Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—White House race begins, Alphabet reports earnings, “world’s best chef” dead

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What to watch for today

Iowa goes to the polls. Democrats and Republicans in the state will vote for their preferred presidential candidate. The biggest question is most likely whether billionaire Donald Trump can transform media attention into actual votes. Polling starts at 8pm ET

Is Chipotle off the hook? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to declare that an E. coli outbreak at the Mexican fast-casual restaurant chain is over (paywall). More than 50 customers were infected by the outbreak, but none have died. Its investigators failed to find the source.

Greece’s lenders stop in for a checkup. The International Monetary Fund and euro-zone creditors will examine that nation’s progress toward the economic reforms that were conditions for its emergency bailout last year.

Say hello to Google by a different name. The internet giant will report earnings under its new umbrella name, Alphabet, for the first time. Analysts will be looking at the new company structure that separates legacy businesses (like Google search) from the experimental stuff (like Nest and self-driving cars).

More earnings. Toy maker Mattel, insurance giant Aetna, and food conglomerate Sysco will also be updating investors on their respective businesses.

Over the weekend

Oil forced Nigeria to seek a $3.5-billion bailout. The government is in talks with the World Bank and the African Development Bank to secure funding to cover a record budget deficit. The shortfall is largely due to the fall in oil prices; finance minister Kemi Adeosun insists the country is not looking for “emergency loans.”

China busted a massive Ponzi scheme. Police detained 21 executives from Ezubao, a peer-to-peer lending website, for allegedly stealing 50 billion yuan ($7.6 billion) from almost a million investors. It’s the latest fraud to fleece China’s individual investors, who lost $24 billion last year to scams.

Myanmar opened its first freely elected parliament in 50 years. Hundreds of members were sworn in to a parliament dominated by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. Next on the list is for Suu Kyi to find a president to replace the outgoing Thein Sein.

China’s factory activity dropped to a three-year low… The official purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.4 in January, missing expectations of 49.6; any number below 50 suggests a contraction in activity. China’s services sector expanded in January but at a slower pace than in December.

…as euro-area factories slashed prices. The Markit purchasing managers’ index dropped to 52.3 in January from 53.2 in December, signalling a slower pace of expansion. That’s despite factories cutting prices by the most in a year to maintain demand.

More big bank fines. Credit Suisse and Barclays will split the $154.3-million tab owed to the New York attorney general and the US Securities and Exchange Commission for not fully disclosing the role of high-frequency traders in their so-called “dark pool” exchanges.

Quartz obsession interlude

Janet Guyon on how digital media became dependent on Donald Trump: “In revenue terms, that 10x means if a website earns $20 for every thousand page views, it can make, say, $20,000 on a Trump story, but only $2,000 on an article about Cruz, Clinton, Sanders, or Rubio.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Bernie Sanders fans are ignoring the lessons of the past eight years. Promises of a “political revolution” won’t lead to anything of the kind.

The end of food is here. Meal-replacement services like Soylent have evolved (paywall).

Hillary Clinton’s female donors could change US politics. Many are giving for the first time, but they are likely to donate again.

Surprising discoveries

Ancient Babylonians had a sophisticated understanding of astronomy. They were able to track Jupiter’s movements with mathematical precision.

The “world’s best chef” has killed himself. Benoit Violier, who ran a Swiss restaurant, is not the first to end his life over Michelin stars.

Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone used to road-trip together. The three industrialists took annual drives all over the US.

Cycling has a “technological doping” problem. A motor was found in a bike used in this year’s World Championships.

Humans ate a 500-lb (227-kg) bird into extinction. Researchers think we finished them off 50,000 years ago.

A stationery firm accidently waded into the Israel and Palestine conflict. It made a globe that omitted Israel on the map.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, controversial globes, and ancient Babylonian astronomy tips to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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