Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Sushi diplomacy, Russia’s threats, Apple’s surprise, robot milkmaids

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What to watch for today

Obama meets Abe. The US president sits down to talk turkey with the Japanese prime minister after they broke the ice last night over sushi. Obama assured Japan the US would back it in a territorial dispute with China, but his hopes of closing the deal on a Pacific free-trade pact may be for naught.

The first earnings report from Microsoft’s new CEO. Satya Nadella, who took over after a long and tortuous leadership search, has a chance to burnish his image with good news from the company’s push into cloud computing.

An uneasy compromise on net neutrality. US telecom regulators are set to announce (paywall) new rules that would let internet providers charge websites preferential rates for faster access (much as Comcast charges Netflix today) but not slow sites down. Advocates of net neutrality (i.e., equal treatment for all sites) think it’s a sell-out.

Investors perk up over their Starbucks. The coffee chain’s push into Asia—and a smart call on advance coffee bean orders—have shareholders expecting caffeinated returns when the company announces earnings today.

While you were sleeping

Russia hinted at war in Ukraine. As Ukraine’s new government works to retake buildings in the east from pro-Russia militias, Russia’s foreign minister compared the situation there to events preceding his country’s 2008 invasion of Georgia.

Apple beat the heat but will split its stock. Apple defied expectations that sales would slow, announced a 4.6% increase in revenue in the first quarter (thanks to its world-beating iPhones; iPad sales declined even more than expected). It also announced a seven-for-one stock split to make its stock a cheaper buy for retail investors.

Facebook notched one billion active mobile users. Shares rose after the social media site posted growing year-over-year earnings and ad revenue, though results dipped from last quarter.

Signs of a skewed US housing market. New home sales fell 13% in March, the fastest rate since 2011, but strangely, prices continue to rise. Inequality is likely part of the story.

Amazon snagged HBO’s lucrative streaming library. The cable network’s popular shows will be available as part of Amazon’s Prime program, putting immediate pressure on Netflix.

The PLO and Hamas reunited. The competing Palestinian factions came together after seven years of discord, offering a united Palestinian government but intensifying the crisis in peace talks with Israel.

Quartz obsession interlude

Christopher Mims on the impending limits to Apple’s growth. “It is, literally, the end of an era—financially, the biggest bull run of any technology company in history, from $13.931 billion in revenue in 2005 to $170.910 billion in 2013. Apple is still the most valuable public company in the world, a bet by investors that Apple will continue to grow—and it has, until now. What’s interesting isn’t that Apple has plateaued—the markets already knocked $45 billion off of Apple’s valuation when the company announced its revenue projections for this past quarter three months ago—but why.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Could a world government work? Albert Einstein thought it could.

The discovery of habitable planets is not good news for humans. The fact that we haven’t had messages from other civilizations might mean civilizations tend to self-destruct.

Overfishing could be causing piracy. Though they’re declining elsewhere in the world, violent attacks are up in crucial East Asian shipping corridors, where dwindling fish stocks are making fishermen desperate.

Buying a house may be a better investment than buying stock. On the magic of government subsidies.

What every company should learn from Manchester United’s succession saga. Step 1: Don’t set up an ossified cult around a long-serving boss.

Surprising discoveries

Now, robots are milking cows. And the cows like it.

We know where all the world’s young and rich people live. By looking at customer usage maps from Uber.

Your car could become a mobile telecom tower. But no texting and driving, please.

An anti-shark wetsuit with killer style. A way for surfers to appear much less delicious.

Up to 27% of America’s imported tuna is contraband. Those last two bites of your spicy tuna roll are contributing to over-fishing.

A decent in-flight movie screen costs $10,000. Onerous safety rules make the electronics exorbitantly expensive.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robot milk, and above-board tuna to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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