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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Ukraine ceasefire ends, UK’s cautious recovery, cloudy Aereo decision, Escobar’s rogue hippos

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

What to watch for today

The Ukraine ceasefire expires. Fighting between Kiev and pro-Russian militias could resume as of 10pm local time following a one-week ceasefire. Not that it ever stopped, anyway.

An explanation for Tesco’s investors. CEO Philip Clarke will tell shareholders what he’s doing to turn the ailing supermarket chain around. The company recently reported its worst quarterly profits in 40 years and Moody’s downgraded its debt to just two notches above junk status.

The US government holds a bitcoin auction. The US Marshals Service is selling nearly 30,000 bitcoins—worth about $17.4 million at face value—that were seized from the shuttered Silk Road online marketplace. The auction is expected to attract interest from Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and beyond.

Mexico tries to keep its trade streak going. The country is attempting to maintain a trade surplus for the fourth consecutive month, after a volatile year for the country’s exports. There is resurgent interest in Mexico as a manufacturing center, due to its proximity to the US and increasingly competitive wages.

While you were sleeping

Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova tiptoed away from Russia. Ukraine finally signed a substantial trade agreement with the EU that triggered the country’s revolution and its violent showdown with Russia. Georgia and Moldova did the same, binding the three countries closer to the West.

China prepared to pull out of Iraq. Dozens of oil workers have been evacuated to Baghdad from strife-torn regions in the country’s north, where the Sunni insurgents ISIL have taken control. An additional 1,200 workers are due to be pulled out in the next few days.

Cautious signs for the UK recovery. The country’s statistics office reaffirmed last year’s 1.7% GDP growth rate (paywall), rather than an upwards revision many expected. Bank of England governor Mark Carney said Britain’s economy is still “relatively vulnerable,” with household debt being a main flashpoint.

Japan released a round of healthy economic data. Unemployment dropped to 3.5% in May, from 3.6% a month earlier, while another key employment figure showed the highest ratio of available jobs to jobseekers in more than 20 years. The consumer price index fell from 1.5% in April to 1.4% in May, but that was roughly in line with the Bank of Japan’s prediction (paywall) that inflation would dip before reviving in the summer.

South Korea’s factory output took a surprise dive. Industrial production shrank by a seasonally adjusted 2.7% in May, well below expectations, in the worst monthly decline since 2008. The sudden drop raises fears that the country’s recovery is stalling due to a strong currency and weak domestic demand.

Concerns grew over Australia’s housing bubble. Christopher Kent, assistant governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, told parliament he wouldn’t welcome further strong house price growth after they rose by an annualized 10.9% in the first quarter.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenni Avins on the failed efforts to blend high fashion and wearable tech. ”So far, fashion collaborations have failed to deliver for wearable technology. That’s because the medium—unlike Target towels or H&M dresses—calls for more than just high-end branding delivered on the cheap. Making technology truly wearable is not just a matter of dressing up a device. It will require vigorous innovation that wholly integrates form with function.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Point: The US Supreme Court finally gets the internet. The court showed itself to be quite tech-savvy with its narrow ruling against the TV-streaming service Aereo.

Counterpoint: The Aereo decision could actually kill the cloud. The court tried to exempt cloud-based services from its ruling but failed to provide a rationale, which could hurt innovation in a number of ways.

There are three possible explanations for why we haven’t encountered aliens. We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re screwed.

Hong Kong is an ugly lesson for Taiwan. Beijing’s creeping powers are a stark warning of what might happen if it unifies with the mainland.

Silicon Valley needs to disrupt itself. The self-proclaimed meritocracy is a “make-believe cult”—in reality it’s an elitist, homogeneous club.

Surprising discoveries

Pablo Escobar’s hippos are a problem in Colombia. The late drug baron’s imported herd is taking over the countryside.

Footballers like it hot. They actually run faster and pass better as the temperature rises.

A swarm of tiny drones could 3D-print your house. Little flying robots called “minibuilders” might eventually replace construction crews.

Sitting is so bad for you that even exercise won’t help. But there are ways to mitigate the harmful effects of the modern mode of work.

People will pay twice as much for artistically-arranged salads. The salads also taste better.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, explanations of the Fermi Paradox, and hippo eradication strategies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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