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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Snowden’s escape route, timing the Fed taper, China relents on credit crunch

What to watch for today

Escape from Hong Kong? A businessman connected to Wikileaks claims to have a private jet on stand-by, ready to fly Edward Snowden to Iceland, which has said that the NSA leaker must be on its soil in order to apply for asylum.

Timing the taper. Global markets bounced back slightly from their Bernanke-inspired tumbles, with attention on the timing of the end of the Fed’s quantitative easing program. Economists polled by Bloomberg expect monthly bond purchases to begin declining in September and end altogether a year from now.

Brazil’s numbers better be good. Brazil will release its inflation data as violent protests against the government brought millions of people into the streets in more than 100 cities. In Canada, costlier gasoline is expected to push the consumer price index up by 0.9 to 1%.

A Midsummer Night’s Google Hangout. On the summer solstice, the Royal Shakespeare Company begins its three-day, interactive production of the bard’s most beloved play. You can follow along or take part on Google+.

While you were sleeping

China relents on liquidity. The People’s Bank of China finally added 50 billion yuan ($8.2 billion) to the financial system, easing sky-high interbank lending rates. Why did it intentionally engineer a credit crisis? Probably to crack down on risky financial speculation.

Kuroda kept his powder dry. Bank of Japan governor Hiroki Kuroda said that financial markets would stabilize over time as Japan’s economy improved, promising only that the BoJ would “make policy adjustments as needed.”

Tesla’s robotic refuelers. Elon Musk unveiled automated battery-switching robots that will be installed at Tesla’s roadside supercharging stations, capable of swapping in a fresh battery in about 90 seconds.

Cloak-and-dagger at NYU. Chinese dissident Cheng Guangcheng was allegedly given an iPad and a smartphone loaded with surveillance spyware when he arrived in the United States. Even weirder, he reportedly got the gadgets from his biggest supporter.

Indonesia told Singapore to stop whining about the life-threatening haze of pollution caused by crop fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on how exporting higher education is the next phase of China’s global soft power push. China’s Soochow University, based in the eastern city of Suzhou, is raising money to build a satellite campus in Laos where it will enroll around 5,000 students. Other Chinese universities have announced plans for campuses in Malaysia and in the UK. Read more here. 

Plus: A midsummer day’s chart bonanza. The cost of everything in the world, the global trade in bull semen, what metadata reveals about us, the relationship between violence and foreign investment, and more: Quartz staffers chose their favorite charts of the first half of 2013.

Matters of debate

Men over 40 should think twice about triathlons. The grueling slog to the finish line could be their last.

Supreme Court vs. the little guy. The top US court consistently favors big business over consumers.

The signal and the noise. The debate about inequality must keep up with the times.

Social mobility. Sao Paulo residents’ choice of smartphone tells you all you need to know about wealth distribution.

The rise of sectarianism. Ordinary social connections, a basis for democracy, are breaking down in Arab countries.

Surprising discoveries

Quote of the Day. “There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat.”—Chinese rioters, angry at a government crackdown on cheating during the infamously difficult “gaokao” university entrance exam.

A higher plane of existence. Scientists have discovered bacteria living at 33,000 feet.

Don’t forget to wave. NASA will take a detailed photo of Saturn in July. In the background, about the size of one pixel, will be Earth.

A pyramid of beef. A Japanese company perpetrated a $4.34 billion fraud using fake wagyu cows. 

Fines from the fashion police. Wear too silly a hat at the horse-racing gala Royal Ascot, and you’ll have to pay up.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stratospheric bacteria and rejected Royal Ascot hats to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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