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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Bill Gates agrees with FBI, Houston oil speech, anti-smoking cat videos

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

The world’s oil giants meet. At a conference in Houston, Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi—considered the world’s most powerful energy policymaker—makes a speech and comes face-to-face with the US shale producers blaming him for the collapse in prices.

Bill Gates sides with the FBI. The Microsoft co-founder has bucked the trend of the tech industry, saying that Apple should open the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers. Gates told the Financial Times (paywall) that the situation is no different than other requests from the authorities to examine phone and bank records.

Mr. Wang goes to Washington. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s three-day visit comes while tensions are high over his nation’s missile deployment in the South China Sea. (China has also been accused of building radar facilities—a bigger regional threat than even missiles, according to a US-based think tank.) North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling will also be on the agenda.

DreamWorks Animation showcases its fourth quarter. The Hollywood studio made only one movie last year, but has been licensing more of its content to Netflix to capitalize on changing viewing habits. Analysts expect strong earnings.

US retailers get their report cards. Home Depot’s fourth-quarter results, expected to be better than the same period last year, will offer hints on the health of the US housing market and big-ticket consumer spending. Analysts don’t expect much good news for Macy’s.

While you were sleeping

Standard Chartered posted a surprise loss. The British bank reported a $1.5-billion pre-tax loss for 2015, compared with a $4.2-billion profit a year earlier. CEO Bill Winters said the Asia-focused bank will have a tough 2016 as it continues to restructure.

Peru launched an investigation into an Amazon oil spill. Petroperu, a state-owned pipeline operator, could face fines of 60 million soles ($17 million) if a January spill is found to have affected locals’ health. Three thousand barrels of oil contaminated two rivers in the region.

The Syngenta buyout got another partner. China Reform Holdings, an investment vehicle for revamping state-owned enterprises, is in talks with ChemChina to join the purchase of the world’s largest seeds maker, according to Bloomberg. ChemChina recently agreed a $43-billion price tag for Syngenta.

Danone reported a solid year. The French-based food group behind Evian water and Actimel yogurt posted a 4.4%-increase in like-for-like sales in 2015, beating similar figures for rival Nestlé. That was achieved partly due to a resurgence in baby milk formula purchases in China.

Water was partially restored to Delhi. Military personnel completed some repairs to a canal damaged by activists protesting jobs in a neighboring state. That allowed schools to reopen, but large parts of the capital remains short of water.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on what to make of Bernie Sanders’s economic proposals. “The controversial projections behind Sanders’ plan, by economist Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, rely on the conviction that massive fiscal spending can be a huge growth engine.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Illicit drugs are a market to be tamed, not a war to be won. Cartels face the same economic pressures as other businesses.

Single women are the most important voters in the US. Their hopes and dreams are driving progressive politics.

By 2030, there will be a clean energy breakthrough to save the planet. So says Bill Gates.

Surprising discoveries

NASA declassified strange music from the dark side of the moon. One astronaut described it as “a whistling outer-space-type thing.”

There is a man who narrates his dreams as he dreams them. His sleep-talking is a boon to neuroscience.

We may have reached peak Internet-of-things. A new toothbrush connects to your smartphone camera to watch you clean your teeth.

India is about to overtake Japan as the third-largest oil importer. It’s the next big story in oil demand.

There is a cat video that could help you stop smoking. It tells you what happens to the cats of smokers.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, space music, and sleep-talking to on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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