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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Egypt’s new leader, Syria’s opposition, Bolivia’s indignation, Silicon Valley wages

By Jake Maxwell Watts
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Syrian rebel opposition groups try to find a leader. As civil war rages across Syria, the fractious Syrian National Coalition is meeting to name a new leader and win the trust of western and Arabic governments. If agreement can be found, the group hopes to prove itself worthy of foreign arms.

Status quo on interest rates. The European Central Bank is expected to hold its policy rate unchanged at a record low of 0.5%. The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee is also expected to hold.

First criminal case on Libor opens. Tom Hayes, the former UBS and Citigroup derivatives trader accused of manipulating the benchmark interest rate, will appear in a London court. He may decide to indicate a plea. Hayes is charged with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud.

US celebrates independence day. And Chinese fireworks manufacturers will celebrate too.

While you were sleeping

Egypt’s new leader was sworn in. Adly Mansour, the head of Egypt’s constitutional court, was sworn in on Thursday as interim president in the aftermath of a military takeover that ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Here’s what we know about Mansour.

Campaigning kicked off in Japan. Prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner are fighting to win control of Japan’s upper house in elections on July 21. If they win a majority as expected, they would have a majority in both houses, easing the passage of legislation.

Nestle and Danone caved. A Chinese anti-trust probe into several baby formula companies has prompted the two companies to cut prices by as much as 20%. The multi-billion dollar industry is particularly big in China, but foreign companies still dominate since a fatal safety scandal involving domestic Chinese products in 2008 killed six babies.

Shanghai’s free trade zone was approved. The city won formal approval from China’s leaders to turn itself into a mainland free trade zone that supporters hope will one day rival Hong Kong. The designated area will undergo financial liberalization, and market itself as a preferential zone for importers and exporters.

Tensions between Japan and China flared again. This time over China building a natural gas drilling rig in contested waters and Japan’s prime minister refusing to say whether he believed Japan invaded China during the Second World War.

Ecuador said its London embassy was bugged. The hidden microphone technicians found seems to have been meant for listening to the ambassador’s conversations, rather than spying on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is sheltering there in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Bolivia rejected an extradition request for Snowden. The country has become embroiled in an argument with the US after its president, Evo Morales, was re-routed to Vienna on a flight from Moscow because of suspicions that US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden was on the aircraft. Austrian authorities said he wasn’t, and Bolivia called the extradition request “strange, illegal, unfounded.”

South Korea proposed new talks with the North. Just three weeks after the last attempt failed, South Korea wants to try to persuade its troublesome neighbor to re-open a jointly operated factory park at the Kaesong industrial zone.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how “flag-hopping” enables a multibillion-dollar illegal fishing trade. “More formally known as using ‘flags of convenience’ (FOC), the practice of flag-hopping involves Country A allowing a vessel from Country B to sail under Country A’s flag, for reasons explained further below. Flag-hopping is a time-honored way of slashing operating costs and dodging taxes and home-country regulations, but the practice has picked up in recent years in part because of overfishing. Flag-hopping vessels bring in roughly 15% of global fishing industry earnings each year […] Because FOC vessels seldom report their catches to the country whose flag they’re sailing, they can exceed fishing quotas without restrictions.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Winklevoss twins’ bitcoin SEC filing is really silly. They just won’t get approval.

Morsi’s downfall was the result of unemployment. But a coup won’t help create jobs.

Abe’s “fourth arrow” should be delayed. Tax increases are due in Japan next year, but that’s too soon.

Hillary Clinton has a problem with age. She’s not too old to campaign for US president—her potential advisors are.

The secret to M&A success. Spurn suitors initially, and wait for them to increase their bids.

You won’t be in any doubt about global warming after looking at this chart. Says it all, really.

Surprising discoveries

A new English word in German dictionaries: ”shitstorm.” The term is used by Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others, to denote “a public outcry.”

Overfilled kettles are expensive. Over $100 million is wasted each year in the UK alone on water and energy costs.

HIV cured? Scientists don’t want to use the word yet, but two men who had bone marrow transplants now show no sign of the virus.

The average Silicon Valley wage more than doubled in one quarter. And it was all because of Facebook’s IPO.

China opened the world’s largest building. It’s four times as big as Vatican City and has an artificial sun.

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