Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Apple earnings, French transport strike, Rumsfeld’s gaming app

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What to watch for today

Apple faces the doubters. The company’s shares have been hammered by reports of slowing iPhone sales, so investors will be scrutinizing quarterly results that include the holiday season. Other earnings include: Procter & Gamble, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, Capital One, 3M, and Philips.

Japan’s royals visit the Philippines. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrive for a rare trip to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations and to “spiritually interact with the souls of the victims” of World War Two. Advocacy groups want the royals to meet with some of the “comfort women” abused by the Japanese Army.

France at a standstill. Taxi drivers and air traffic controllers join a massive strike of the country’s civil servants, which could lead to gridlock at major airports. Airline workers are demanding better pay and pensions, and taxi drivers continue to protest against car-hailing apps such as Uber.

Thailand attempts to contain the MERS virus. Thirty-two people have been quarantined and eight more are being sought, after a second case of the respiratory virus was confirmed in the country Friday (Jan. 22). The patient is an elderly Omani man; MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia.

While you were sleeping

European politicians were named to AIIB roles. Danny Alexander, a former UK treasury minister, will move to Beijing to take one of the five vice-president jobs at China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Germany also secured several high-ranking positions.

Another suitor lined up to buy Peroni and Grolsch. Fraser and Neave, the Singapore-based conglomerate, has formally expressed interest in purchasing the beer brands, thought to be worth around $1.3 billion. They’re expected to go on sale when parent company SABMiller is acquired by mega-brewer AB InBev.

Sprint slashed 2,500 jobs. The struggling US wireless carrier said most roles would be cut from its customer service division, in an effort to reduce costs by $2.5 billion. That sent shares down by over 12% yesterday; its Japanese parent, Softbank, fell by 5.9% in morning trading in Asia.

Johnson Controls bought Tyco for $16.5 billion. The deal allows the US car battery and parts maker to switch its headquarters to Ireland, where its smaller peer is based. That is expected to save an estimated $150 million in US taxes each year; US politicians may not be pleased (paywall).

American Apparel ditched Dov Charney for good. A bankruptcy judge approved a restructuring plan that gives complete control of the troubled LA-based clothing company to bondholders. That wipes out the controversial founder’s equity stake.

Quartz obsession interlude

David Yanofsky and Jason Karaian on tracking Davos’s private helicopters—using a homemade antenna. “Use of private aircraft, though often wildly overstated, highlights the vast wealth and power that descends upon this small skiing town in the Swiss Alps each year… Chartering a helicopter flight from Zürich to Davos can cost as much as $10,000. We built our helicopter-tracking rig for under $200.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The rise of robots will halt inflation. If you think interest rates are low now, just wait until millions of jobs are lost to automation.

Apple’s era of unstoppable sales growth is over. Global smartphone fatigue is taking its toll.

Sarah Palin has saved feminism. Often, when a woman fails, all women look bad; not so with the former Alaska governor (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

Donald Rumsfeld created a solitaire app. The former US secretary of defense advertises it as the version played by Winston Churchill.

A Thai airline is letting passengers buy seats for their lifelike dolls. They will not be allowed to sit in exit rows.

Airbnb hosts tried to rent out an igloo in New York. The $200-per-night listing, constructed after a recent blizzard, was quickly removed from the site.

Dinosaurs were lovers, not fighters. Their horns were instrumental to mating—not combat, as was previously thought.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lifelike dolls, and igloo vacancies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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