Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Bird flu, Monsanto’s protection, CEO tweets, Hitler’s food-taster

April 2, 2013
April 2, 2013

What to watch for today

New cases of bird flu in China. The government announced four new cases of H7N9 flu late on Tuesday April 2, and global health watchers are nervous about deadly possibilities. Here’s what you need to know.

A second victory for Monsanto. The agricultural giant will look to beat expectations of $5.27 billion in revenue when it reports quarterly results today. A week ago US lawmakers created a legal safe harbor that will block lawsuits over any ill-effects from genetically modified seeds, at the request of the company’s lobbyists. Critics call it the “Monsanto Protection Act.” Shareholders might, too.

A Hollande Day in Morocco. French president François Hollande visits Morocco, his country’s largest trading partner. To the south, French soldiers remain engaged in Mali’s civil war.

An early peek at US employment. ADP, the payroll processing company, will release its employment numbers for March, a generally good guide to Friday’s official unemployment report from the US government.

While you were sleeping

The UN general assembly passed the first global arms trade treaty. The attempt to regulate the $70 billion business will now need to be ratified by 50 countries. The world’s number one arms exporter, the US, supported the treaty, but other weapons producers like China, Russia and Cuba abstained. Syria, Iran and North Korea voted against.

Europe lost patience with Google. Regulators in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany and Spain will all investigate and may fine the search company for refusing to modify its privacy policies.

US CEOs may now tweet their news. The Securities and Exchange Commission says executives won’t get penalized for disclosing significant information about their companies on Twitter and Facebook, as long as they let investors know ahead of time. Reed Hastings and Rupert Murdoch, consider yourselves warned.

Unemployment hit a record high of 12% in the euro zone. And it’s not going to get better soon, which doesn’t bode well for the economy’s broader prospects.

The most car sales in the US since 2007. Foreign and domestic brands move models, and economists see good news about US consumer spending and the housing recovery, which contributed to sales of new trucks and SUVs.

Fannie Mae boasted a record profit. Just five years after facing insolvency and being bailed out by the government, the US housing lender earned $17.2 billion in 2012. Some that money may return to taxpayers, but the bigger question is how to fix the system so it won’t need another rescue.

Tesla pulled a fast one. Having promised a “really exciting” announcement, the car-maker unveiled… a financing deal for its Model S electric sports sedan, involving some highly imaginative math to make the car look cheaper.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the history behind Ireland’s mortgage problems: “After all, modern Irish patriotism first coalesced as a revolt against unfair evictions during the so-called land wars of the late 1800s. The period gave Ireland some of its earliest and most enduring political heroes—Charles Stuart Parnell, Michael Davitt—and villains, such as Charles Boycott,  an unpopular, English-born magistrate and collector of rents from Irish tenant farmers. He gave his name, or rather he had it given for him, to the method of organized, non-violent shunning of which he was the subject until he was ultimately driven from the island. Ancient history? Perhaps. But the notion of the sanctity of the family home still carries considerable weight in Ireland.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

What is the Chinese dream? Xi Jingping will need to figure that out.

Cheap energy won’t save US jobs. Why can’t fracking solve all our problems?

Ben Bernanke should just give everyone money. Could a real helicopter drop solve all our problems?

The man behind “Web 2.0″ is a hustler. The problem with Tim O’Reilly’s “meme-engineering.”

Surprising discoveries

Climate change isn’t heating the planet as fast as we thought. But the news is not as reassuring as you may think.

Phablets, PadFones, Gigantophones…Is there a hardware solution for these lexicographic monstrosities?

There’s a 15-mile line to load soybeans on ships in Brazil. Or, infrastructure is important. 

Meet one of Hitler’s food tasters. It took 95-year old Margot Wolk a long time to enjoy food again.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, terrible tech portmanteaus or engineered memes to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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