. Sign up now to join us today from 1-2pm EST.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, weaponized mosquitoes, and algorithmic sarcasm to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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