Quartz Daily Brief—Alstom picks GE, China bucks slowdown, Kurdish oil sales, hangover cures

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What to watch for today

Australia may scrap its carbon tax. Prime minister Tony Abbott will ask parliament to consider a bill repealing the carbon-pricing system enacted by the previous government. A majority of Australians are now in favor of the tax.

The economic health of the euro zone. Markit Economics releases its monthly purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) for France, Germany, and the rest of the euro zone. Watch for whether France scrapes its way back over the 50 mark, denoting expansion and a crucial sign of economic recovery.

A rebound in US housing. The National Association of Realtors is expected to report that home re-sales rose in May to 4.73 million transactions, up from 4.65 million a month earlier. Home sales, like much of the US economy, had a slow start to the year, but recent figures have indicated the market is strengthening.

A confab on internet governance. ICANN’s 50th global summit kicks off in London amid French calls to reform the group’s structure. The ongoing expansion of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) is also likely to be high on the agenda.

World Cupdate. Cameroon v Brazil and Croatia v Mexico are both at 9pm BST.

Over the weekend

Alstom went to GE (and France). The board of Alstom voted to accept a $17 billion offer from General Electric to acquire its railway business and to set up joint ventures. The French state will get a 20% stake in Alstom as part of the deal.

China’s factory slowdown reversed dramatically… HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index for June says factory activity expanded to 50.8 in the month, from 49.4 a month earlier. If the final reading confirms this leap, it would be a strong sign that government stimulus is working.

…And Japan’s did too. The Markit Economics flash PMI rose from 49.9 in May to 51.1 in June, suggesting a transition from contraction to expansion—and the highest it’s been since March.

BNP neared a mega-settlement. US prosecutors and the bank have reportedly agreed on an $8-9 billion fine (paywall) as well as other punishments to settle charges it hid $30 billion of transactions with Iran and other countries that violated US sanctions.

The IMF is seeking a new way out for indebted countries. Proposed new IMF rules could allow some struggling nations to “reprofile” their debt instead of defaulting.

The US tried to rein in the chaos in Iraq… US secretary of state John Kerry was in Cairo to rally US allies against the threat of ISIL—and turn them against Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. The Sunni militants overran Iraqi border posts with Syria and Jordan.

…while Iraqi Kurdistan took advantage of it. A million barrels of oil from the autonomous region of Iraq were delivered to Israel—the fourth such sale in defiance of the government in Baghdad. Iraq is suing Turkey, which is the conduit for its oil sales, over a previous Kurdistan-Israel transaction.

Russia backed a ceasefire in Ukraine. But president Vladimir Putin’s statement was at odds with Russia holding combat drills and putting 65,000 more troops on alert.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on how Disney is reshaping ”Star Wars” along the model of Marvel Comics. ”The stories that unite the universe, such as The Avengers, become must-see global blockbusters that bring together these different fan-bases once every few years. The Marvel method has upended the blockbuster formula, which, ironically, was created by the original Star Wars film in 1977.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The biggest winner in Thailand’s coup is China. Thai royalists feel abandoned by the United States, their longtime ally.

Barbie leaned in too far. Mattel’s “Career of the Year” doll is too little, too late.

The UK needs more unions. Otherwise it will soon resemble the US, where workers have lower wages and little power.

The US should tax carbon emissions. So says none other than George W. Bush’s Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson.

Hipsterism is so yesterday. The fashion trend has become so mainstream that “real” hipsters are moving on.

Surprising discoveries

The world’s largest trampoline is in an abandoned Welsh slate mine. Visitors can bounce and slide around at heights of up to 180 feet.

Techno-archaeologists hijacked a zombie spacecraft. NASA’s abandoned International Sun-Earth Explorer appears to be in good working order.

There are almost no proven cures for a hangover. Except one: a fried breakfast.

France sold Louisiana for $236 million in today’s money. If it hadn’t, the US might have returned to British rule.

Hinduism is the second biggest religion in Arizona and Delaware. And in South Carolina, it’s the Baha’i faith.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, hangover cures, and zombie spaceships to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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