Microsoft earnings, carmaker woes, Hershey’s meat bars

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The European Central Bank has some explaining to do. The ECB is unlikely to unveil additional stimulus measures after cutting its benchmark rate to zero last month. But president Mario Draghi will be keen to convince investors that the bank still has more cards to play if inflation and growth remain in the doldrums.

The British royals host Barack and Michelle Obama. Drones are banned from the UK capital while the US president and first lady are in town. The Obamas have a full schedule in London, including a press conference with prime minister David Cameron, lunch with Queen Elizabeth (it’s her 90th birthday!), and dinner with Will and Kate.

Dilma Rousseff travels to New York. Brazil’s embattled president will attend a UN signing ceremony for the Paris climate agreement in the midst of impeachment proceedings back home. While she’s traveling, vice president Michel Temer—whom Rousseff has accused of leading a coup against her—is in charge.   

Microsoft tries to maintain its momentum. The software company reports quarterly earnings amid a dramatic resurgence under CEO Satya Nadella. Analysts expect higher profits and revenues as cloud computing services offset weak PC sales.

While you were sleeping

The US Treasury shuffled its currency deck. Abolitionist icon Harriet Tubman will replace president Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill; founding father and Broadway icon Alexander Hamilton is staying on the $10 bill after all. The decision didn’t please everyone: Tubman’s $20 is still many years away.

Three men are facing jail time for Flint, Michigan’s water crisis. The city and state employees were accused of evidence tampering to hide the presence of lead in the water supply, among other criminal charges. Even tiny amounts of the metal can lower IQ and cause neurological problems in children.

Trading was halted in Mitsubishi Motors… The suspension came amid a flood of sell orders (paywall). Investors are fleeing the stock after the company admitted yesterday to falsifying fuel economy tests for 625,000 vehicles.

…while Volkswagen agreed to set aside $10 billion to resolve claims. The German carmaker will use the money to resolve civil claims by the US government and lawsuits by American car owners over diesel vehicles modified to cheat pollution controls, according to Bloomberg.

Quartz markets haiku

The foolish goat strains
to reach the sweet mountain grass
along the cliff’s edge

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on a satirical Instagram account on the dangers of voluntourism. ”Savior Barbie also highlights the point that advocates and experts working on the continent have been observing for years—well-intentioned but naive volunteerism.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Racial profiling of US muslims is the new normal. The recent Southwest Airlines incident is just the tip of the iceberg.

Megacities, not nations, are the world’s dominant social structures. By 2025, there will be at least 40 of them.

Saudi Arabia is wielding a $750 billion threat against America. It has threatened to divest all assets if a 9/11 lawsuit goes forward.

Surprising discoveries

A Chinese man went shopping with eight robot maids. They carried his belongings in an ostentatious display of wealth.

Fewer people eat chocolate, so Hershey’s is turning to meat jerkey. Flavors will include black cherry barbecue.

Researchers created a metal foam that pulverizes bullets. It works like bubble wrap, collapsing air pockets upon impact.

An angry mom is suing China’s state media giant Xinhua. She says it defamed her son Zeng Feiyang, a Chinese labor activist who’s been detained since early December.

London has $248 billion in underground gold. The sprawling vaults contain a fifth of all gold held by the world’s governments.

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