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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—EU-China trade, Club Med, coffee prices

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

China and the EU try to smooth over a trade spat. They will hold informal talks over solar panels and telecoms equipment. The EU accuses China of “dumping” goods and plans to impose duties.

Syria: to sanction or not to sanction? EU leaders will meet to decide whether or not to ease an embargo on Syria. It’s a dilemma: Doing so could help channel weapons to rebels fighting president Bashar Assad, but might take the pressure off Assad himself.

Are the markets in for another shaky week? Japan’s Nikkei index fell over 3% on Monday.

Memorial Day in the US. Markets are closed.

Over the weekend

Club Mediterranee fielded a friendly takeover deal. The roughly $700 million offer for the French operator of Club Med resorts is from its management and two biggest shareholders, France’s Axa Private Equity and China’s Fosun International. The company has been looking to attract more Chinese vacationers.

The European Commission is probing Apple’s sales tactics. While no formal investigation has been launched, the EC is quietly responding to private complaints that Apple is using anti-competitive practices to boost sales of its latest iPhone.

Obama visited the debris field left by tornadoes in Oklahoma. He called the damage “hard to comprehend,” and offered condolences to the families of the 24 people who died and to those who lost their homes.

The Syrian conflict may be spreading. Two rockets landed in a Shi’ite area of Beirut controlled by Hezbollah, wounding four people. It’s not clear who fired them, but the attack could be in retaliation to Hezbollah’s announcement on Saturday that it would defend Syria’s president against rebels.

FARC rebels and the Colombian government might stop shooting each other. The two sides agreed on agrarian reform, including government investment in services and infrastructure, and some land for the poor. The details are still being worked out, but any agreement is a big step forward in the longstanding conflict.

Japan’s central-bank governor sided with the bulls. Haruhiko Kuroda sought to reassure investors in the wake of a sharp market fall late last week, saying the nation’s financial institutions had sufficient buffers to cope with rising interest rates and that the bank would watch out for signs of overheating or excessive risk-taking.

Barcelona scored big. Brazilian soccer star Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. will join FC Barcelona next month. The five-year deal will be reportedly be worth close to €60m ($78 million).

Better Place is going no place. One of the great hopes of electric-car startups is filing for liquidation, after its battery-switching concept failed to take off. The problem: It wasn’t enough like Tesla.

India’s PM visits Japan. Manmohan Singh traveled to Tokyo to sign infrastructure deals worth more $15 billion. Singh will also meet with his counterpart Shinzo Abe to revive talks on civilian nuclear energy co-operation, which has been bogged down since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why a big economic policy speech by Chinese premier Li Keqiang may offer less than it seems. “[T]hese proposals have been mooted for ages, with little to show for it. That’s in large part because meaningful reform hinges on freeing up the flow, allocation and pricing of capital. Though letting the market price capital might, for instance, raise deposit rates—a big boost to household wealth and, therefore, rebalancing—it could also mean less lending. And since the government’s use of lending as a policy tool is what’s keeping GDP growth above 7%, the economy would sputter.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The latest Steven Soderbergh drama was turned down by Hollywood because it was “too gay.” It’s on HBO instead.

Google Glass & privacy fearsLessons corporations must learn.

The G8 is getting serious about cracking down on tax avoidance. But will China play ball?

Do low wages for unskilled workers weaken the case for more immigration? Not really.

Autistic people don’t necessarily make great coders. What’s wrong with SAP’s latest hiring gimmick.

China too has drones. So now what?

Lists of powerful women are a bad idea. You really want Cristina Kirchner as a role model?

Surprising discoveries

54 loaded guns were seized at US airports last week. 19 had rounds chambered.

Amphibians are disappearing. They survived 350 million years, but aren’t evolving fast enough.

An anteater’s virgin birth. It’s called parthenogenesis, and among animals it’s not that uncommon.

Coffee is at its cheapest in three years. But your latte isn’t.

A new look Gmail? You might need to get ready for the second redesign of your Gmail account in just over a year.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gay drama manuscripts and amphibian sightings to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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