Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Softbank’s next move, Snowden’s permit, secret menus, Swedish muscles

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What to watch for today

Reading tea leaves in China. The CPI and trade balance data for July will be closely watched after they offered conflicting signals last month: Inflation cooled a little more than expected, signaling a possible need for stimulus measures, while exports grew and widened the trade surplus, a sign of recovery.

The Italian senate votes on its own abolition. Prime minister Matteo Renzi’s flagship reform bill would curb the senate’s power and unseat many representatives. This is just step one; the bill, which has received nearly 8,000 amendments, has to make two separate runs through both chambers of parliament.

The Gaza ceasefire elapses. Talks in Cairo continue as the Friday morning deadline looms. While Israel said it was ready to extend the 72-hour ceasefire under current conditions, Hamas held a public rally, saying it won’t continue the truce unless the Gaza Strip blockade is lifted.

SoftBank’s next move. The Japanese telco will face questions at its earnings call (paywall) about its decision this week to call off its attempt to buy T-Mobile, the US’s fourth largest carrier, and merge it into Sprint, which Softbank already owns. Some think that will make it easier to concentrate on a turnaround at Sprint.

While you were sleeping

ISIL made gains in Iraq. Sunni militants have captured the Mosul dam (paywall), the largest in the country, which controls water and electricity for a large territory, from Kurdish forces. The US has begun airdrops of supplies for stricken ethnic minorities who have fled to the mountains, but denied a report that it has bombed the insurgents.

Argentina took the US to court. It asked the International Court of Justice to intervene in its dispute with creditors, saying US judicial rulings that forced the country to default on its debt violated its sovereignty. The Hague court said no dice, ”unless and until” Washington accepts its jurisdiction.

Russia gave Edward Snowden three more years. Russia has given the NSA whistleblower a residence permit valid until 2017, putting a further strain on US-Russia relations. He has to wait five years to apply for citizenship, and while the permit lets him travel abroad, there aren’t too many places he can go. Plus, he’ll be on the Soviet diet.

John Kerry went to Afghanistan to ask “what the hell?” The US secretary of state made a surprise visit to mediate between the two feuding Afghan presidential candidates disputing the June elections, two days after an Afghan soldier shot dead an American general at a training base in Kabul.

Australia’s economy doesn’t look too good. The country’s unemployment rate shot up to 6.4%, the highest level since 2002, thanks to a slowdown in China that has taken a toll on the commodities sector. But small stimulus measures in China could bring joblessness to heel again.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Kirsten Narula on the real story behind “secret menus.” Secret menus exist at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Chipotle, Jamba Juice, and other restaurants, too. They’re hardly secrets, of course, but the word ‘menu’ connotes a curation of sorts, intentionality on behalf of the food establishment—and that’s at odds with the origin stories of most of these items.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The West should arm the Kurds. A strong Kurdistan is the only hope for what remains of Iraq.

The European Central Bank needs to stop dithering. The threat of deflation in the euro zone is only getting worse.

Africa doesn’t just need more money, it needs better data. Otherwise nobody will really know how the money is being spent.

China’s real problem is its leftover men. Men under 30 outnumber their female counterparts (paywall) by about 20 million.

There are four good reasons to take a one-way trip to Mars. Aside from helping humanity, you get the fame, the challenge, and the money (for your relatives back home, anyway).

Surprising discoveries

Singapore is giving its senior citizens control over stoplights. A swipe of a card gives them more time to cross an intersection.

You can get arrested in Sweden for being too muscular. An “unusually large” man was jailed after the cops suspected steroids.

Britons spend more time on media than they do sleeping. TV, radio and internet use has jumped more than two hours a day since 2010.

62,000 chicken heads reversed a rabies outbreak. Swiss doctors hid the vaccine in them for rabid animals to eat.

Mark Zuckerberg carried around a samurai sword in his office. He used it to motivate his staff.

Tuesday mornings are prime time for sexting. 10am to noon are the sauciest hours of the week.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, unorthodox motivational techniques, and sexts to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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