Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Google’s smartwatch, Europe’s growth, rhinos in peril, Foxbots

May 14, 2013
May 14, 2013

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Google skydivers with wearable computers. Today is Google’s annual developer conference. Last year, skydivers arrived at the event wearing Google Glass. This year? More Glass, and more games, and maybe a smartwatch.

Did Europe grow in Q1? We’ll see the first measure of this year’s economic growth in EU countries, even as Europeans develop divergent views of how economic integration has helped and hurt them.

Come on Iran, show us your nukes. The EU’s top diplomat, representing the coalition of the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, will meet with Iran’s nuclear negotiator in Turkey for another attempt at getting Tehran to allow inspectors into its nuclear labs.

While you were sleeping

Peak oil? Try every-day-of-the-week oil. The International Energy Agency released a five-year forecast for the oil industry. And American shale will save us all. Also, over-capacity could mean oil prices will start dropping.

Airbus has sold more planes than Boeing this year. After the botched roll-out of its rival’s 787 Dreamliner, the European firm’s airline sales are driving profits at its parent company, EADS.

Six more clothing companies agree to tougher safety standards… The deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh has given six more apparel makers the push they need to sign a pact agreeing to pay for safety renovations at their factories there.

…But American companies lag behind. WalMart has announced plans to inspect its factories, but neither it nor the Gap have embraced the push for higher standards, claiming they’re worried about spurious lawsuits.

The US will borrow $200 billion less than expected this year. Does this mean there will be a budget surplus in 2015?

Angelina Jolie revealed she had a double mastectomy. The American actress explained the reasons and called on all women to get checked for breast cancer in a moving editorial in the New York Times. Quartz’s Lauren Brown presents the counter-argument: 75% of women who had a double mastectomy didn’t need it.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the devastating results of Vietnam’s lust for rhinoceros horns. “A rhino-head heist spree swept Europe in 2011, as thieves raided museums and auctions houses in seven countries, prompting 30 investigations by Europol, 20 of which are ongoing. Similar heists have also beenon the rise in Africa, as well as in the odd American backwater town. Meanwhile, an online business thrives as well—including one dealer on Facebook who only accepts bitcoin.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Syria’s civil war is Iran’s Vietnam War. Iran is spending millions of dollars, and much of its credibility, to back the Syrian government against the rebels in a stalemate with no end in sight.

Austerity is a necessary condition for structural reform. The case for spending cuts and tax increases during a recession has come to this: There is no improvement without suffering.

Why Foxconn’s switch from human workers to “Foxbots” hasn’t gone well. Apparently, you still need some human judgment on the assembly line.

Surprising discoveries

Did the Russians plant goofy spy tools on the US diplomat they arrested? Experts say that Ryan Fogle might be a US spy, but that his toolkit—including a bizarre recruitment letter and a compass—doesn’t make any sense.

The Soviets cloned the US space shuttle. And tried to make it safer in the process.

The British are now poorer than the French, Swiss, Belgians, Swedes, Austrians, Aussies and Canadians. Tough break.

Google CEO Larry Page reveals why he lost his voice. A rare condition affecting his vocal cords makes him speak more hoarsely.

The average American’s personal information exists in over a dozen places online. And someone has worked out how to make money off of it. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spy tools and Foxbots to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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