Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Second NSA leaker, “Zero Hour” in Iraq, Amazon tax probe, 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 territory claimed by both India and Pakistan, where he will find intense security preparations and separatists staging a “shutdown” in protest of Indian rule.

“Zero hour” in Iraq.Insurgents are rallying as part of a plan to take over Baghdad using sleeper cells within the city, which one militant told Reuters could happen “any minute.”” Saudi Arabia has deployed 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq.

Xi Jinping talks business in South Korea. On the second day of his much-watched visit to Seoul, China’s president 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.

World Cupdate. It’s the quarter finals! France v Germany is at 5pm (BST), while Brazil v Colombia is at 9pm. 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 there are closed.

While you were sleeping

The NSA may have a second leaker. A report by German researchers that claims the United States logs the communications of anyone who even searches for privacy-enhancing software tools has raised speculation that there is an NSA source other than Edward Snowden.  

China and South Korea chastised North Korea. Xi Jinping and and his South Korean counterpart Park Guen-hye said the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea should be strongly discouraged, and that six-party talks should resume.

Amazon may have EU tax troubles. The EU has ordered Luxembourg to hand over details of its tax agreement (paywall) with the online retail giant. Apple, Starbucks, and Fiat are also being investigated.

The cardinal of Hong Kong warned the pope not to come to China. Pope Francis would only be “manipulated” if he visits Beijing, said Joseph Zen. Relations between China and the Vatican has warmed in recent years, raising speculation that he might visit the mainland in August.

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

America should adopt the world’s elephants. Their numbers are dwindling in Asia and Africa, but they’d be right at home in the US.

Pakistan picked a terrible time to sell its national airline. But the bank that can get the job done may get its pick of lucrative privatization deals.

Canada is acting very un-Canada-like with the environment. The country is on a mission to develop its energy industry and is sacrificing plenty to get there.

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. Children are increasingly the most at risk.

Surprising discoveries

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

Plants can hear themselves getting eaten. The sound of chomping caterpillars prompts the release of defensive chemicals.

“Six times eight” is the toughest sum. Multiplications with medium-sized numbers catch the most people out.

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

“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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