Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Modi to Kashmir, “Zero Hour” in Iraq, American jobs, Robot selfies

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What to watch for today

Narendra Modi goes to Kashmir. India’s prime minister will make his first visit to India’s provinces in the Kashmir Valley, territory claimed by both India and Pakistan, where he will find intense security preparations and separatists staging a “shutdown” in protest of his visit and Indian rule.

“Zero Hour” in Iraq. Insurgents are rallying to ISIL’s military successes in Iraq as part of a plan to take over Baghdad, which one militant told Reuters could happen “any minute.” The attack will supposedly come from sleeper cells hidden within the city, even as the government works to track and stop them.

Xi Jinping talks business in Korea. On the second day of his much-watched visit to Seoul, China’s premiere will attend a business forum to reinforce the two countries’ ambitions to complete negotiations for free trade and currency exchange by the end of the year.

The World Cup quarter-finals begin. The eight remaining teams start the battle royal for the trophy. France plays Germany at midnight Friday HKT, and Brazil faces down Colombia at 4am Saturday HKT. Here’s a quick run-down of the teams’ strengths and weaknesses.

Americans wave flags and shoot off fireworks. The United States is celebrating its independence day, and markets are closed.

While you were sleeping

Americans celebrated jobs day. Government data showed the US economy added 288,000 jobs in May, a strong showing that belies unsteady growth data. Here are the most important charts, and a corrective dose of pessimism.

Facebook’s social experiments were even bigger than it admitted. The mood-alteration study that caused such a fuss last week was reportedly just one of “hundreds” of unsupervised studies of how users reacted to changes in the social network, by researchers who were “always trying to alter peoples’ behavior.”

No change from the ECB, but fewer meetings. The European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged while keeping the door open for Federal Reserve-style asset purchases, but the big change is chair Mario Draghi’s plan for bank officials to start publishing minutes of policy meetings but to meet less frequently.

Sweden’s central went from hawk to dove. The bank delivered a bigger-than-expected rate cut, slashing its benchmark rate from 0.75% to 0.25%. The move is intended to combat persistent deflation, which Sweden can’t seem to shake despite its frothy property market.

Two died in an overpass collapse in Brazil. All eyes have been on the country’s infrastructure as it hosts the World Cup, and the tragedy just two miles from Mineirão stadium underscores protesters complaints about lax government planning.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how China’s answer to PayPal is taking on its state-owned banks. “Yu’e Bao’s astonishing growth makes it a huge force of “grassroots interest rate liberalization,” in the words of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch’s David Cui. So dangerous is that force to Chinese banks that the government has threatened a crackdown on Yu’e Bao, including limiting the amount users can transfer from their traditional bank accounts into the electronic payments system Alipay.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Pakistan picked a terrible time to sell its national airline. Hemorrhaging money and threatened by violence, the airline is not an easy asset to move—but the bank that can do it might get its pick of lucrative privatization business.

India can replicate China’s economic miracle. And that’s not bad news for the United States.

Crossing the US-Mexico border is more dangerous than ever. And children are increasingly the most at risk.

To save elephants from poaching, import them to the US. The national parks have lots of room, vigilant rangers, and a perfect climate.

Surprising discoveries

Google’s robotic cameras are wandering around museums and taking selfies. Which raises the question: Does a robot have a “self”?

3D printing could help China clean up mountains of waste. One man’s trash is another man’s prefabricated house.

America imported nearly $4 million in US flags from China last year. That brings a new meaning to the phrase “freedom isn’t free.”

You can ditch the stereotype of the apologetic Canadian. Compared to Scots, at least, Canadians say “sorry” a lot less.

“Flushable” wipes really aren’t flushable. A growing fondness for moist towelettes instead of toilet paper is bringing grief to sewage engineers everywhere.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tiny American flags, and robot selfies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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