Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Cement deal unstuck, Tiffany earnings, Malcolm Fraser dies, Clapton in Sanskrit

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What to watch for today

Tunisia tightens security after a terror attack. Additional security will be deployed to protect Tunisia’s largest cities, after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the deadly museum attack earlier this week and warned of more violence to come.

Putin visits Kazakhstan. Russia’s head of state will meet his Kazakh counterpart, as well as the president of Belarus, in a meeting rescheduled after Putin’s mysterious disappearance earlier this month.

The EU hosts gas talks between Ukraine and Russia. Brussels will bring together officials from the two countries to resolve a dispute over the price of Russian gas piped to Ukraine. The temporary agreement brokered by the EU expires at the end of March.

Can Tiffany & Co give investors something to smile about? The US jewelry company’s fourth-quarter earnings are expected to underwhelm due to a strong dollar, a lack of tourists to the US, and litigation costs in Europe.

While you were sleeping

The world’s biggest cement merger is back. Switzerland-based cement manufacturer Holcim and France’s Lafarge agreed on compromises to resume a $40 billion merger. The companies had disagreed over key issues, such as the new company’s strategy.

Credit Suisse’s boss got a (very small) pay cut. Brady Dougan’s pay fell to a mere 9.7 million Swiss francs ($9.8 million), from 9.79 million francs the year before, after the Swiss bank’s large legal costs led it to miss some profit targets. Dougan will be replaced in June by Tidjane Thiam of Prudential, a British insurer.

Facebook Messenger will become a platform. Third party developers will soon be able to offer services to users via the mobile messaging app, according to TechCrunch. That would make Messenger much more like WeChat, which is halting its international expansion.

European leaders met to discuss—what else—Greece. Late-night talks led to yet another joint statement about how Athens needs to draw up a more detailed list of reforms in return for badly needed bailout funds. “Not much has happened in the last few weeks,” lamented German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Chinese business confidence fell for a third consecutive month. The MNI China Business Indicator fell to 52.2 in March, from 52.8 in February (paywall), but remained above the 50.0 level that separates confidence from pessimism. The index, which surveys publicly-listed companies, fell despite central bank stimulus measures.

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser died. Fraser, a Liberal Party leader, became the unelected leader of Australia in 1975 after engineering the ouster of Labor Party head Gough Whitlam. Fraser went on to win three general elections, supported immigration, an end to South African apartheid, and built the foundations of Australia’s mineral export industry. He died aged 84, following a short illness.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jonah Goodman on an upcoming artistic experiment with our senses. “Imagine you’re in an art gallery, studying a portrait with a red background. Does your interpretation of it change if you taste ketchup while you look? Or smell blood? Or both? Art lovers will soon be able to find out for themselves at Tate Sensorium, an upcoming exhibition at London art museum Tate Britain, which uses interactive technology to experiment with how our senses change the way we look at visual art.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Tunisia is in danger of returning to authoritarianism. The government may have to get tougher to curb radical groups.

Where will America’s first car-free city be? New York has the highest share of car-free households, but Boston is better-poised to go carless.

TV’s current “golden age” is unsustainable. We’re at peak funding for great shows, and the only way is down.

Don’t blame the fashion industry for anorexia. It is a serious disease, not a fashion whim.

Is Richard Branson about to take on Elon Musk? The entrepreneur said one day Virgin may be ”competing with the Tesla in the car business.”

India’s prime minister needs to rethink his reform strategy. Narendra Modi’s incremental changes have big risks attached to them.

Surprising discoveries

A Japanese company made a $7,900 pair of bicycle wheels. Spin them at 18mph (29km/h) and they take six minutes to slow to a halt.

Now you can enjoy Eric Clapton in Sanskrit. “Leela” is a popular cover of “Layla” in India.

A new blood test shows whether a patient requires antibiotics. That could help reduce overuse of the drugs.

The US Congress embraces GIFs. The House Judiciary Committee explained its opposition to the president’s immigration stance using a list of GIFs of white people.

Orangutans have learned to disguise their voices. They alter the pitch of their calls to deter predators.

Not all churches embrace the homeless. A San Francisco church installed a system that poured water on sleepers outside its doors.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, voice manipulation techniques, and “Layla” covers to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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