🌎 The spy in the sky

Plus: Elon Musk killed the good bots
🌎 The spy in the sky

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US suspects China is behind the surveillance balloon spotted over Montana. The military decided against shooting down the object to avoid falling debris.

Apple and Starbucks felt the impact of China’s zero-covid policy. The two US companies pointed to supply and demand woes in China in presenting their muted earnings.

Digital ads favored Amazon over Alphabet. The e-commerce giant’s advertising business grew, while a slowdown hurt Google’s parent company.

Ford reported a $2 billion loss for 2022. CEO Jim Farley expressed frustration at missed opportunities, and anticipated layoffs and more cost-cutting measures.

Billionaire Ryan Cohen is amassing a stake in Nordstrom. The activist investor seeks the removal of director Mark Tritton, the former chief of Bad Bath & Beyond, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Protests in Peru have cut off access to 2% of the world’s copper supply. Prices are expected to jump after the China-owned Las Bambas mine halted operations due to the continuous unrest.

A major textile factory in Haiti is closing down. The South Korean-owned S&H Global is laying off 3,500 workers in a blow to the crisis-ridden country’s economy.

What to watch for

A record 14 candidates are vying to become president of Cyprus. Incumbent president Nicos Anastasiades, who has led the country through a recovery following its bailout a decade ago, won’t be running again, but his presence looms large over the vote.

Key candidates include Nikos Christodoulides, who served in Anastasiades’s government before running as an independent backed by centrist parties. Anastasiades’s conservative ruling party is fielding its chief Averof Neofytou. The main opposition party is backing Andreas Mavroyiannis, a diplomat who headed the Cyprus peace talks under Anastasiades.

The 560,000-odd registered voters will head to the polls on Feb. 5. If no candidate wins 50% of the vote, which is likely, the top two will compete in a runoff vote a week later. The new president will immediately be under the scrutiny of credit agencies, looking to the next government to see whether their cautiously positive outlook for the country is justified. No pressure!

Elon Musk killed the good bots

Sure, no one likes persistent trolls and politically meddling bots. But what about earthquake alerts and serendipitous art?

Those types of Twitter bots may soon be defunct after the social media company ends its free programmatic access. Like most social media businesses, Twitter has long offered an API, which allows outside developers to write programs that use its platform. It’s how third-party apps like Hootsuite and tools like ThreadReader are able to operate, and how automated accounts function.

While unpaid access comes with limits and high-volume users are already charged, now anyone who wants to use the API will have to pay. The move is another attempt to increase Twitter’s revenue. However, it could ultimately have just the opposite effect, especially if it diminishes user experience.

Australia’s $5 bill bids adieu to the monarchy

If King Charles III had a 2023 bingo card with a square reading “become the next face of Australia’s $5 bill,” he’s fresh out of luck.

The Land Down Under decided the replacement for the late Queen Elizabeth II won’t be anyone from the British monarchy, even though it’s technically Australia’s head of state. Instead, the new banknote will honor Aboriginal peoples who have inhabited the territory for over 50,000 years. Hopefully it won’t take that many years for the new design to enter circulation.

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Surprising discoveries

A Bugatti sold for a lotti. The luxury carmarker’s last gas-powered car grabbed $10.7 million at auction.

New Mexico sniffed out a signature scent. Roasted green chillies may become the state’s official smell.

Visiting nonno e nonna is not mandatory. An Italian court ruled that kids can’t be forced to spend time with their grandparents.

Archeologists found some Mesopotamian pub food. But they probably didn’t taste the 5,000-year-old fish dish.

Human neurons can meld with rat brains. Apologies in advance for spoiling the plot of Ratatouille 2.

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