Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Tencent OS, dotcom redux, fizzy drinks fizzle, the Buffett diet

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What to watch for today

Tencent trials an Android remix. The 200 lucky people chosen by one of China’s largest internet companies start testing its new mobile operating system (paywall), aptly called Tencent OS, which is based on Google’s Android software. Tencent competitor Alibaba is also working on an Android variant, Aliyun; it invested $590 million in a local device maker named Meizu last month.

Binyamin Netanyahu pleas with the US Congress. The Israeli prime minister gives a long-awaited and highly divisive speech at the invitation of Republicans, arguing that a deal with Iran on its nuclear program must not happen. Support for Netanyahu on US soil has been going up. In Israel, with an election in two weeks, he’s weakening.

Europe talks Ebola and the environment. Officials from Europe, Africa, and aid agencies will meet to discuss how to finish off the now retreating epidemic (though there’s a worrying resurgence in Sierra Leone), and rebuild in its aftermath. The European Commission will also publish a five-year report on the state of the environment in Europe.

Italy contemplates its high-speed future. The government will probably approve a plan to inject €6 billion ($6.7 billion) into replacing copper cables with fiber-optic ones, to create a broadband network that will reach 85% of the country’s population in five years.

While you were sleeping

The Nasdaq returned to its peak. The stock index climbed above 5,000 for the first time since the great dotcom bust of 2000-01. While it remains tech-heavy, the Nasdaq’s composition has shifted over time to older, steadier companies that generate solid earnings, in stark contrast to the flimsy business models frequently found in the late 1990s.

Google confirmed it wants to be a cellular provider. The internet giant isn’t going to build its own cell towers, though; instead, it announced, it’s going to lease capacity from existing operators in the US. The service, due to launch in “the coming months“, may be detailed at the upcoming Google I/O conference scheduled for May 28.

Pepsi and Coke felt Russia’s pain. Each of the soft-drink makers is going to close a factory in Russia (paywall). For Pepsi, the news hits even harder since Russia is its largest market after the US, providing 7% of its total revenues. But in 2014, those revenues fell by 10%. The two closures will affect roughly 500 workers.

Ukraine’s death toll crossed 6,000. The UN’s human-rights body said the year-long conflict in the country’s eastern region has also displaced over a million people. A meeting between the US and Russian foreign ministers in Geneva to talk Ukraine and other things was described as “less than amicable.” (Just look at their facial expressions.)

North Korea waved its fist. Pyongyang responded to the annual US-South Korean joint military exercises by firing two missiles into the sea. The ratcheting-up of tensions is now practically routine: Ahead of the drills in 2013, North Korea threatened to use its nuclear weapons.

Iraqi forces began a big push against ISIL. State media said the army and air force, as well as Shiite and Sunni militias, are battling the terrorist group to retake control of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, which it has held since last summer. That’ll be an important milestone in the fight to eventually retake the larger city of Mosul.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on China’s latest monetary predicament. “For decades, China has been the global epicenter of cash inflows, thanks to its huge trade surplus and surging foreign investment. No longer. Rapidly slowing inflation is making it harder and harder for Chinese companies to pay down their huge pile of debts. That disinflation is getting creepily close to deflation, when prices start falling. That’s pushing China closer and closer to a liquidity trap.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Drones will revolutionize Africa. The lack of infrastructure means ”flying donkeys” will have the same kind of impact on African economies as mobile phones did.

What Netanyahu says to Congress doesn’t matter. The mere act of his speaking there is symbolic enough.

Boris Nemtsov’s murder continues the Russian narrative. Putin’s in control, and if you do anything to discredit his rule, you’ll pay the price.

Narendra Modi’s budget nails it. India’s prime minister has identified what the country needs—infrastructure investment—and he’s dedicated to restoring growth.

We need to have a talk about painkillers. Specifically, opioids, which are killing people and creating addiction (paywall), and may not even be much good for chronic pain.

Surprising discoveries

Warren Buffett eats like a six-year-old. The man drinks five cans of Coca-Cola a day and has ice cream for breakfast.

These aren’t the toilets you’re looking for. Chinese consumers buying luxury Japanese toilets are furious that they’re actually made domestically.

If you have nothing nice to say, keep it to yourself. A man in Turkey has been fined for emotional abuse after telling his wife he doesn’t love her anymore.

Owning a village has never been this easy. For roughly $750 a day, an 11th-century Hungarian hamlet (population 18 people and numerous farm animals) will let you rent all its houses and be named deputy mayor.

Iceland banned beer until 1989. The country didn’t want to be like its hedonistic neighbor—Denmark.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Japanese toilets, and mayoral insignia to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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