What to watch for today
Samsung issues an update on its health. The South Korean consumer-electronics giant is publishing first-quarter guidance. Its stock is already up over 3% thanks to high hopes that the upcoming Galaxy S6—launching later this week—will reverse the company’s profit drops.
The Bank of Australia cuts interest rates. The country’s central bank may well announce a cut from 2.25% to 2% (paywall), hot on the heels of a rate cut back in February. A housing bubble, weak domestic currency, and plummeting iron ore prices are key factors affecting the decision.
China’s foreign minister meets his Russian counterpart. Wang Yi will sit down with Sergei Lavrov ahead of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit next month to commemorate the end of World War II. Some have suggested that Yi’s visit is actually due to the ongoing crisis in Yemen, where Russia has been accused of supplying weapons to the Houthi rebels.
Rand Paul launches his bid for the US presidency. The US senator from Kentucky will be the second Republican to officially announce an intent to run, the first being Ted Cruz. Many are also expecting Jeb Bush to throw his hat into the ring, though he hasn’t given any clues as to when that might happen.
Markets in Hong Kong are closed. The Ching Ming (tomb sweeping) festival gives investors in Hong Kong a break today. As for the rest of the world, trading resumes in Europe after a four-day Easter holiday—the Americans already went back to work yesterday.
While you were sleeping
Kenya began bombing al-Shabaab in Somalia. The country’s air force said it destroyed two of the terrorist group’s camps in retaliation for last week’s brutal massacre of 147 people on a university campus. Kenyan officials are offering 20 million Kenyan shillings (roughly $215,000) for information leading to the capture of an al-Shabaab commander, Mohamed Mohamud, who they say planned it.
Turkey blocked social media again. It shut down access to Twitter and YouTube, as well as to several stories on Turkish news websites with photos of Mehmet Selim Kiraz, a prosecutor who died after being taken hostage in Istanbul last week. Twitter was unblocked after agreeing to take down the images.
Oil prices jumped due to Asian demand. Saudi Arabia raised its price for crude destined to Asian countries by $1 a barrel, causing prices in other countries to also rise; futures in the US and UK were up over 5%. There’s also growing concern the war in Yemen could increase prices because the country controls a key sea lane for oil shipments.
AirAsia announced it’ll start flying to the US. Beginning in November, the budget airline will offer flights from Malaysia’s capital to Honolulu, Hawaii (paywall), with a fuel stop in Japan. Cheap fuel due to the collapse in oil prices is why AirAsia can now offer the route, having previously abandoned routes from Asia to London and Paris in 2012.
Swine flu came to Syria. Two people died from the disease last month, the state news agency reported. The civil war, now in its fifth year, has left the country’s health-care system in near total collapse, and diseases like typhoid, hepatitis, and even polio are spreading. Just last week, donors pledged $3.8 billion in aid for the humanitarian crisis.
Quartz obsession interlude
Steve LeVine tries to crack the Iran nuclear deal. “Disputes have broken out over just what each side agreed to in the nuclear deal between six leading nations and Iran, with one of the chief topics when exactly sanctions will be lifted: Iran has said the restrictions on its sale of oil and its banking system will terminate as soon as the deal is signed in June; the so-called P5+1 group says the sanctions will come off in stages.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
America is no longer an economic powerhouse. China—and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank—are proof positive of that, argues Larry Summers.
Stop forcing kids to learn math. Teach basic arithmetic, sure, but then after that, invest more time in reading and complex problem-solving.
World War Two never really ended in Asia. Territorial disputes continue and tensions are high—but the the Trans-Pacific Partnership could fix that.
It’s time for the US to be more confident in itself. President Barack Obama argues that when you have a $600 billion defense budget, people don’t mess with you (paywall).
America is undermining Egyptian democracy. With the resumption of US military aid, Egypt loses all chances of experiencing change.
The age of personalized cancer drugs is coming. Scientists triggered an immune response in three people with melanoma with vaccines specifically tailored for their tumors.
Your next flight might be non-stick. Dead bugs stuck to an airliner can cut fuel efficiency by up to 6%, but NASA has developed a coating that can fix that.
Your next smartphone could come with a 3D scanner. Researchers at Caltech are working on a tiny sensor you could use for scanning objects to 3D-print them later.
Male mice can sing. They do it to attract female mice, and they even have different tunes depending on the situation; sadly, humans can’t hear them.
Chairs, at least, do grow on trees. This designer has been cultivating them.
Monkeys are ruining the internet. In the Indian city of Varanasi, sacred macaques seem to be snacking on fiber-optic cables laid to carry broadband.