Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Egypt’s emergency, US shoppers, piano sales, near-death experiences

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What to watch for today

Will Egypt subside or explode? As Wednesday came to an end the official death toll in clashes in Egypt stood at 278, with the real one possibly higher, as security forces crushed two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo and shot dead scores of supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi. Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei resigned as interim vice-president.

The pulse of US shoppers. Walmart is expected to improve its performance from the previous quarter, but investors will focus on what the retailer has to say about the mindset of its low-income consumers. Earnings from department store chain Kohl’s and fashion retailer Nordstrom will also be closely watched in the light of disappointing numbers from Macy’s.

US inflation slows. Consumer prices are expected to have climbed just 0.2% in July after a 0.5% gain in May. The producer price index for July released on Wednesday came in at 0.1%, well below the Fed’s target (paywall). It all adds to the debate on when the Fed will start to scale back asset purchases.

Kenya eyes new markets in the east. President Uhuru Kenyatta will begin his state visit to Russia and China, in search of deals for exports such as coffee and tea. Also on the agenda: oil, gas and minerals, after Kenya introduced new laws last week to retain a larger share of its natural resources.

While you were sleeping

Charges against the JP Morgan two. US prosecutors filed criminal charges against two former employees at the bank for allegedly trying to cover last year’s $6.2 billion trading loss. But do such actions solve too-big-to-jail?

Europe’s recession ended. The 17-country euro area grew 0.3% in the April to June period, ending the longest recession since World War II. France and Germany set the tone earlier in the day, both reporting better than expected economic growth—0.7% in Germany and 0.5% in France.

India turned the clock back on two decades of reforms. Late yesterday the central bank ushered in capital controls, limiting overseas direct investments by Indians as part of its efforts to shore up the rupee. The bank also tightened the curbs on gold imports because of a record current-account deficit.

The piano people went private. Steinway Musical Instruments, the Us firm famous for its grand pianos, agreed to a $512 million buyout offer from hedge fund Paulson & Co. The $40 per share in cash trumped an earlier deal with Kohlberg & Company. Here’s how the pianos are made.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on why China’s arms industry is hoping for some good PR from Syrian rebels. “Arms dealing is a competitive business, and brand name recognition matters—just look at the AK-47. China is supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war, but that inconvenient fact hasn’t stopped its arms industry from hoping that Assad’s opponents can give Chinese weapons a little bit of a profile boost. Sadly for the manufacturers, the publicity might not be all that positive.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

America already has too few airlines. The US antitrust action against the American/US Airways merger is too late for consumers.

There’s a glass ceiling for locals in Asia. Multinational companies still rely on expatriates to fill top jobs (paywall).

Detroit’s pension system is built on delusions. Expectations of 8% future returns are too optimistic.

Denmark should not be buying windmills. The heavily subsidized wind farms are uneconomical and will spur coal use in other EU countries.

Surprising discoveries

Chinese patients are clamoring to get stung. Bee sting acupuncture is the latest health fad.

What’s killing the bees? Possibly your garden. Plants bought from US nurseries are contaminated with pesticides lethal to bees.

Expect no privacy on Gmail. Google admitted in a court filing that users should have no ”reasonable expectation” that their emails are confidential.

Explaining near-death experiences—perhaps. In rats, there’s a surge of brain activity for 30 seconds after clinical death.

Keep texting with no battery. A new trick for harvesting radio waves from the air could power a phone to send simple messages.

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