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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—US shrinkage, Apple-Beats salad, Glaxo bribe reimbursement, your brain on porn

What to watch for today

Cold weather shrinkage of the US economy. After an initial estimate of 0.1% growth for first-quarter GDP, analysts expect revised data to show the economy actually declined 0.6%. That would be the first quarterly contraction in three years, but it can probably be put down mostly to a shockingly bad winter.

Daniel Loeb joins Sotheby’s. The activist investor and two others proposed by Third Point, his��hedge fund, are likely to be elected to the auction house’s board (paywall), after persuading the company to postpone its annual shareholder meeting to accommodate their nominations.

Frontier markets hit a six-year high. After five consecutive days of growth, led by Nigeria and Vietnam, the FTSE Frontier Markets index is less than a point away from breaking through its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

China tries to make nice with its southern neighbors. The annual China-ASEAN expo takes place in the southern Chinese city of Nanning. The meeting is aimed at encouraging a free trade area between China and the economic bloc of southeast Asian nations, but their relationship has been increasingly tense.

Palestinian politicians join forces. Gaza’s Hamas movement and Fatah, which runs the West Bank, will create a unity government, headed by Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah. PA president Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah will visit the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007.

While you were sleeping

Beats is on for Apple. Three weeks after rumors of the deal leaked, Apple confirmed it’s buying Beats Electronics, the headphone and music-streaming company, for $3 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook downplayed suggestions that Apple’s biggest acquisition marks a new strategy by noting that Apple has bought 27 companies in the last 18 months.

Japan retails sales plunged after a sales tax hike. Sales in April fell by 13.7% from the previous month, a year earlier—faster than the 11% fall forecast by a Bloomberg survey. The worse-than-expected drop puts extra pressure on prime minister Shinzo Abe, who hopes to raise the sales tax again soon.

The Philippines’ GDP growth lagged. The effects of Typhoon Haiyan dragged economic growth down to 5.7% (paywall) in the first quarter, from 6.3% in the final three months of 2013.

Protesters upended a pro-Russian breakaway republic—not in Ukraine but in Georgia, where the president of Abkhazia was forced to flee after his office was seized by opposition demonstrators.

Obama unveiled his new military policy. The US president announced a $5 billion counter-terrorism fund that will train allies in North Africa and the Middle East, encouraging locals to defend themselves without American intervention.

Glaxo’s China employees want their bribes reimbursed. Low-ranking workers say the company won’t pay them back for illicit payments (paywall) made to doctors and hospitals, which they say were ordered by their supervisors. The company is accused by Chinese officials of a “systemic and pervasive” bribery scheme.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the cold logic behind Elon Musk’s $5 billion gamble. “Elon Musk is placing an enormous bet on the world’s largest lithium-ion battery plant—a $5 billion, 10 million-square-foot “gigafactory” that would make enough battery packs to power 500,000 electric cars a year. That is four times the number of electric cars of any brand bought around the world last year, and a whopping 21 times Tesla’s own 2013 sales. In addition to betting on this monumental sales boost, Musk is hoping an inventive rival won’t eclipse his battery technology and render the gigafactory instantly obsolete. But the deck may be at least partly stacked in Musk’s favor.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China’s territorial provocations are a clever strategy. Beijing is showing its neighbors they can’t rely on the US for protection (paywall).

The “internet of things” is overhyped. It won’t be the biggest disruption since the web—there are too many missing pieces.

The corner shop is still king in India. Try as they may, major retailers can’t get Indians to buy fresh produce from their stores.

Brazil will win the FIFA World Cup… The number crunchers at Goldman Sachs say so—and so do Bloomberg’s.

…And England won’t. Especially if it comes to penalties: “England couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo,” says Stephen Hawking.

Surprising discoveries

San Francisco’s attempt to catch bike thieves backfired. Leaving “bait bikes” only entraps the poor, locals say.

Hong Kong just trumped New York’s Fifth Avenue. Russell Street is now the most expensive shopping area in the world.

Domestic dads raise ambitious daughters. Girls whose parents divvy up housework are more likely to defy gender roles in their professional lives.

This is your brain on porn. Heavy users have differences in certain key areas of the brain—but it’s not known whether porn consumption is the cause or the effect.

Nigeria is the most smartphone-addicted country, and dozens of other delightful charts about global internet usage.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, neuro-porn, and World Cup predictions to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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