Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Eid al-Fitr, GSK’s future, Ebola’s victims, hitchhiking robot

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What to watch for today

Betting on Argentina paying off the vultures? Argentina does not have a meeting scheduled today with its court-appointed mediator, though a judge last week ordered round-the-clock talks with the country’s holdout creditors. Thursday is the deadline to avoid a default in a dispute that has dragged on for 13 years.

Data from the world’s biggest economies. The US releases pending home sales figures for June, with conflicting signs over whether it’s business as usual, while Japan’s jobless rate and household spending give new insight into the Japanese recovery.

It’s Eid al-Fitr for millions of Muslims. Both in North America, which uses astronomical calculations, and in Middle Eastern countries, which use the phases of the moon, Sunday was declared the last day of Ramadan.

The First World War began a hundred years ago. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Nations across Europe will begin the marking the centenary. Britain is spending £50 million on four years of events and ceremonies.

Over the weekend

Palestinians in Gaza had a brief respite. A 12-hour ceasefire was declared but Israel ended the truce after continued rocket attacks from Hamas. The militant group then declared its own ceasefire—which the Israelis in turn refused to recognize. More than 1,000 people have died in the nearly three-week conflict.

The US pointed a finger at Russia. The State Department released satellite photos that it said show Russian artillery firing across the border at the Ukrainian forces that are battling separatist rebels. The fighting has also prevented foreign investigators getting to the MH17 crash site.

GlaxoSmithKline is mulling a breakup. Its CEO said the UK’s biggest drugmaker might split its consumer healthcare business—which is relaunching next year as a joint venture with Novartis—off from its pharmaceutical side (paywall). If so it would be the latest step in an ongoing big reshuffle in the drug industry.      

Ebola killed a top Liberian doctor. Samuel Brisbane was one of the most prominent victims of the outbreak that has killed some 600 people in three countries. The disease also reached Nigeria on Friday via a sick airline passenger, raising fears that it could spread further afield.

Shinzo Abe made his first trip to the Caribbean. The Japanese prime minister was in Trini­dad and Toba­go, a brief stop before departing for Mexico, Colom­bia, Chile and Brazil.

Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France. He’s the first Italian in 16 years to take the cycling trophy and the sixth to win the French, Spanish and Italian grand tours.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on why Western tech giants shouldn’t worry about Chinese copycatting, but about what happens when it stops. “China’s near neighbor, South Korea, set the precedent for Chinese tech companies’ evolution. ‘In a region of fast growth, since the 1960s Korea has increased its per-capita-GDP more quickly than any of its neighbors,’ the consultancy firm McKinsey notes. That’s also the period during which the country started to move from manufacturing high-end components for Western gadget makers to competing with them.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US government should legalize marijuana. Even the New York Times editorial board thinks so.

The BRICS have nothing in common. “Except that they are large, emerging, and not-the-US.”

Croatia is the next EU crisis country. Growth is stagnating (paywall) and reforms are too slow.

Fly Malaysia Airlines. Air travel in general has a stunning safety record.

Surprising discoveries

The Sixth Extinction is upon us. The last time this happened, the dinosaurs disappeared.

Golf courses are banned in China. To get one built, call it a “resort.”

A robot is hitchhiking across Canada. It’s a computer brain wired into a body made of leftover junk and will take selfies with anyone who gives it a ride.

Koreans are drinking more good coffee. Fresh bean imports are up, while processed coffee imports are way down.

It’s really hard to avoid flying over conflict zones. Eliminating them all makes for pretty convoluted routes.

Up for 44 years, gone in 10 seconds. Watch the controlled destruction of the three towers of the Didcot coal-fired power station in the UK.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, World War I tributes, and selfies with vagrant robots to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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