Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Twitter’s shake-up, US recovers from snowstorm, are humans innately violent?

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What to watch for today

The US gets back to work after Winter Storm Jonas. The blizzard is over but the US east coast has a lot of shoveling to do. While New York transit is up and running again, the Washington subway will guarantee only a minimum service. Many schools will stay closed today in the affected areas.

A big shake-up at Twitter. Several executives announced their departure yesterday—including its heads of PR, engineering, and video service Vine—and new arrivals (as well as some more potential exits) are expected today.

Hassan Rouhani visits Europe. The Iranian president’s first stop is Italy, where he is expected to sign a range of business deals in the first visit by an Iranian leader in 16 years. That follows an announcement yesterday by Iran’s transport ministry that it wants to buy 160 European passenger aircraft.

Syrian peace talks are due to start in Geneva. Whether they actually do is another question, as is the final list of attendees. But the idea is for the United Nations to broker talks between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime and many of his opponents.

US corporates begin a big week of earnings reports. McDonald’s and Kimberly Clark announce their latest set of quarterly results before the markets open. Later this week, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft will also report.

Over the weekend

The US had a lot of snow. Between Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning, the US eastern coast was hit by a blizzard of historic proportions that affected 80 million people. Twenty-eight people died and New Jersey experienced record flooding. But some still had fun.

Russia’s economy shrank by the most since 2009. GDP dropped by 3.7% in 2015 on a weak oil price and sanctions over its annexation of Crimea. That was worse than 2014’s 0.6% growth, but nevertheless slightly better than analysts expected.

Adidas reportedly cancelled its athletics sponsorship deal. The largest sponsor of world athletics’ governing body ended its contract four years early, the BBC reported. Investigations into the International Association of Athletics Federations have led to accusations of both state-sponsored doping and corruption.

ISIL released earlier footage of the Paris attackers. The video appears to show that the men who killed 130 people in Paris were first active in Syria and Iraq, and were not simply inspired by Islamic State from Europe. The video also ends with a reference to the UK as potential target.

Is Michael Bloomberg preparing a US presidential run? The self-made billionaire and former New York City mayor is considering a bid as an independent candidate, according to the New York Times (paywall). He’d most likely run if Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were nominated as the Republican and Democratic candidates, respectively.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on Jeff Bezos’ re-usable rocket: “It’s not clear yet when Blue Origin will begin making money off its rocket. New Shepherd is not powerful enough to carry large cargo, so the company has mainly focused on a space tourism model, promising the ride of a lifetime to ticket-holding passengers, but it’s not clear when you’ll be able to buy a ticket.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Small talk makes the world bearable. There’s more to life than profound conversation.

If you nominate Bernie Sanders, you’ll get president Donald Trump. That is, if Michael Bloomberg does run as an independent.

Humans are, and have always been, violent. A 10,000-year-old massacre may be the oldest proof of warfare between humans.

Surprising discoveries

A Hawaii politician tried campaigning via Tinder. “I thought the one-on-one interaction would be great, but it just leads to other things,” said the disappointed county councilman.

A potential $47-million lottery-winning ticket went through the wash. The British lottery is still offering to look at the faded stub.

One man’s dying wish was to ask others not to support Donald Trump. “In lieu of flowers,” his obituary said.

Japan rules the sport of sumo again. A local boy won the Emperor’s Cup after a decade of domination by Mongolians.

South Africa has university grants for women who are virgins. Women in the Uthukela region will be given regular virginity tests to qualify for the bursaries.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, small-talk conversation starters, and washed-up lottery tickets to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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