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Quartz Daily Brief—Google’s big day, US oil exports, China’s World Bank, high-altitude drone encounters

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Google kicks off its biggest event of the year. The web giant’s annual I/O Conference is aimed at developers, but is also a showcase to introduce new features and products. The company may debut the newest version of Android and a new TV set-top box (paywall).

A final reading on US GDP. The third and final reading of first-quarter GDP is expected to show a contraction of 1.7%, a significant climbdown on the initial reading of 0.1% growth, finally settling how much cold weather at the start of the year affected the US economy.

Yahoo talks up its book. At its investor meeting the company will try to show that it’s worth something more than the money it will make off Alibaba’s upcoming IPO. The meeting (which will stream here) comes after a week where Yahoo announced a breaking news team, and its CEO allegedly missed a meeting with ad executives because she fell asleep.

Libyans go to the polls. Some 1.5 million voters have registered to vote for the 200-seat parliament, barely half as many as for the first election in 2012 after Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster. The vote was called after a renegade general’s supporters stormed parliament.

What’s a camera company worth these days? Sports-camera maker GoPro is expected to price 18 million shares at somewhere between $18 and $24 in advance of its Thursday IPO. That would net the company around $400 million at a $2.8 billion valuation.

While you were sleeping

Obama opened US oil exports. For the first time in four decades, the US will begin exporting unrefined oil (paywall) as soon as August, which could radically alter the world’s energy balance.

China’s local debt growth slowed. Increased scrutiny on borrowing and an economic slowdown brought the increase in local government debt down to 3.79% between June 2013 and March 2014—seven percentage points lower than the first half of 2013.

Gunmen fired on a plane in Peshawar airport. A Pakistani International Airlines plane carrying 178 passengers was shot at as it came in to land, and one woman was killed. The third violent incident at a Pakistani airport in a month raises questions over the government’s ability to fight the Taliban.

China moved forward with its own version of the World Bank. The $100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank would be focused initially on building a new version of the Silk Road (paywall)  from Asia to Europe, and would also be a counterweight to the Japan-dominated Asian Development Bank.

Best Buy is considering selling its China business. The US-based electronics retailer is looking to sell off or partner its China operations, according to the Wall Street Journal. The unit, worth about $300 million, has failed to compete against local rivals Suning and Gome.

Scotland Yard wants a word with Rupert Murdoch, after a jury convicted former News of the World honcho Andy Coulson and acquitted former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks in the British phone-hacking scandal. Police had agreed to wait until after the trial to interview Murdoch himself.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how China doesn’t have as much currency control as it thinks: “While rising torrents of foreign borrowing keep its system liquid, they have also left China’s central bank with less control over the financial system than it had just two years ago. And that reliance on foreign borrowing makes the country much more vulnerable to a liquidity seize-up than many—including China’s leaders—realize.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The cool kids aren’t all right. Socially precocious 13-year-olds tend to struggle with relationships and substance abuse when they reach their 20s.

A generational cigarette ban is a bad idea. There are better ways to bring smoking down than a UK proposal to ban sales to anyone born after the year 2000.

Saddam’s old friend could be the best solution for Iraq. Izzat Ibrahim, one of the most-wanted Iraqis during the 2003 invasion, is Iraq’s best defense against ISIL—if he’s still alive.

Tennis could teach other sports about gender equality. Tournaments like Wimbledon are among the few big sporting events that offer equal pay and TV exposure.

NASA’s plan to get to Mars is a joke. The idea of pushing a small asteroid into orbit around the moon and using it as a springboard to Mars is probably impractical and crazy expensive.

Surprising discoveries

The CIA loves Amazon’s cloud. The intelligence agency is planning to expand its use of the retailer’s online infrastructure to include sophisticated data-mining tools.

Close encounters of the drone kind. Three US commercial jets encountered unidentified drones last month at altitudes of up to 6,000 ft.

Flag icons on Twitter take up two characters, because of political sensitivities about how to encode country symbols.

Fish might be a lot smarter than we think. Their cognitive and perceptual abilities often match or exceed those of other vertebrates, and there’s strong evidence that they feel pain.

Last month was the hottest May on record. Global temperatures saw the biggest spike since data started being collected in 1880. Spain and South Korea were particularly toasty.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Mars mission ideas, and drone countermeasures to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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