Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—China-Russia gas deal, Nigeria terror attack, Thai army talks, drunken fish leaders

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What to watch for today

Details of $400 billion Russia-China gas deal. In a late-breaking development, Reuters and state-owned agency Russia Today reported that the Gazprom and PetroChina have sealed a long-negotiated deal to export 38 billion cubic meters Russian natural gas per year to China through a new pipeline. Few details are available, but the Chinese market could give Russian president Vladimir Putin a crucial alternative to Europe, where relations have been strained by the Ukraine crisis. gears up for its IPO. China’s biggest direct-to-consumer online retailer is set to price its shares in the $16-$18 range, which could give it a valuation of up to $24.6 billion when it lists on Nasdaq on Thursday.

Amazon and HBO take on Netflix. HBO shows including The Sopranos and The Wire become available to Amazon prime customers in the US, UK, and Germany. Newer hits such as Girls and Game of Thrones aren’t part of the package.

American lawmakers discuss the military budget. Congress debates the annual defense policy bill’s $576 billion in discretionary spending and war operations. The budget needs to be cut, but the Pentagon and lawmakers can’t seem to agree where.

Brazilian banks pay up for the past. Depositors want up to $154 billion in compensation for government policies that fought hyperinflation in the 1980s and 1990s, such as capped interest rates for saving accounts.

Target tries to hit the mark. The pressure will be on the US retail chain after it fired its CEO earlier this month over a massive data security breach. The company is expected to report a drop in earnings, but others in its sector are doing the same, so investors’ low expectations (paywall) could work in Target’s favor.

While you were sleeping

Thailand elections may take place under martial law. Caretaker prime minister Niwattamrong Boonsongpaisan is discussing a possible August 3 election with the military and the country’s election commission. Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha held a meeting of the country’s feuding political factions.

A terror attack in Nigeria killed 118. Two bombs detonated in the central city of Jos, and while no group took responsibility, terrorist group Boko Haram is the prime suspect. Tensions have long been high between Jos’ Christian and Muslim populations, and the bombs may have been meant to encourage more violence between them.

Xi Jinping warned Asian nations against military alliances. China’s president said alliances “targeted at a third party” (meaning China) are not conducive to maintaining common security, in a veiled warning to countries like the Philippines that are looking to the United States for support. Xi failed to mention that the Chinese navy is carrying out joint exercises with Russia this week.

Maersk beat expectations. The company that ships around 15% of all seaborne freight said earnings hit $1.21 billion for the first quarter this year, compared with expectations of $1.07 billion. Group profits are on track to be significantly higher than 2013’s $3.8 billion.

Australian wages failed to keep up with inflation. First-quarter wages rose by 2.6% but consumer prices rose 2.9%, for a real wages decline of 0.3%, the largest drop since 2008 (paywall).

Japan’s export outlook was gloomy. April’s seasonally-adjusted exports rose just 0.6% from the previous month, dashing hopes of a long-lasting upturn.

Quartz obsession interlude

Mark DeCambre asks Lloyd Blankfein why Goldman Sachs is taking the opposite strategy to most other banks. “‘I’ve been doing this over 30 years,’ the Goldman Sachs CEO told Quartz in an interview after the firm’s annual shareholder meeting. ’I think it’s a vanity to say something that has worked is not going to work from this moment forward.’” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Hungary is the victim of a constitutional coup. It is now a one-party state and there’s nothing the EU can do about it.

Thailand’s military intervention isn’t sustainable. Troops alone can’t mend the nation’s intractable political divide.

Literature shouldn’t come with “trigger warnings.” The red flags over emotionally fraught content are just one step away from book-banning.

Bangalore isn’t India’s Silicon Valley—Delhi is. At least, that’s what this startup would like you to believe. 

Southeast Asia’s tourist industry is taking a beating. Riots, martial law and missing planes aren’t doing the region any favors.

Surprising discoveries

Mice run for fun. The rodents love to use exercise wheels, even in the middle of the forest.

Florida’s cities are the most dangerous in the US. For pedestrians, that is.

A bee parasite the mafia could love. The thick-headed fly forces its victims to dig their own graves.

Why octopuses don’t stick to themselves. A skin chemical tells the suckers in their tentacles if a body part belongs to them.

Drunk fish are cool. Sober fish will even follow them around.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, rodent exercise routines, and insect execution techniques to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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