Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Syria talks crumble, GoPro’s struggle, Google’s magic mirror

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What to watch for today

India holds a foreign investment summit. Finance minister Arun Jaitley presides over a two-day conference aimed at attracting investors. One big opportunity: funding rapid urban makeovers through the creation of  “smart cities.”

China tries to restrict capital outflows. The government is curbing purchases of Hong Kong-based financial products, which are often used to illicitly move money out of the mainland. Huge capital outflows have the Chinese government concerned.

Congress looks into pharmaceutical drug pricing. US lawmakers will question former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli and interim Valeant chief Howard Shiller. Drug prices were put into the spotlight by the former’s 5,000% increase in the price of an AIDS medicine.

While you were sleeping

The Syrian peace talks fell apart. Government and opposition representatives blamed each other for the breakdown in discussions, which ended after just two days. The opposition accused the government of continuing bombing in Syria during the talks; the talks are now suspended for three weeks.

YouTube announced the launch of its original programming. The Alphabet-owned video website will make three movies and one series available to subscribers in the US next Wednesday (Feb. 10). The content is created by some of the most popular “amateur” video makers on the site, backed by a professional budget.

Barack Obama reached out to American Muslims. The US president spoke out against bigotry and in support of religious freedom at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Maryland. It was Obama’s first trip to a US mosque since he became president, and aimed to both reassure Muslim-Americans and dampen Islamophobic rhetoric.

Yum Brands posted mixed results. The KFC and Pizza Hut owner said fourth-quarter revenue fell to $3.95 billion, compared with expectations of $4.02 billion, but that its adjusted profit per share was better than anticipated. Same-store sales at its soon-to-be-spun-off China unit rose for only the second time in six quarters.

GoPro issued a profit warning. The maker of wearable cameras said revenue for the current quarter will amount to no more than $180 million, well below expectations of almost $300 million. Slowing demand and low-cost rivals such as Xiaomi are putting pressure on the company.

Quartz obsession interlude

Aamna Mohdin on Germany’s search for the Holy Grail of energy. “There are a number of challenges to harnessing nuclear fusion—researchers need to build a device that can heat atoms to temperatures of more than 100 million °C (180 million °F). After almost nine years of construction work and more than a million assembly hours, researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald are set to do just that by heating a tiny amount of hydrogen until it becomes as hot, hopefully, as the center of the sun.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Parents should teach their kids to be real. Authenticity is more important than turning your kid into the next Mark Zuckerberg.

Donald Trump is sabotaging his own presidential bid. Whining about losing Iowa won’t help him at the next ballot.

Cancer rates are rising faster among Chinese women than men. Potential causes range from a “Westernized” lifestyle to environmental pollution.

The internet wants you to lose your job. Social media make it easier than ever to be fired.

Surprising discoveries

Texas maintains a database of death row inmates’ last words. Psychologists found their statements to be largely positive.

The kale salad at McDonald’s has more calories than a Double Big Mac. That is, if you include the dressing.

Ancient Persians used bowls of water to tell time. The clepsydra acted much like an hourglass.

One US college is making its freshmen wear Fitbits. They used to write their steps down in a notebook.

A Google engineer built a magic mirror. It will tell you the news and weather—but it won’t lie about your looks. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, water bowl clocks, and magic mirrors to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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