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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Einstein’s gravitational waves, stocks keep falling, Colorado’s marijuana mega-bucks

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

Global stocks are tumbling again. The Stoxx Europe 600 is down by 3.5%, as US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s comments did little to reassure investors (paywall). Earlier, Hong Kong’s benchmark dropped by 3.9% after being closed for three days—the biggest fall to start a Chinese new year since 1994. 

The so-called “Oregon Militia” step down. The three remaining armed men and one woman, who have occupied a state wildlife reserve for 40 days, will leave the complex this morning. Several have already left after protesting government land rights.

The anti-ISIL coalition meets in Brussels. Defense ministers from 66 countries will meet at NATO headquarters to discuss the conflict in Syria. US defense secretary Ash Carter is expected to share plans to retake parts of Syria and Iraq from ISIL, and call upon other nations to play a bigger role against the group.

A huge discovery could reaffirm Albert Einstein’s genius. A team of US physicists is expected to announce the discovery of clear, unambiguous evidence of gravitational waves, 100 years after the physicist first predicted their existence. The team’s work could earn them a Nobel Prize, if it holds up.

One of the last remaining Nazis goes on trial. Reinhold Hanning, a 94-year-old who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp, is accused of being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people.

Earnings, earnings, earnings. Investors in Activision Blizzard will expect an update on the $5.9-billion acquisition of smartphone-game maker King Digital. PepsiCo is expected to offset a global decline in demand for fizzy, sugary drinks with strong results from its massive snacks unit. AIG, CBS, Thompson Reuters, and Time Inc. also report earnings.

While you were sleeping

Suicide bombers killed at least 60 in Nigeria. The female attackers targeted a camp for people displaced by Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group. Almost 80 people were injured in the explosions, which took place in the northeastern town of Dikwa.

Hong Kong began charging rioters. The first of 37 people arrested on charges of rioting earlier this week was barred from entering (paywall) a part of the city where the violence took place. Defendants accused the police of violence and of sleep deprivation.

North and South Korea shut down a joint business park. The South is clearing out removable items after the North said it would close the business and freeze South Korean assets. The fallout comes after the North launched a satellite into orbit on Sunday. Separately, the US voted to increase sanctions against North Korea.

Rio Tinto detailed an awful year for raw materials. The world’s second-largest miner reported a net loss of $866 million in 2015, after commodity prices spent the year in a rut. But Rio maintained its dividend for the year ahead at the same rate as last year, while its peers are expected to cut theirs.

Socété Générale made a weaker-than-expected profit. The French bank’s fourth-quarter net income rose to €656 million ($741.5 million), from €549 million a year earlier, after it set aside an extra €400 million to cover litigation costs.

The State Bank of India reported terrible quarter. The country’s largest lender posted a net income of 11.2 billion rupees ($164 million) for the final three months of 2015, a 62% drop from a year earlier. A jump in bad loans hurt the bank’s profit, which was the slowest in four years.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on what would happen if Donald Trump became the US president. “In a word, chaos. In two, expensive chaos… But here’s the surprise: While most of his proposals are sheer lunacy, some of his economic proposals are grounded in a surprisingly well-developed worldview—one that could arguably help American workers, though not without enormous disruption.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

A basic pillar of finance is crumbling. Negative interest rates have turned financial logic upside-down.

The world’s richest countries are a ticking demographic time bomb. The year 2040 is not looking good.

There’s a microcephaly-causing virus even scarier than Zika. Cytomegalovirus is already just about everywhere.

Surprising discoveries

Egypt’s presidential motorcade drove along a two-mile (3.2 km) red carpet. It was visiting some of Cairo’s poorest people.

A Slovenian town is going ahead with Europe’s first beer fountain. Never wait at the bar again.

Colorado now has a billion-dollar marijuana industry. It’s earned the state more than $135 million in taxes.

More twins are being born in developed countries. An increase in older women giving birth is the likely cause.

China is reshaping soccer. Taking advantage of Brazil’s economic downturn, Chinese clubs have been signing some of the country’s top players.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, beer fountains, and marijuana stats to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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