Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Alibaba’s auspicious IPO, GM’s recall gaffe, Texas mad cow, Argentina’s dirty soccer

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What to watch for today

A peek at the future of the euro zone. The European Commission assesses whether member states are ready to adopt the euro. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden are all being considered—as well as Lithuania, the only country that has ever been rejected.

South Koreans vote in local elections. The results will be seen as a referendum on President Park Geun-Hye’s handling of a ferry disaster last month, in which the deaths of 300 people (mostly schoolchildren) shed light on “a culture of institutional negligence, greed and incompetence.”

G7 leaders meet in Brussels. For the first time in 17 years, Russia is excluded from the summit after a relocation from the planned venue of Sochi in protest of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. That conflict will likely be top of the agenda, as G7 leaders affirm their support of Ukraine’s new president (and former “chocolate king”) Petro Poroshenko.

Heathrow’s Terminal 2 opens. The first flight—a United Airlines jet from Chicago—is set to land at 6 a.m. local time, marking the opening of the £2.5 billion ($4.2 billion) refurbishment of T2, which closed in 2009. Heathrow is building up to full capacity over several months, wary after Terminal 5’s botched opening in 2008.

Hints on Walgreens’ UK expansion. The US drugstore already owns 45% of Boots, Britain’s largest chain of high street drugstores, and has the right to buy the remaining 55%. Walgreens’ trading and sales update will offer insight into how tempted it is to finish the deal.

While you were sleeping

Dai-Ichi confirmed its purchase of Protective Life. One of Japans’s largest life insurance companies confirmed it will buy its smaller US counterpart for $5.7 billion, paying a 34% premium to Protective’s closing price on Friday. Japanese life insurers are looking abroad for growth due to Japan’s aging population.

Alibaba is eyeing a fortuitous IPO date. The most hotly-anticipated offering this year may take place on August 8, according to Bloomberg. Eight is a lucky number in China, and so Alibaba hopes to float its shares on the eighth day of the eighth month. Superstition won’t trump all, though—in the event of a weak market the company will instead opt for a September launch.

Australia’s economy expanded 3.5%. Australian first-quarter GDP increased by the most since late 2011, beating analyst expectations as exports surged.

GM apologized to victims’ families. The beleaguered automaker mistakenly sent car recall notices to people who died as a result of a faulty ignition switch. The company has accepted responsibility for the deaths of 13 people, but a recent report suggested that number may be a significant underestimate.

Japan’s service sector contracted, barely. The Markit purchasing managers’ index was 49.3 for May, just below the 50 mark that indicates expansion. That’s an improvement from 46.4 in April, thanks to expanding payrolls—a good sign for the economy.

A man died from mad cow disease in Texas. The US Centers for Disease Control said the death was due to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which is contracted from eating diseased beef, but noted the man had recently traveled to Europe and the Middle East.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on the future of mobile phones (Hint: it doesn’t include phone calls). “The idea of using a mobile phone to actually talk to people already seems quaint to many young people. According to data presented in Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report (pdf), a biannual study of how the world uses phones, mobile phones will be used less and less for calls, and more for video. The report contains some fascinating nuggets, chief among them this: Voice traffic on mobile networks will peak in 2015, then revert back to around 2011 levels by 2019.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Slavery reparations are practically impossible. If history is any judge, other aggrieved ethnic groups will quickly demand their own compensation.

Cars will murder 30,000 Americans this year. And hardly anyone will bat an eyelid, thanks to auto industry lobbying.

Managers are essential. Ditching supervisory positions makes it harder to define career goals, especially when it comes to switching jobs.

Sugar should be treated like a drug. It’s addictive, pervasive, and Americans are overdosing.

Apple relies on Stockholm Syndrome. Forget new products; its main aim is to keep its current customers happy captives.

Surprising discoveries

The US Secret Service wants a social media sarcasm detector. That initiative will will totally succeed.

A VC appointed an algorithm to its board. It will pour over data and vote on investment decisions.

A US ambassador was sworn in on an e-reader. America’s representative to Switzerland took her oath on a Kindle.

Twitter’s new font doesn’t support Arabic or Cyrillic characters, the typefaces used by two of its fastest-growing markets .

Argentina plays the dirtiest soccer. Refs have handed the country 99 yellow cards and seven reds since 1970.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, algorithmic board members, and sarcasm filters to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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