Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Ukraine’s separatist victory, Barclays’ Qatar probe, China’s waste protests, Putin on ice

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What to watch for today

The last day of voting kicks off in India. More than 90% of the country has already voted, but that doesn’t mean a BJP victory is secure. India’s exit polls have a history of getting it wrong—the results won’t be out until May 16—and it’s possible that a coalition government will have to be forged.

Detroit’s bankruptcy vote begins. The city’s 170,000 creditors will receive information about its plan to eliminate $18 billion of debt and reinvest $1.4 billion in services over the next decade. Creditors have two months to return their ballots.

How will Goodluck Jonathan respond to Boko Haram? Pressure is mounting on the Nigerian president (paywall) to mount an effective attack on the militant Islamists who abducted some 200 schoolgirls.

The TV industry gets a check-up. It’s “upfronts” week, when US networks unveil their primetime line-ups and book billions of dollars in advance ad sales. This could be the fourth straight year that upfront ad commitments stay flat or fall.

Iran prepares for a nuclear agreement. Unofficial talks in begin Vienna, ahead of a meeting later this week to draft a final agreement. Meanwhile, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Western calls for Iran to curb its missile development program were “stupid and idiotic.”

Over the weekend

Ukrainian separatists declared victory. Pro-Moscow groups said voters overwhelmingly backed calls for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to secede, though no one seems to agree on what that would actually mean. The referendum votes were variably festive and violent; in one town, Ukrainian guardsmen opened fire on the crowd.

Japan’s weak exports became a serious drag. The country’s current account surplus dropped more than four-fold to 116.4 billion yen ($1.14 billion) in March, hampering the recovery of the world’s third-largest economy. Still, some of Japan’s biggest countries are still planning big spending boosts (paywall) for the year ahead.

China said slow growth is the new growth. President Xi Jinping enjoined his compatriots to stay “cool-minded” and “adapt to a new normal” of slower economic expansion, as policymakers struggle to meet a 7.5% growth target for the year.

Britain probes Barclays’ “corrupt dealings” with Qatar. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will question Bob Diamond and senior Barclays executives (paywall) ”under caution,” suggesting it has reasonable grounds to suspect them of a crime, as part of an investigation into payments made to the bank’s Qatari investors.

Samsung’s chairman had a heart attack. 72-year-old Lee Kun-Hee, South Korea’s richest man, underwent emergency surgery after suffering cardiac arrest. His health problems raise questions about whether his son, Samsung vice chairman Jay Lee, is ready to take the helm of the country’s biggest company.

A waste plant protest in China turned ugly. Dozens were injured after a protest against an incinerator turned into a riot in Hangzhou. The incident follows last month’s protest against a plant in southern China that residents believed would be a heavy polluter.

The ranks of the UK’s richest swelled. The Sunday Times rich list found 104 billionaires in the UK—up from 88 last year—with a combined net worth of £301 billion ($507 billion)—that’s more billionaires per capita than any other country.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how soccer has finally found a home in the American psyche. “Nine of the 10 most watched Premier League games ever took place during the current season, and matches have, on average, drawn 440,000 viewers each, compared to 221,000 last year. This Sunday (May 11), for the season finale, NBC will air all 10 matches live across its various channels. Let’s stop to reflect on this. A foreign game, a foreign league, is being aired on US television, and people are actually watching it.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Apple is having a mid-life crisis. Buying Beats is a classic example of opening one’s wallet to keep up with the kids.

Your mobile phone bill should be going down. But it isn’t, because consumers aren’t reaping the benefits of wireless technology.

The City is losing to Wall Street. Barclays’ downsizing has taken British investment banking back 20 years (paywall).

Asians are less self-centered because of rice. Rice farming breeds a more collective society than wheat farming.

Irony and technology have become cultural crutches. Why deal with an uncomfortable situation when you can fidget with your smartphone?

Surprising discoveries

Vladimir Putin is a demon on the ice. He scored six goals and five assists in a televised hockey game.

There’s an apparent relationship between Maine divorces and margarine consumption. And dozens of other spurious correlation charts.

Parents are happier, after all. But only because non-parents are more miserable than they used to be.

There’s a gene for (a tiny bit of) intelligence. A variation called KL-VS can increase IQ by six points.

The secret to life could be buried in PDFs. One third of the World Bank’s reports have never been downloaded.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, grain-centric sociological theories, and unread World Bank reports to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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