Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Chavez funeral, island elections, North Korean tantrum, buzzing bees

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What to watch for today

Hugo Chavez will be laid to rest. And already US-Venezuelan relations are improving: a delegation of lawmakers and State Department officials will attend the ceremony. The late president’s body will reportedly be kept on permanent display in a glass casket.

Milos Zeman takes office as the Czech president. The leftist former prime minister is the country’s first directly elected president. Zeman will be a change from his famously euroskeptic predecessor Václav Klaus. For one thing, the European Union flag will go back up at Prague Castle, his official residence.

Al Qaeda’s PR man will appear in court. Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law and a spokesman for Al Qaeda was arrested in Turkey a few weeks ago. Today he will be brought before a federal court in New York to face charges of terrorism.

Another 165,000 people in employment. As the global economy picks up steam, new data is expected to show that American unemployment stayed at 7.9% even as thousands of people found jobs in February.

Two islands go to the polls. On Saturday, the tiny Mediterranean nation of Malta (pop. 420,000) votes in national elections, with the leftist Labour party expected to take power for the first time since 1998. The Falkland Islands—or Islas Malvinas as the Argentinians call them—will vote to stay a part of the British Empire in a referendum starting Sunday with an electorate of 1,672 voters.

While you were sleeping

China released encouraging trade data. Exports grew by 21.8%, more than double analysts’ forecasts, while imports were down 15.2%. The trade surplus for the month was $15.25 billion, down from $29.15 billion in January.

The world’s relations with North Korea got worse. The UN Security Council voted unanimously and without debate to impose fresh sanctions on North Korea after its recent nuclear test. In response, the Hermit Kingdom broke off a non-aggression pact and a hotline with the US and the South.

Most US banks would do okay in a recession. The results of bank stress tests showed that 17 of the 18 biggest US banks could weather a recession. Only Ally Financial, an auto lender, failing to meet the regulatory minimum.

Nobody changed anything. The European Central Bank kept interest rates at 0.75%, the Bank of England declined to buy more bonds, and the Bank of Japan voted against more monetary stimulus.

You got a new Facebook newsfeed. Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a redesigned landing page, with bigger pictures, less clutter and lots of more options to fiddle with. It promises minutes of fun.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anna Codrea-Rado on why managers should keep their employees caffeinated. “Whether you’re a prince of the church or a cubicle-dwelling drone, there seems to be an unbreakable bond between work and coffee: The boss provides the java and the java fuels the workers, keeping them revved up, connected, and toiling away at their given tasks.” Read Quartz’s complete guide to coffee in the workplace here.

Matters of debate

Did the CIA give Chavez cancer? Probably not but that hasn’t stopped a wave of conspiracy theories over America’s involvement in his death. 

Small businesses in Italy and Spain bear the brunt of the euro zone’s problems.

Market highs aren’t everything. Three reasons why you shouldn’t get so excited about market index zeniths.

The US brought down the British Empire. Dollar diplomacy was the real reason for British imperial collapse.

Surprising discoveries

Where do bees go for their morning buzz? Some plants’ nectar contains caffeine concentrated to about the same level as a cup of instant coffee. Apparently it improves their long-term memory.

There are 83 billionaires in China’s parliament while the richest lawmaker is America is barely worth half a billion.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, coffee trivia and good arguments for drinking a nice cup of tea instead to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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