Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Chaos in Iraq, fighting in Ukraine, stimulus in Japan, burrito bonds

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What to watch for today

Iraq teeters on the edge. Sunni militants made overnight gains and Baghdad is preparing to defend itself from an attack, while Iran has deployed troops to support Iraq’s military. The oil-rich Kurd-controlled area of northern Iraq could gain more independence.

US producer prices inch upwards. Analysts are expecting to see a 0.1% increase in producer prices last month, both overall and excluding food and energy. This follows a 0.5% rise in April.

A possible end to South Africa’s mine strike. After major metals producers reached an agreement with union leaders to end a five-month strike Thursday, unions are soliciting feedback from workers.

A spooky night sky. A solar flare on the surface of the sun could send a shockwave through earth and possibly disrupt GPS and communication signals, while a full moon falling on Friday 13th won’t happen again until 2049. If you’re superstitious, stay indoors.

World Cup games. Mexico v Cameroon (12pm EDT), Spain v Netherlands (3pm), Chile v Australia (6pm).

While you were sleeping

Ukrainian forces launched a dawn attack. Troops surrounded and took back the rebel-held city of Mariupol as part of an attempt to regain control of eastern Ukraine—the city has traded hands several times now in several weeks.

More stimulus for Japan.The Bank of Japan said it would continue expanding the monetary base by $688 billion per year, to reach an inflation target of 2%. So far it seems to be working—core prices rose 1.5% in April, even after discounting the sales tax rise. Prime minister Shinzo Abe also announced plans to reduce corporate tax to below 30% over the next few years.

A new gaming giant was formed. Amaya, a Canadian gaming group, bought Oldford Group, the owner of some of the largest online poker sites in the world. The deal was an all-cash purchase for $4.9 billion, and will create the world’s largest publicly-traded online gaming company.

US companies are hoarding overseas. A survey by the FT found that 14 US tech and pharma businesses are holding more cash offshore (paywall)—$497 billion—than all other American companies combined. The companies, which include Microsoft and Google, have cut their effective tax rate by a quarter over the past eight years.

Bergdahl returned to the US. The Army sergeant who spent five years as a Taliban captive is back in the US after recuperating in Germany. He will be reunited with his family in San Antonio.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenni Avins tracks an 80-year relationship between fashion and football. “When the 2014 World Cup soccer players take the field this afternoon, the hemlines of their shorts will hover not far from their knees—not unlike the ones on players in the inaugural 1930 World Cup. Of course, athletic uniforms must be designed for performance, but like all clothing, they’re also affected by the styles of the times. And indeed, our analysis of World Cup shorts over time shows that soccer kits reflected the rising and falling of women’s hemlines.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

On Palestine, America can’t see the forest for the trees. The US is so close to Israel it cannot begin to understand the Palestinian argument.

Ending teacher tenure will do little for students. Making this worse, it will increase the grip of high-stakes testing.

The Chinese are basically American. Ambition, enterprise, and freedom are what everyone strives for in China.

US intelligence keeps getting caught with its pants down. It failed to foresee the upheaval in Crimea and now Iraq.

Britain needs to slow down on the deal making. Corporate (and unfriendly) takeovers are happening too often (paywall).

Don’t lean in. Women who negotiate for better pay and conditions may see their careers suffer.

Surprising discoveries

Earth has another ocean. Scientists have discovered an ocean’s worth of water locked deep beneath the earth’s surface.

This book plays tic-tac-toe with you. No batteries required.

The real winners of the World Cup. British booze companies, Bangladeshi garment factories, and Brazilian sex workers are raking in the cash.

1,000 people simultaneously ate one of the hottest chillies in the world. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

What soccer in a space station looks like. Either painfully awkward or breathtakingly graceful.

Not all bond yields are financial. This Mexican fast-food joint is repaying its bond-holders with burritos.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tic-tac-toe strategies, and burrito bonds to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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