Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—French exams, Colombian elections, cheap TVs, soccer etymology

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What to watch for today

Alstom’s bidding war heats up. Siemens and Mitsubishi will make a joint offer for Alstom’s energy arm (paywall), challenging General Electric’s $16.9 billion bid. The German company hopes that bringing in the Japanese conglomerate will remove concerns about combined market power in Europe.

Ecuador gets back in the game. The South American country is set to return to the bond market any day now (paywall), selling US dollar-denominated debt for the first time since 2008, when it defaulted on $3.2 billion worth of debt. Investors are expected to snap up $700 million in bonds, attracted by the near-7% yields.

Ukraine’s second deadline to pay up. Gazprom has threatened to cut off Ukraine’s gas supply if Kiev doesn’t pay off its $1.95 billion debt, after Russia extended the deadline by a week when Ukraine coughed up a partial payment of $786 million.

Mexico’s energy reform plans near completion. Mexican lawmakers will discuss the country’s controversial energy reforms, which will open up the sector to private investment after 75 years of state ownership. In particular, the senate committees will tackle what regulations should be put in place.

A French rail strike enters its sixth day. As a result of the travel disruption, students taking the baccalauréat exams required to go to university will get extra time if they show up late today.

The global battle for footballing glory picks up steam. Group G—also known as the Group of Death—plays its first World Cup match today, with Germany taking on Portugal and the US playing Ghana. Iran and Nigeria also go head to head.

Over the weekend

Car giants responded positively to Tesla’s open patents. Nissan and BMW are looking to collaborate (paywall) with Tesla on a charging network for electric cars, according to the Financial Times. Last week Tesla said it would make its patents available to rivals at no cost, to boost the electric-car industry.

Ukraine suffered its bloodiest day since the conflict began. Pro-Russian rebels shot down a Ukrainian military jet, killing 49 people,. They said they would shoot down any more planes that try to land at the airport in Luhansk, a separatist region in eastern Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko urged the west to place further sanctions on Russia (paywall).

Petroleum production hit a 44-year high. US production of crude oil, ethane, and other liquid-based petroleum products is at a level not seen since 1970 (paywall), showing that the recent shale-oil boom has put an end to four decades of supposedly irreversible decline.

Colombians took to the polls. President Juan Manuel Santos is defending his job (paywall) and his 19-month-old peace talks with Marxist rebels against opponent Óscar Iván Zuluaga, a former finance minister. Recent polls have the race as too close to call, but Colombia’s 3-0 win against Greece could tip the scales in the incumbent’s favor (paywall).

The World Cup made for some good sport. Costa Rica bagged a surprising 3-1 win against favorite-to-win Uruguay, taking the lead in its group after England lost 2-1 to Italy. In its first World Cup appearance since 1998, Colombia racked up a 3-0 win against Greece. Switzerland beat Ecuador 2-1 with a winning goal in the 93rd minute and France predictably bested Honduras.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the six charts that show how stingy America is toward its own families. ”For example, the amount of unpaid time new mothers in the US can take off, while legally entitled to keep their job, lags far behind other rich nations. And while the Family and Medical Leave Act allows workers in large American companies to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, ‘many do not take it or take shorter leave because they cannot afford it,’ the OECD reports. And the US is the only advanced economy that does not have a nationwide paid leave policy for new mothers. However, there is some paid maternity leave in the US: New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island have family leave programs that new mothers can use, and some well-heeled companies provide it on their own.” Read more here

Matters of debate

Don’t underestimate Amazon’s 3D smartphone. Yes, it’s a gimmick—but it sets up a huge retail opportunity.

India’s new prime minister could learn a thing or two from Bhutan’s. Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay’s social media presence might not be as large as Narendra Modi’s—but he has a sense of humor.

Denying climate change is like saying the moon is made of cheese. That’s what US president Barack Obama said in a commencement address at the University of California at Irvine.

The next TV you buy should be a cheap one. It’s just to tide you over until UltraHD, OLED televisions with 4K content become more affordable.

Brazil is winning its most important battle of all. Forget the World Cup—deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is declining rapidly.

Global peace is hindering economic growth. Despite the headlines, warfare isn’t what it used to be—which makes the need for better economic growth less urgent and therefore less likely (paywall).

Apple is above using Twitter. ”You go to Apple. They do not go to you.”

Surprising discoveries

The Americanism “soccer” is a British import. In the 19th century, it was an abbreviation of “association football.”

Sunscreen doesn’t totally prevent skin cancer. It can lower the amount of DNA damage cause by UV light—but not enough for complete protection.

The Lion King is 20 years old. How well do you remember Disney’s take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, soccer synonyms, and SPF 50 to You can follow us on Twitter here and Facebook here for updates throughout the day.

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