Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Russia sanctions, Underground strike, Toyota shakeup, health drinks

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What to watch for today

Broader US sanctions against Russia. The US plans to inflict travel bans, asset freezes, and other measures on companies and individuals close to president Vladimir Putin. Lenders Gazprombank and Vnesheconombank, and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin are among the likely targets.

A shakeup at Toyota’s US operations. The Japanese automaker plans to move its US sales headquarters from California to Texas. The move would be a blow to California, where Toyota’s Prius has been the top seller for two years.

A two-day strike by workers in London’s Underground. Barring a last-minute breakthrough, union rail workers are expected to walk out Monday evening UK time, bringing a subway system serving about three million commuters to a virtual standstill.

Francois Hollande meets with GE boss to talk Alstom. Jeff Immelt, General Electric’s CEO, will discuss with the French president its potential purchase of Alstom’s energy business. The state has no stake in Alstom but is examining options carefully, especially after competition for the company increased over the weekend.

Earnings for China Telecom. The company reported a 17% rise in net income for 2013, but most growth in the first quarter of 2014 is expected to be driven by broadband signups, rather than mobile customers.

Over the weekend

Siemens made a run at Alstom’s energy assets. Bloomberg reports that the German company offered some of its own transport businesses and cash in return for Alstom’s energy business, which represents more than 70% of Alstom sales. Siemens promised to match the financial offer GE made, and to keep jobs, too.

Obama made progress in Asia. The US president upgraded bilateral relations with Malaysia and secured a 10-year pact that would allow a larger US military presence in the Philippines. The president arrives at his final stop, the Philippines, from Malaysia today.

South Korean prime minister Chung Hong-won resigned. Chung said he was taking responsibility for government lapses in accident prevention, as well as mishandling of its early response to the sinking of the Sewol, on April 16.

The UK’s rising house prices began to spread. 48% of districts outside of London reported house price rises in April—the highest rate in a decade. Asking prices rose 0.6% in the month of April, and the same during March. Rising prices will likely boost consumer spending, but already there are fears of a property bubble (paywall).

Internet Explorer was exposed. The world’s most popular browser is being targeted by hackers, Microsoft said, who can remotely install software on users’ computers. Microsoft has started work on a fix, but most Windows XP users will not get one, as the company stopped updating XP software this year.

More than half a million people attended the historic double-papal canonization in Rome. Pope Francis proclaimed his predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints, calling them “men of courage” who “were not overwhelmed” by tragic events of the 20th century.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on whether US universities are choosing rich Chinese students over Asian Americans. American universities, especially elite schools, have been suspected of admitting a disproportionately low number of Asian-American students given their high test scores and academic performance. Over the past five to six years, these schools—faced with less private and public funding—have also started depending on international students who pay full tuition to pick up the bill. Read more here.

Matters of debate

Mathematicians should think twice before working for the NSA. They are ignoring the fact that their work is being used for ethically questionable purposes by the largest employer of mathematicians in the US, and maybe the world.

The finance industry should look to Canada for leadership. Canadians are better at raising their children to believe that it’s more important to be decent than to be rich—and finance needs that moral fiber more than extra regulation.

Social media isn’t driving television viewership. NBC Universal found (paywall) during the Olympics that a show’s ratings are more likely to determine online activity rather than vice versa.

Hillary Clinton has cracked the authenticity code. The presumptive US presidential candidate has showed she’s learned how to turn her Washington-insider status into an asset.

Nonstop, fleeting interactions are the future of humans’ usage of computers. We can look forward to sessions of 10 seconds each, a thousand times a day.

Surprising discoveries

Medical technology is an easy hack. Hospital gadgets have awful security defaults.

Movie studios can forge art legally. And they send their results to the artists themselves.

The office cubicle was designed to free you. It is a mistake of history that it became a symbol of monotony.

The average man 7,300 years ago was as fit as a teenage cross-country runner today. And cross-country running is one effective way for our enfeebled selves to regain some of their robustness.

Americans are drinking less soda and more coconut water. Sales by the top three players in the US market for the potassium-packed drink have risen nearly 600% since 2009.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, forged artworks, and coconut water to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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