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What to watch for today
An Abe-compatible candidate to head Japan’s central bank. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has reportedly chosen Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda as its nominee to lead the Bank of Japan. Kuroda is considered a proponent of aggressive monetary easing, which Abe has pushed for in the hopes of stirring up economic growth.
Italians vote on Bersani, Beppo, Berlusconi. Polling in the two-day national parliamentary elections ends this afternoon, with a center-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani predicted to win narrowly. The outcome is hard to call, particularly in the upper house, as former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and one-time TV comic Beppe Grillo have pursued aggressively populist campaigns against austerity measures. At stake: plenty, including the danger of another dip in the euro.
Gadget-o-mania descends on Barcelona. Smartphone and tablet makers are unveiling new devices at the annual Mobile World Congress that kicked off today and runs to Thursday. Among them are Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0, which will go head-to-head with Apple’s super-popular iPad Mini. HP is launching a similar device, priced at a compelling $169.
British Petroleum on trial. The energy giant faces the start of a civil trial in New Orleans for damages related to the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. There’s talk of a possible $16 billion settlement.
Over the weekend
Raul Castro announced he is stepping down. In 2018, that is. Cuba’s president will complete his second term, which started this year, before handing power to his new first vice-president, Miguel Diaz-Canel. Meanwhile, South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, took office.
Firefox entered the crowded mobile operating system software market. Like Google’s Android, Firefox OS will be free. Like Chrome OS, it is actually a browser that’s cleverly disguised as an operating-system. Like Apple’s iOS—oh wait, it’s open and HTML5-based and nothing at all like iOS.
India will license more banks. Starting July 1, the Reserve Bank of India will accept bids for new banking licenses, with the Birla group and Anil Ambani’s Reliance expected to apply. Only about a dozen private banks operate in India and the sector is still dominated by state-controlled institutions.
Pope Benedict XVI gave his final Sunday blessing. Crowds gathered outside his window to hear the soon-to-be retiree’s last public benediction in office. Italian election analysts say the papal media frenzy has stolen attention from Berlusconi, slowing the former minister’s climb in election polls.
Hollywood celebrated itself. And Michelle Obama joined in, awarding the top Oscar award of best picture to “Argo.” Here’s how much those 13.5-inch tall, 8.5 pound, gold-plated statuettes are worth and why Oscar winners really only get to borrow them.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gideon Lichfield says downgrades don’t really matter–and here’s a guide to parsing coverage of the latest, Moody’s downgrade of the UK sovereign debt: “Downgrades are often meaningless, irrelevant or even downright misleading, and this one in particular. So why do they generate so many headlines?…downgrades are just too easy to write about. They sound bad, they contain something measurable, and they provide a quick headline. The measurability is especially key here: You can dispute what a measurement means or how much it matters, but not the measurement itself, which in this tendentious world, makes it easier than almost anything else for a journalist to report on.” Read more.
Matters of debate
We should miss the handmade. Dave Eggers muses on a world that’s “all keyboards and screens.”
It is time for the robots to be the good guys. IBM’s Watson plunges into healthcare – are we ready?
Language traps feminism. Is it about more than “having it all?”
Medical bills are terrible in more ways than you think. The US healthcare debate has let us forget one thing: who pays the bills?
A nine-year-old Oscar nominee receives a very strange goody-bag.
One Kenyan phone company’s mobile payment system touches 31% percent of the nation’s GDP.
Bulls can cry. And this one, in Hong Kong, wept to save its own life. But it’s getting harder to be a professional animal-lover. Veterinary school costs are sky-high, and the profession offers only low payoff.
A new battle over standards. This time it’s wireless charging.
What is it like to use Google Glass? ”Kind of awesome.”
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