Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—A Trump-less debate, Amazon’s earnings miss, obesity switch

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What to watch for today and over the weekend

African leaders vote on sending a peacekeeping force to Burundi. Leaders want to send 5,000 troops to end violence that erupted there last year, after president Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term. The decision is made more difficult by Nkurunziza’s promise that any incoming troops will be treated as hostile forces.

Will Takata’s CEO step down? Shigehisa Takada plans to meet with major automakers to discuss the possibility of financial support to keep the airbag manufacturer alive, following a long-running safety scandal. A precondition of financial support would be Takada’s resignation, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

A crucial deadline for US-EU data-sharing arrives. Negotiators have until Sunday to come up with a replacement for the “safe harbor” agreement, which allowed the transatlantic transfer of EU citizens’ personal data. The deal was invalidated by the EU, whose concerns about privacy are clashing with US tech ambitions.

While you were sleeping

US Republican presidential hopefuls debated. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz—but not front-runner Donald Trump, who sat out—spent much of the debate arguing that they wouldn’t support a path to citizenship for the US’s undocumented immigrants. That’s despite the fact that they each previously backed such a plan.

Amazon disappointed investors… The online retail giant posted a fourth-quarter net profit of $482 million, its biggest ever. But its earnings per share figure fell woefully short of expectations, sending its share price down by as much as 13% in after-hours trading.

…while Microsoft won on the cloud. Adjusted sales and profit for the IT giant’s fiscal second quarter both beat expectations on the back of cost cutting and a growing cloud business. Microsoft increased its full-year revenue forecast for its cloud unit by 15%, to $9.4 billion.

Japan adopted a negative interest rate. The central bank voted to reduce the benchmark borrowing rate to -0.1%, in a fresh attempt to raise inflation. As expected, the bank kept its quantitative easing target at 80 trillion yen ($677 billion) per year.

Syria peace talks crumbled. Groups opposing Bashar al-Assad’s government cancelled their RSVP to negotiations in Geneva, derailing what would have been the most significant talks yet in the five-year civil war. The opposition council said that Assad’s side had not met their demands, including an end to air strikes.

Quartz obsession interlude

Alice Truong on how Google’s longer maternity leave policy helped the company.  “These changes do more than to make new mothers feel welcomed in the workplace. Because turnover is costly for businesses—by one estimate it costs 20% or more of an employee’s salary to replace him or her—companies, too, benefit from keeping female employees and their expertise.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Tokyo is the best city in the world for food. Even convenience stores and McDonald’s are better there.

It’s time to stop segregating Oscar nominees by gender. The notion that men and women approach acting differently is outdated.

Publishers are responsible for curbing online abuse. To get started, the industry joke about ignoring the comments section needs to end.

Surprising discoveries

Mexican drug smugglers used to accept Levi’s 501s as cash. In the late 1980s, the jeans were a sign that you’d made it.

Corpse-eating mushrooms are key to eco-friendly funerals. The Infinity Burial Suit is infused with spores that neutralize the toxins in decaying cadavers.

The humble binder clip is the world’s best gadget. It can be hacked into an iPhone dock, a toothpaste squeezer, and even a projectile weapon.

There’s a molecular switch that may turn obesity on and off. The epigenetic change explains why identical twins can be different weights.

Some of the most valuable info about ancient humans comes from their poop. Dozens of researchers focus only on fecal matter.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, binder clips, and Levi’s 501s to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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