Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—GE ups its bid, Ukraine leans west, Uganda leans east, electric Harleys

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What to watch for today

Microsoft takes on the tablet market. The Surface Pro 3—”the tablet that can replace your laptop”—is due to be released. That marketing ploy has backfired though, because, as many tech reviewers have pointed out, it can’t.

The EU plans what to spend next year. Finance ministers meet in Luxembourg to discuss the EU’s draft budget for 2015—specifically, projects to boost the European economy.

A quiet day in English workplaces. A survey by betting chain Ladbrokes found that one in 10 workers was contemplating taking a sick day if England lost its World Cup game against Uruguay. It lost 2-1, effectively knocking England out of the tournament.

World Cupdate. Italy plays Costa Rica at midnight HKT, following the Central American country’s shock win against Uruguay over the weekend, while Switzerland takes on France at 3pm. Japan and Greece are playing as we write this.

While you were sleeping

General Electric sweetened its Alstom bid. Up against a counter-offer from Siemens and Mitsubishi, GE changed its mind and improved its original $16.9 billion bid by agreeing to sell Alstom its rail signaling business. The deal would also see GE and Alstom enter into a 50:50 joint venture over other assets.

Ukraine leaned westwards. One June 27, president Petro Poroshenko will sign an EU trade agreement—the very same one his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych rejected, triggering the violent protests that led to his ouster. Signing the pact will increase tensions between Kyiv and Moscow,  which has threatened further trade restrictions.

The US Supreme Court clamped down on patents. The court made it harder to patent ideas and processes, especially ones that pre-empt and discourage future innovation rather than promoting it. The ruling covers abstract ideas or building blocks, such as an online shopping cart.

America is sending Iraq men but not missiles. Some 300 special-forces troops will go as military advisers to help the army fight Sunni insurgents, but the US won’t meet Iraq’s request for airstrikes against them. US officials have been sending signals (paywall) that it’s time for prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to go.

Uganda is entrusting its railways to China. The country will next month invite only Chinese firms to bid for up to $8 billion in contracts to expand its railways so as to improve trade links with its neighbors. Uganda’s entire 2012 GDP was $20 billion.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on the burgeoning financial industry that’s based on $20 cellphones. “Where the West has the web, the poor world has Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)—a simple, text-based data-transfer protocol used on mobile networks. And it is being used for everything from day-to-day transactions to tax payments, and from insurance to savings.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

La Roja needs a major rebirth. The Spanish football team, former world champions, has “tired players and tired tactics.”

College professors shouldn’t call their students “kids.” It belittles them and cultivates childish behavior in the very place they’re meant to be figuring out adult life.

When the time comes, Prince Charles should abdicate. An unpopular king could ruin Britain’s tourism industry, as well as the monarchy’s place in the Commonwealth countries.

Nuri al-Maliki should go. The Iraqi prime minister is partly responsible for the Sunni insurgency and is incapable of uniting the country.

Laziness, not totalitarian governments, will bring down the internet. Too few people are willing to make the effort to sneak around censorship.

The global economy needs Saudi Arabia. Its oil is all the more important in light of tensions in Iraq.

Surprising discoveries

Americans are finally catching on to the European mindset. They’re working less and sleeping more.

Spain and Portugal could survive on their own geothermal energy. Forget wind and solar—all the power they need is bubbling away underground.

Harley-Davidson is testing an electric motorcycle. The silent two-wheeler will spend the year traveling down Route 66.

South Korea is the global leader of R&D spending. Private sector spending on R&D has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

Two things that can help your job prospects. Mentioning high school sports on your résumé, and—in the American South—being Jewish, can increase your chances.

Switzerland is the greenest country in the World Cup. Brazil would make it to the environmental quarter-finals.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, faith-based résumés, and green energy alternatives to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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