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Quartz Daily Brief—Egypt’s showdown, gloom in the euro zone, the metaphysics of head transplants

By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

High noon in Egypt. The 48-hour deadline that the country’s generals gave president Mohamed Morsi to reconcile with protesters runs out today. Morsi is standing defiant; the army says it will defend Egypt from “any terrorist, radical or fool.” At least 16 people died and 200 were injured in clashes at Cairo University between Morsi supporters and security forces.

Dark clouds over the euro zone. June retail sales, services and manufacturing PMI are due. Meanwhile, Greece and Portugal are vying to be the euro zone’s crisis countries of the week—Portugal lost its foreign and finance ministers, and Greece is facing an imminent deadline to fulfill the promises it made to secure its bailout.

The US shuts down early. The stock market will close at 1 pm ET ahead of the July 4 holiday. Before that, the ADP employment report for June and initial weekly jobless claims for last week will be released, as well as trade data for May.

A sentencing on Olympus. Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, former chairman of Olympus, will be sentenced in an accounting fraud case. The electronics firm hid investment losses for years and used acquisitions to clean up its books.

While you were sleeping

Snowden paranoia. The Bolivian president’s flight from Moscow—rumored to have Edward Snowden aboard—was denied the right to fly over France and Portugal. The plane landed in Vienna, and Bolivia’s foreign minister denied the accusations. Meanwhile, Snowden’s multitude of asylum requests have been largely refused.

HSBC turns the page. A US federal judge approved HSBC’s $1.92 billion settlement for breaking money laundering laws and flouting sanctions, which was widely criticized because it included no criminal charges.

Obamacare in doubt. The US government announced that it would delay a measure to enforce nationwide workplace healthcare coverage by an extra year, until 2015, to give employers more time to prepare. While it won’t be a big deal for healthcare, it could be a big deal for health reform.

China’s services sector is flagging. HSBC/Markit’s services index showed that the sector expanded in June, but new orders hit a 55-month low and business confidence hasn’t been this low since 2005.

Apple and Time Warner Cable try to strike a deal. Apple is hoping to get its first cable company on board to provide content for its much anticipated Apple TV. An agreement is expected within the next few months.

A downgrade hat-trick. Standard & Poor’s cut its credit ratings for Barclays, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, citing risks from global markets, tighter regulation and increased litigation risks.

Yahoo! continues its shopping spree. The company said it would buy Qwiki Inc, a company that makes an Apple iPhone video app, for around $50 million—its third acquisition since May.

US automakers raced ahead. Surge in pick-up sales and strong demand by fleet buyers pushed US car sales in June to a five-year high.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on how to understand the protests shaking Egypt, Brazil, and Turkey—and what comes next. ”We are watching ‘the summer of middle class discontent’ … A key factor in all the countries involved is the emergence of an educated and aspirational middle class.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Four day weeks are more productive. Employees work harder and get more done, even with one day less.

How the US lost Egypt. Though it advocates democracy, Egyptians see it as the ally of dictators.

Whose head is it anyway? The prospects of head transplants raise a whole new twist on the old mind-body problem.

EU farming subsidies don’t help poor farmers. They’re a blatant transfer of cash to the rich.

Surprising discoveries

The US State Department spent $630,000 Facebook likes. It didn’t really work.

The worst IT screw-up ever. A Chinese technician accidentally left his computer connected to a giant electronic billboard while watching porn.

Malls for free! Rising vacancies are forcing Chinese landlords to forgo rent and even pay retailers to outfit stores.

Robots to the rescue. Magnet-guided nanorobots can revolutionize eye surgeries.

More robots to the rescue. Tiny flying robots could substitute for bees to pollinate crops.

“Popeye power” debunked. A misplaced decimal point created the legend around spinach’s nutritional value.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, IT horror stories and helpful robots to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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