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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Russia v Ukraine, Coke + Monster, Berkshire’s bounce, robot cookery

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

The UK continues to pull ahead of Europe. In contrast with yesterday’s stagnant result in the euro zone, the UK’s second-quarter GDP is forecast to be up 3.1% on the same period last year, and could at last return to its pre-recession level; an estimate last month put the economy 0.2% ahead of its 2008 peak.

Will Shinzo Abe visit the Yasukuni shrine? On the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, Japan’s prime minister is under pressure to visit the memorial to fallen soldiers. But he infuriated China and South Korea when he went in December to the shrine, which also honors several convicted war criminals, and might stay away this time to improve the odds of a summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Pakistan’s long march. Opposition leaders Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri, who say the May 2013 elections were rigged, led a march from Lahore to Islamabad on Thursday, Pakistani independence day, to demand the resignation of prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The march should reach Islamabad early on Friday, and a clash with police looks likely.

Russia and Ukraine’s game of cat and mouse. The Russian aid convoy that Ukraine fears may be a war convoy is on its way to a rebel-controlled checkpoint, instead of a government-controlled post as Kyiv has demanded. There could be a showdown if Russia tries to get the trucks in without their being inspected.

While you were sleeping

Better news from Iraq, not so good from Indonesia. Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to step down, US food drops and airstrikes have broken the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar, and the Yazidis are apparently in less danger than previously thought. But some Indonesians have began to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State.

Coke will buy a piece of Monster. The two companies have agreed a long-term strategic partnership, with Coke buying 16.7% of the energy-drink maker for $2.15 billion; Coke will also transfer its own energy-drink business to Monster and get Monster’s non-energy business in return.

The US has tightened the leash on Israel. The Wall Street Journal revealed that the White House and State Department now insist on reviewing (paywall) even routine military resupply requests from Israel, after it used US shells, obtained through military channels during the recent conflict, to bomb Gaza.

Apple made its assembly lines safer. The tech giant banned two dangerous toxins that can cause cancer, nerve damage, and reproductive problems for factory workers in 22 iPhone and iPad production plants, most of them in China.

Berkshire Hathaway’s stock hit a new milestone. Class A shares of Warren Buffet’s company climbed 1.6% and crossed $200,000 per share for the first time, a marker of the legendary investor’s success. In 1984, the same shares traded at $1,300.

More bad news on Ebola. Sierra Leone lost another top doctor to the virus, Guinea declared a public health emergency, and a new experimental drug may take months to reach West Africa. The epidemic has even spooked citizens in China, where authorities have had to explain that no, it doesn’t turn people into zombies.

Quartz obsession interlude

Adam Epstein on the surprising democratizing power of McDonald’s Wi-Fi. “The two reporters in Ferguson had discovered what many across the US already know—that the local McDonald’s is generally a good bet when you need free and convenient internet accessibility. McDonald’s branches in the US allow people to use their Wi-Fi for free, even without purchasing food. According to the Wall Street Journal, as of last year there were roughly 12,000 McDonald’s locations with free Wi-Fi in the US, almost as many as the 15,000 public libraries with Wi-Fi. And McDonald’s stays open much later than most public libraries—some even operate 24/7.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Airstrikes aren’t enough to take out ISIL. They work best when coordinated by well-trained forces on the ground (paywall).

Canada is handling drones a lot better than the US. Despite problems tracking smaller drones, Canada is cracking down on personal UAVs without certificates.

Social media has given protestors in Ferguson, Missouri a voice. The revolution may not be televised, but it is Vined.

Money won’t buy your kids a future. It will hinder them from success.

Surprising discoveries

Wealth didn’t come early for Warren Buffet. He made 95% of it after his 60th birthday.

One man controls the approval of beer bottle labels in the US. He goes by the name “Battle.”

A restaurant on China is using robots to cook and deliver food. Some greet customers, while others specialize in making dumplings.

Food sells better in clear plastic packaging. Shoppers like to see what they are getting (paywall).

Big asteroids aren’t the scary ones. Small asteroids, no more than piles of rubble that can break up into an equally dangerous cloud of chunks—those are the ones to worry about.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, beer-bottle labels, and robot-fried noodles to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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