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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Ukraine fighting, ISIL’s Iraq gains, cheap TVs, soccer etymology

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

Alstom’s bidding war heats up. Siemens and Mitsubishi will make a joint offer for Alstom’s energy arm, 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. It is set to return to the bond market any day now, selling US dollar-denominated debt for the first time since 2008, when it defaulted on $3.2 billion worth. 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.

London’s tech week kicks off. London has nominated itself the “digital capital of Europe,” and more than 200 events on everything from big data to android porting are scheduled throughout the capital.

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 if they want to go to university—will get extra time if they show up late today.

World Cup fixtures. Germany v Portugal (5pm BST), Iran v Nigeria (8pm), Ghana v USA (11pm).

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.

Colombians reelected a peacemaker president. President Juan Manuel Santos won a second term, offering him a chance to continue his 19-month-old peace talks with Marxist rebels. Santos won the election with 50.9% of the votes, against an opponent predicted to escalate combat against the rebels.

Ireland’s tax laws lure another US company. Minneapolis-based Medtronic, one of the biggest medical device makers in the world, agreed to buy Dublin-based Covidien, for $42.9 billion. The price, at $93.22 per share, was almost a third higher than Covidien’s New York closing price on Friday. The new company, called Medtronic Plc, will be based in Ireland, which will exclude $14 billion in cash from US taxes.

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 put further sanctions on Russia (paywall).

Pakistan sent troops north. Troops, artillery and helicopter gunships attacked rebels in an air strike before launching a ground operation, in the country’s North Waziristan region. The government says more than 100 rebels were killed in the attack, home to extremists who have claimed responsibility for last week’s overnight assault on Karachi airport.

ISIL made inroads into Iraq’s north. The mainly Turkmen city of Tal Afar was taken by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, after a fierce battle that saw heavy casualties on both sides. Iraqi media reports were contradictory on whether the government was losing or gaining ground overall, and the government cut the internet.

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.

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

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.

Tony Blair has gone mad. His refusal to face facts about his role in the “disaster of modern Iraq” is a sign he needs professional psychiatric help, Boris Johnson writes.

The next TV you buy should be cheap. 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 doesn’t need to be on Twitter. ”You go to Apple. They do not go to you.”

Surprising discoveries

The new New York cab has passenger-controlled AC. There are also two USB ports so passengers can charge their phones.

The world’s strongest bank is in Hong Kong. Even though it does a huge amount of business in China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng bank, controlled by HSBC, tops an annual Bloomberg ranking of healthy banks.

IKEA is bullying its greatest fans. It has sent a cease and desist letter to the “IKEAhackers” community.

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?

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