Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Apple vs. Samsung, China inflation, double whammy for Greece, recycling bins that follow you

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What to watch for today

The smartphone patent war rages on. The US International Trade Commission could ban the import of four smartphones from Samsung, as part of its ruling on whether the South Korean electrics giant infringed on four Apple patents. The ruling will follow US president Barack Obama overturning of the commission’s Apple import ban.

A deluge of Chinese data. Consumer inflation likely quickened to 2.8% last month from 2.7% in June, while growth in industrial output may remain unchanged at 8.9%. Retail sales are expected to have inched up, but urban fixed investment growth may have fallen. Wednesday’s trade data showed a surprisingly strong rebound in exports and imports.

All eyes on France. After Germany’s industrial output outperformed on Wednesday, the next question mark is France. Output from Europe’s second largest economy is expected have risen by 0.1% in June, after falling 0.4% in May.

The US vs. Russia. Two days after US president Obama cancelled his summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet their counterparts from Russia. Contentious issues on the agenda include Russia’s asylum offer for Edward Snowden, the countdown in Syria and Iran’s nuclear program.

While you were sleeping

Actually, the NSA isn’t just tracking suspicious people. The US National Security Agency is reportedly searching messages to and from the US, to identify people who mention foreigners that are under surveillance, rather than just the communications of targeted individuals.

Musical chairs at JC Penney. The struggling department store chain is reportedly looking for a new chief executive to replace interim CEO Myron Ullman, who took office just four months ago. Ullman was uprooted from retirement to replace former Apple executive Ron Johnson, whose decision to simplify pricing resulted in plummeting sales last year.

Brazil played hardball over Greece’s bailout. Brazil is skeptical of the International Monetary Fund’s (paywall) rescue program, amid a surge in Greek unemployment, which hit a record high of 27.6% in May.

A mixed earnings scorecard. Fannie Mae’s profits more than doubled to $10.1 billion, boosted by the US housing market recovery. The world’s second largest mining firm, Rio Tinto, reported a sharp fall in earnings due to declining commodity prices. Nestle reported tepid earnings growth as global consumers thanks to the consumer crunch.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why China’s crazy love affair with steel is an example of how its finances could implode. “Some think this means the economy is stabilizing; “steel demand is quite strong” (paywall), Maquarie analyst Graeme Train said. But it’s weird, because China’s businesses really don’t need new steel. It’s so hard to find buyers that steel mills are now storing 225,000 tonnes of steel, up 1.8% from last year. By one estimate the industry has a fifth more production capacity than it needs. And of China’s major steel mills, 40 out of 86 operated at a loss in H1 2013.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China must go local. Fiscal and financial decentralization is what China needs to keep its economy on track.

Your computer might be lying to you. Algorithms can swap incorrect number images into a document to fill in blanks where it doesn’t have good data.

Kick off your shoes and work a while. Going shoeless at work could make you less stressed and more productive.

When fiction is more real than reality. The hit TV show “Breaking Bad” conveys the reality of the drug trade better than US drug policy.

BRICS need greater economic integration. It’s the only way to overcome their deep-seated differences.

Surprising discoveries

Recycling bins that stalk you. Recycling bins in London are monitoring the phones of passers-by, to help companies target their ads.

Too much of a good thing. The cycling boom is causing traffic jams and parking shortages in Holland and Denmark.

The persuasive power of “Like.” Study shows that a positive nudge for items posted on social media can set off a flurry of approval, but negative reactions do not spur others to dislike the item.

Making flying fun (or not.) Certain Virgin Airways flights will feature live stand-up comedy. But being trapped in-flight with up-and-coming comedians could also be terrible.

Don’t believe everything you read, China. Chinese state media was fooled by a satirical story on the Washington Post’s sale.

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