Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Detroit’s bankruptcy, Obama’s Russia diss, Google’s earnings miss, snail facials

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What to watch for

Will Obama diss Russia? The US president may cancel a scheduled trip to meet with Vladimir Putin as relations between the countries come under increasing strain due to Edward Snowden’s long-term stay in the Moscow airport and the politically-tainted conviction of activist Alexei Navalny.

FIFA vs Brazil. The soccer governing body is due to unveil ticket prices for the 2014 World Cup. Many Brazilians are already incensed by the cost of the event, and FIFA isn’t helping matters by criticizing the protests that took place there earlier this month.

A new challenger in India’s smartphone market. China’s largest handset maker, ZTE, will start selling smartphones in the world’s third largest market for as low as 5,900 rupees ($100.)

US industrial earnings. General Electric is forecast to report a drop in its second-quarter profit but a strong sales order book going forward; rival Honeywell is also slated to announce its quarterly numbers.

G20 in Moscow. Finance ministers and central bankers are expected to tackle tax evasion and economic shakiness in developing markets.

While you were sleeping

Motor City bankruptcy. Detroit became the largest US municipality to file for Chapter 9 protection, after attempts to come to an arrangement with its many creditors, pensioners and unions failed. Here’s what happens next.

Moody’s raised its US outlook. The rating agency reaffirmed the country’s AAA rating and raised its outlook from negative to stable on the basis of sustained steady growth.

Technology giant misses. Google’s profits and sales increased around 16% from a year earlier but fell short of analyst estimates, as per-click rates fell due to the shift to mobile advertising. Sluggish PC sales and a $900 million write-down for the Surface tablet marred Microsoft’s performance, which may leave the company more vulnerable to pressure from activist shareholders.

Palestinian-Israeli pre-talks snagged. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal to restart negotiations took a hit after Palastinian officials demanded guarantees that Israel would agree on a general border for a two-state solution.

Alexei Navalny may be released pending appeal. The Russian politician and activitst was given a five year sentence on Thursday on theft charges widely believed to be politically motivated. Hours later, his prosecutors asked that he be freed while his appeal goes through.

The pitch dropped. In an experiment over 69 years in the making, scientists proved that tar pitch—which if you hammer it, shatters like glass—has liquid properties. Drops happen about once every decade, and until today, they had never been directly observed.

Quartz obsession interlude

Rachel Feltman on cheaper versions of popular smartphones: ”For smartphone consumers who are deterred from the more expensive upgrades offered for their high-end phones, Mini models could offer a cheaper enticement to keep upgrading. If that happens, mid-level smartphone devices with cheaper bodies would make a lot of sense. After all, do we need our phone bodies to last for more than a year if we’re going to upgrade them every six months?” Read more here

Matters of debate

The North Koreans are actually expert gunrunners. Don’t be fooled by the Panama incident—it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

China is hitting an economic Great Wall. The root of the problem is that it has begun to run out of surplus peasants.

Heathrow should be shut down. That’s the view of London mayor Boris Johnson; the airport’s managers just want to build a third runway.

It’s OK to fire employees by text message. As texting becomes more acceptable as a way to communicate with employees, more employers are using it to deliver bad news.

Surprising discoveries

The CIA copied James Bond. Writer Ian Fleming had a direct influence on the agency’s gadgets.

The haunting tune of global warming. What it sounds like when temperature data is converted into music.

Surfing the DMZ. Catching a wave between guard towers and barbed wire is becoming a popular past-time.

Snail facials in Tokyo. Their mucus is good for the skin; treatments cost $100 for five minutes.

The US Air Force learned a trick from geese. Flying planes in a V formation could save millions of dollars.

A Japanese woman is suing the yakuza. She wants her protection money back.

Hunting licenses to shoot down drones. A Colorado town’s anti-surveillance proposal would pay a $100 per drone bounty.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, snail facial coupons and pictures of Kim Jong-un surfing to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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