What to watch for today
Patently taking too long. The US International Trade Commission issues a final ruling on whether Samsung infringed an Apple patent on how to select text on tablets and smartphones. Really, how many ways can there be?
Oil flows in Vienna. Ministers of OPEC meet in the Austrian capital to set the oil cartel’s latest output target. The group has been known for last minute changes of heart, but ministers are reportedly planning to keep oil production at the same rate it’s been for over a year and a half.
Traffic jams in Frankfurt. The “Blockupy” movement expects to draw thousands of protestors to the European Central Bank and other institutions.
Piles of drunks in Paris. President François Hollande is selling off 1,200 bottles of wine from the Elysée Palace’s cellar, some of which cost up to €2,200 ($2,869).
Hard data. India’s economy is expected to have grown 5% over the last quarter, the country’s slowest rate in a decade. Slovenia’s economy probably shrank, and Canada’s likely expanded by 0.1% in March.
While you were sleeping
Europe’s Robin Hood tax could get axed. EU officials are considering reducing as much as 90% of a charge proposed in the EU financial transactions tax.
Big-box sales got a boost. Wholesale retailer Costco reported better than expected earnings, a sign that US efforts to boost the housing market are helping spending.
A different kind of racket at the Olympics. The Winter Games in Sochi cost $30 billion more than they should have, says a Russian opposition politician, who claims the extra money was all stolen.
Not much love for leaders. Authorities stopped a possibly threatening letter destined for president Barack Obama. Over the last few weeks, letters filled with the poison ricin have been sent to US officials. Over in Australia, prime minister Julia Gillard had another sandwich thrown at her.
The US can start selling cell phones to Iran. Relaxed sanctions will allow US companies to sell phones, software, and other technology related to personal communications to Iran. Why the about-face? Enabling Iranians to communicate better could mean a more democratic election next month.
We’ll have that back, Your Highness. A Spanish tourism business group has asked King Juan Carlos to give back a €21 million yacht the group previously gave him during the country’s recession in hopes of attracting more tourists.
Quartz obsession interlude
Simone Foxman on the misconception behind “too big to fail.” “The focus was never on the “big” part; it was on the “fail” part. Dodd-Frank—introduced in late 2009 and passed in 2010–was meant to create a path that would allow banks and other “systematically important” financial institutions of any size to fail—i.e., cease to exist in name—without causing permanent damage to the US financial system. And in fact, these very policies are most cumbersome for the very smallest banks, and encourage them to get bigger.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The pork drama has just begun. If the Chinese want to buy US meat giant Smithfield Foods, they’ll have other suitors to contend with.
The golden age of internet freedom is over. If people don’t stand up to government attempts to control cyberspace, that is.
But hate speech should be allowed on Facebook.
Nuclear energy isn’t as risky as you greenies were brought up to think it is.
Your cell phone has more computing power than all of NASA in 1969. Thanks to Moore’s Law.
An economist researching US gun culture couldn’t get government funding, so she turned to the internet.
And on that subject: Guns have killed more Americans since December than all the US troops killed since 2003 in Iraq.
A Chinese painter’s work is outselling that of Picasso.
The European Union has its own form of English. Here’s a list of all the mistakes it contains.