Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—AstraZeneca’s snub, Africa’s record investment, Vatican’s crackdown, Twitter lexicographers

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What to watch for today

China and Russia get closer. Russian president Vladimir Putin, currently in Shanghai, is reportedly close to signing a $400 billion natural-gas deal with China, ending years of price negotiations. Putin told Chinese media that Moscow and Beijing have never been so close (paywall).

Jamie Dimon’s pay goes to a vote. JP Morgan’s proposal to increase its CEO’s pay by 74% could face opposition, after advisory firm Glass, Lewis & Co recommended shareholders reject the package. Three pension funds have already said they will vote against the pay rise

Microsoft unveils a new product. Earlier rumors suggested a smaller version of the Surface tablet, but recent leaks have pointed toward a totally new tablet, which could actually be on the bigger side. Here are a couple of roundups of all the pre-reveal chatter.

A ruling on Oscar Pistorius’ state of mind. Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce the results of the Blade Runner’s psychiatric evaluation. Whether the South African athlete suffers from an anxiety disorder could affect his defense in his trial for shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Decoding Vodafone’s numbers. Full-year revenue is set to drop by £1 billion ($1.68 billion) to about £43.5 billion, but otherwise annual earnings will be skewed by Vodafone’s $130 billion sale of its Verizon stake. Investors may pay more attention to how much the telco’s decline in Europe is offset by growth in emerging markets (paywall).

While you were sleeping

AstraZeneca snubbed Pfizer again. Shares in the Anglo-Swiss drugs company fell 15% (its biggest ever intraday drop) after it rejected Pfizer’s final offer of $118 billion. Unless someone changes their mind before May 26, Pfizer will have to wait until November to make another bid.

This could be a record year for Africa. The continent is on track to roll in a record $80 billion in foreign investment this year (paywall), mostly from the US, the UK and France. The top six countries (led by Nigeria and South Africa) generate as much as the remaining 48 nations combined.

The US accused China of cyber-snooping. Five Chinese military officers have been charged with hacking into US companies to steal intellectual property and other secrets, marking the first time Washington has prosecuted members of a foreign government for criminal cyber-espionage.

The Vatican said its money-laundering crackdown is working. The papal precinct’s financial watchdog reported 202 suspicious transactions in 2013 (paywall), compared to just six the year before. Needless to say, its director put that down to better monitoring, not more abuse.

Antarctica is melting at twice its previous pace. New radar images from Europe’s Cryosat spacecraft shows the White Continent shrinking by 160 billion tonnes of ice each year, mostly from its western ice sheet (and backing up recent findings about the Antarctic’s collapsing glaciers).

The US charged Credit Suisse. The bank is expected to pay $2.5 billion to resolve criminal charges that it helped Americans evade US taxes by sheltering their money in Swiss accounts. It’s one of a dozen banks facing similar probes, and there’s pressure on the CEO to quit.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how the US National Football League could ruin the AT&T-DirecTV deal. ”DirecTV shares are down about 2% this morning, which is a surprise, because yesterday the company agreed to be bought by AT&T in a blockbuster deal worth $48.5 billion. In early-morning trading, the stock was hovering around the $85 mark, which is about 11% below AT&T’s bid price (which works out to $95 per share). Why? In a word, American football. Investors are worried that the deal will collapse if DirecTV is unable to renew its exclusive rights to broadcast every National Football League match on Sundays.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Private philanthropy is funding American science. That’s nothing new, but this time it’s less democratic.

To get an MBA you need a travel budget. Already expensive, business degrees involve an increasingly pricey schedule of travel for networking with fellow students.

Invisible racism is more insidious than the visible kind. When racist epithets are unacceptable, it makes institutionalized racism that much harder to see.

Online loan services are threatening banks. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending (paywall) can offer better deals.

It was smart of Swiss voters to block a minimum wage. And it shows they’re more pragmatic and sensible than many politicians.

Surprising discoveries

Jordan Belfort will earn more this year than in his best year as a broker. The real-life Wolf of Wall Street will repay the victims of his securities fraud with the proceeds from the movie, and his book and speaking tour.

Light can be turned into matter. British labs are racing to be the first to smash enough photons together.

The dictionary is getting Twitter-fied. Collins’ lexicographers are looking for new words on the social platform.

China is keeping sharp against Western competition. No, really: Chinese scientists invented a coating material that keeps knives sharp 100 times longer (paywall).

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is suing the makers of his fictional biopic. The former IMF chief is said to be “heartbroken and terrified” over Welcome to New York.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, superfast photons, and blunt knives to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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