Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Bo Xilai charged, UK economy picking up speed, Arctic methane time bomb

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What to watch for today

Human rights cloud over US-Vietnam talks. The nations’ leaders will discuss closer economic and military ties amid questions about Vietnamese human rights abuses. President Truong Tan Sang has dismissed US concerns.

One-click earnings. As usual, Amazon’s profits will be a sideshow; not so much revenue growth, which has slowed for seven straight quarters. Gross profit margins, which don’t reflect Jeff Bezos’ enthusiasm for investing for future growth, will also be in the spotlight.

Planes and automobiles: United Continental Holdings is likely to report muted earnings as it struggles to put the challenges of the 2010 merger behind it. Meanwhile, General Motors’ earnings are expected to be weak as the car marker was in the midst of overhauling its product line in the second quarter. 

While you were sleeping

China indicted Bo Xilai. The disgraced former Chongqing party chief has been officially charged by Chinese authorities with bribery, corruption and abuse of power, and is expected to face trial in August. His wife was convicted last year for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The UK’s economy is picking up. Second quarter GDP grew 0.6%—double the growth in the first quarter—as all major sectors of the economy expanded, led by services.

Rail crash toll climbs. At least 77 people were killed and over a hundred injured just outside the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. Authorities do not believe at this stage that foul play was involved.

Spanish unemployment fell for the first time in two years. The jobless number fell to 26.3% in the second quarter, down from 27.2%, indicating a slight improvement in the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.

South Korea’s economy grew, and bidding reopened on a $7.4 billion defense deal. GDP rose 2.3% from a year earlier, the fastest pace in in more than two years. The country will also hold a new round of bidding for 60 fighter jets, its biggest-ever defense import deal.

Credit Suisse’s restructuring is paying off. Switzerland’s number two bank posted a 33% jump in second quarter profit and more than doubled earnings, showing a robust rebound from its cost-cutting reforms.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on why Apple’s Indian dream remains a fantasy. “In the second half of last year, Apple signed deals with new distribution partners in India, released the iPhone 5, and launched an aggressive campaign featuring zero-interest financing. As a a result, sales jumped from about 4% of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012 to nearly 16% in the fourth quarter. Yet that cloaks what is actually a lukewarm performance in—it bears repeating—the world’s third-largest smartphone market.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

All we can do for Syria now is donate to the relief effort. The politics of intervention are blocked.

Iraq was America’s best-run war. But that doesn’t make it a model.

The biggest threat to national security is the thumb drive. Both for leaking data and importing viruses.

Banks are like children. China’s central bank used to spoil them rotten, doling out money to overextended lenders, but the party’s over.

Old fashioned regulators miss what’s new in finance. Much less has been done since 2008 to protect against another crisis than you think.

We live in a lucky-take-all society. Happenstance is a major determining factor in almost everything we do.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists know what’s causing the beepocalypse. It’s complicated, but yes, pesticides are partly to blame.

Google Adwords or Sherlock Holmes? Google helped uncover a prolific Chinese used-car scam.

The Arctic is a methane time bomb. It could cost the world $60 trillion—roughly the size of the current global economy.

Cat lovers rejoice. New research has identified how cat allergies are triggered in the body, paving the way for suppression treatments.

23 and 69 are the happiest ages. Life’s a roller-coaster.

Slang is not as new as you think it is. “Unfriend” dates back to 1659, “hang out” to the 1840s, and “outtasight” to the early 1890s.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Chinese scam discoveries and old slang expressions to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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