Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Ukraine’s violent standoff, France’s deficit, China’s megalopolis, tetraquark discovered

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What to watch for today

Citigroup offers the latest bad news from banks. Net income is expected to fall (paywall) 5.3% to $3.6 billion, with revenue declines in several areas. JP Morgan and Wells Fargo reported weak results on Friday, and analysts aren’t expecting much cheer from the sector as a whole this earnings season.

Pakistan and the Taliban try talking again… Peace talks, which have been sporadic since Pakistan initiated them last May, are set to resume, according to a Taliban representative; Pakistan’s interior minister expects negotiations “over the next few days.”

…And so do India and China. The two countries’ foreign ministers get together to discuss trade and security issues in Beijing, the sixth in a long-running series of “strategic dialogues.”

Signs of a US shopping recovery. The commerce department releases March retail sales at 8:30am ET. A Bloomberg survey predicts some recovery from the winter’s slowdown, led by a rebound in car sales.

Over the weekend

Violence erupted in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian security forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russian militia occupying police headquarters in the town of Slavyansk. The US and western allies say some of the militiamen appear to be Russian special forces in unmarked uniforms (paywall).

France pledged better budget discipline. Finance minister Michel Sapin said France will adhere to EU-mandated targets of a budget deficit that is 3% of GDP, down from 4.3% in 2013.

China bought a huge copper mine. A Chinese consortium led by state-owned MMG agreed to buy the Las Bambas copper mine in Peru from Glencore Xstrata, for $5.8 billion. China’s government had insisted Glencore and Xstrata sell the mine to get antitrust approval for their merger.

Hopes of finding MH370 faded. Searchers think the batteries may have expired on the missing airliner’s black boxes; there have been no new pings since last week. Separately, investigators think the plane tried to dodge radar before it vanished.

Millions of Android devices have Heartbleed. The security bug affects phones and tablets with version 4.1.1 of Google’s mobile operating system, the company said. Blackberry also planned to release a security update for its mobile messaging service.

Facebook is targeting financial services. The social networking site is weeks away from gaining regulatory approval in Ireland that will allow users to store money and send funds to each other (paywall).

Bird flu broke out in Japan. Almost 300 chickens died and avian influenza was detected in their carcasses. The government has begun culling 112,000 chickens in Kumamoto prefecture.

Quartz obsession interlude 

Lily Kuo on China’s plan to create an urban area more populous than Germany. “The country’s top economic planner has reportedly drawn up a plan for a Beijing-centered “economic circle” (link in Chinese) that combines the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and parts of Hebei province into one huge megalopolis. Officials believe that integrating the three areas will help alleviate traffic, population, and housing pressure in Beijing, which is struggling with air pollution, water scarcity, and a flood of migrant workers.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Google is now a master lobbyist. The “don’t be evil” firm used to be disdainful of such behavior.

We’re living in a new Gilded Age… Thomas Piketty’s Capital In The Twenty-First Century makes it clear that today’s income disparities are a throwback to those of the 19th century.

…That uses working-class pensions to pamper the rich. Main Street dollars are financing the lifestyles of cosmopolitan yuppies.

Noah is more accurate than most children’s Bible stories. The movie doesn’t gloss over the Great Flood as a mass genocide.

There is big trouble in little China. Manhattan’s Chinatown restaurants been stuck in mediocrity for years.

Surprising discoveries

A new form of matter may have been discovered. Meet the tetraquark, which could have implications for our understanding of neutron stars.

Nude sunbathers of Munich, rejoice. The city has allocated six naturist-friendly zones.

Small plates are a big deal. The economics make sense for restaurants, partly because they make people have more fun when dining out.

Run the London Marathon from the gym. A virtual-reality setup lets you experience the entire course from the comfort of your own treadmill.

Your airline seat will soon know you scarily well. It will scan the data from your mobile phone and analyze your facial features.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, small-plate recipes, and marathon simulations to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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