Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Tensions in Tunisia, HSBC earnings, boost for Apple, the human brain’s GPS

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Trouble in Tunisia. Tensions are rising after the police shot dead an Islamist militant and a soldier was killed in a blast near the Algerian border. Competing rallies over the weekend, by the supporters of the moderate-Islamist government and the secular opposition, has also raised concerns over the growing political crisis.

Services sector gaining strength. Service industries, which account for almost 90% of the US economy, are forecast to have expanded at a faster pace in July than in June, due to improvements in the jobs market and the rebound in the housing industry. Service sector Purchasing Managers’ Index data from China and the Eurozone will also be closely watched.

HSBC on the mend. First-half earnings are expected to have risen 13% due to a reduction in losses from its US operations. The bank has been selling assets in the US to focus on more profitable markets.

India’s parliamentarians get down to business. The agenda for the monsoon session of parliament that gets underway includes an ambitious $21 billion food security ordinance and the creation of India’s 29th state. The government is also likely to push for key reforms including the opening up of the insurance sector to foreign investment.

Over the weekend

Hasan Rouhani sworn in as Iran’s president. The moderate cleric who won a landslide victory in the June 14 elections called on the West to abandon the “language of sanctions” in dealing with his country. The US responded saying that it would be a “willing partner” if Iran engages seriously on the international concern over its nuclear program.

Obama administration came to Apple’s rescue. The White House overturned the International Trade Commission’s ban on the import and sale of some iPhones and iPads, handing Apple a significant victory in the patent battle with South Korea’s Samsung. This is the first time a US administration has overturned the federal commission’s ban since 1987.

Fire sale of two US publications grabbed headlines. The New York Times Company sold the Boston Globe to John Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. The Globe was sold for $70 million, a fraction of the $1.1 billion New York Times paid for it 20 years ago. IAC/InterActive Corp agreed to sell Newsweek to IBT Media, the publisher of the International Business Times website. The deal comes less than a year after Newsweek’s print edition was stopped and the iconic magazine was relaunched as a digital-only publication.

China banned the import of milk powder from New Zealand. The move came after New Zealand’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra, found in some of its products a strain of bacteria that can cause botulism. The ban could trigger a shortage of dairy products in China as it depends on New Zealand for almost 90% of its milk powder imports.

A contested verdict in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe won his seventh term as the president of Zimbabwe, winning 61% of the vote. But the US and UK expressed concern over the verdict after the challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, denounced the voting, saying it had been rigged.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on why Google must come to grips with how it enables the surveillance state. “Google, more than perhaps any other company, is aggressively putting sensors and the software to activate them into our environment. The just-unveiled Moto X phone from Google subsidiary Motorola has a custom microchip that allows it to listen for voice commands literally all the time, even when the phone is “asleep”. Google’s Chrome web browser now supports voice commands; that means it’s also rolled into every Chrome OS notebook computer, which run Google’s answer to Windows. Google’s face-based computer, Google Glass, responds to voice commands. Even though it was Apple that took voice control mainstream with the Siri system on its iPhone, voice is a dominant theme in the future of Google, and is clearly slated to make its way into every product the company makes.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Management lessons from Real Madrid. Focus on building a balanced team, and not acquiring individual superstars.

The $7 trillion in forex reserves are complicating economic policy making in Asia. It’s time to consider ways to bring more of those funds home.

There is hope for the Middle East. The turmoil is bringing the fundamental problems of the region to the surface in a way that allows them to be confronted and overcome.

Millionaire teachers and a bidding war for education. Lessons the world must learn from South Korea’s rise as an academic superpower.

Surprising discoveries

The human brain has a GPS. Scientists identify the cell grid that helps people to keep track of their location while navigating unfamiliar environment.

Nice guys finish first (in the long run.) A study suggests that cooperation is actually the best overall evolutionary tactic.

Mama’s bambinos. Men are increasingly less willing to leave their parents’ homes than women.

Bling saves lives. Combination of gold and diamond particles could measure temperature of individual cells and lead to a more accurate way to kill cancers.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and odes to teachers who deserve to be millionaires to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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