Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Japan’s GDP surge, NY Times editor ousted, Flappy Birds comeback, modern art madness

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What to watch for today

Fast-food service gets slow. Workers in fast food chains across six continents are striking over low pay. US workers are demanding a minimum wage rise to $15 per hour, and protests are planned at hundreds of McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC branches around the world.

The ECB stays on the hook. Both GDP growth and inflation for the euro zone are expected to increase but neither figure will likely be strong enough to relax concerns about Europe’s recovery, keeping the pressure on the European Central Bank to do something more radical.

Wal-Mart sings the winter blues. The US retail chain is set to post a slight drop in first quarter profits, dragged down by store closures and a harsh winter. Wal-Mart could have better news from its e-commerce sales, though—they rose about 30% last year.

A gloomy outlook for Russia, which is is heading for its slowest economic expansion in five years. First-quarter GDP growth is predicted to be just 0.7%, versus 2% growth in the previous quarter. A report from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development predicts stagnation for Russia and a 7% contraction for Ukraine.

Erdogan responds to Turkey’s mine anger. The prime minister’s visit to Soma, where a disaster has killed over 200 miners so far, was met with angry hecklers, and protests took place across the country.

While you were sleeping

A bomb killed two and injured dozens in Bangkok. The explosion at an anti-government protest site is the worst incident to hit the country since February. The military has so far stayed above the fray, but violence raises the likelihood it could get involved.

The New York Times’ first female executive editor got fired. Jill Abramson was dismissed due to a cryptic “issue with management in the newsroom,” and replaced with the paper’s first African-American executive editor, Dean Baquet. Earlier in the day Natalie Nougayrède, editor-in-chief of France’s Le Monde, quit after a long-running newsroom conflict.

Japan’s GDP rose at its fastest pace in three years. Shoppers trying to beat a sales tax rise pushed Japan’s GDP growth to an annualized 5.9%, ahead of analyst expectations (and, if only briefly, China). Separately, the Bank of Japan said consumer prices and nominal wages are rising, suggesting that the inflation outlook is improving.

Sprint and T-Mobile may get a chance after all. US regulators may not be as united against a merger between the wireless companies as it once seemed, the Wall Street Journal reported. One commissioner has privately expressed concern that two companies might not survive on their own.

AIG completed its last major spinoff. AerCap finalized its purchase of International Lease Finance Corp, a former AIG subsidiary, for $7.6 billion. The result will be the world’s largest independent aircraft-leasing firm.

Al Qaeda is developing its own encryption software. The move is a reaction to disclosures about the NSA’s far-reaching surveillance of the internet, but it may backfire—encryption is really hard to get right.

Flappy Birds is making a comeback. The cult hit mobile game, withdrawn from app stores by its Vietnamese creator, will make a return in August, CNBC reports. This time around it will be “less addictive,” says Dong Nguyen.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how China may have missed its chance to stop its housing bubble from popping. ”China’s housing market is slumping fast: major developers have slashed prices as much as 15% since March, reports Bloomberg, and housing starts fell 25% in the first quarter of 2014, according to Nomura. Heavily reliant on housing investment, China’s economic growth is swooning. The People’s Bank of China finally took action earlier today, ordering big banks to start churning out more mortgages to homebuyers. Will more mortgages fix the problem? Analysts are skeptical.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Nigerian military is almost as bad as Boko Haram. Security forces are known for theft, beatings, and arbitrary executions.

Lucky streaks are real, even if luck isn’t. Gamblers make smarter bets after winning, and dumber bets after losing.

Don’t sell your ideas using someone else’s name. It diminishes your authority and undersells your idea, says Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Blame Thomas Edison for your sleep deprivation. “No one did more to frame the issue as a simple choice between productive work and unproductive rest.”

The Ukraine crisis is great for Elon Musk. Russia’s space launch threat could make the SpaceX CEO into a real-life Tony Stark.

Surprising discoveries

Military infographics are amazing. The Pentagon’s Powerpoint jockeys love fighter jets and name-checking the commander-in-chief.

Android switchers can get stuck in iPhone purgatory. The SMS-replacement iMessage app is never gonna let you go.

The US government has a zombie apocalypse plan. It comes with a disclaimer: “This plan was not actually designed as a joke.”

Your favorite junk food is getting pricier. Rising costs will push up prices at Chipotle, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

Modern art is getting crazier. After a record-setting $745 million auction, one art dealer said: “I don’t know what money means anymore.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, anti-Edison rants, and favorite military infographics to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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