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STAR WARS

Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Deutsche Bank’s fine, GE’s real estate sell-off, Amazon’s drone lift-off, unfairly maligned almonds

By Quartz Staff

What to watch for today

America delivers a show of strength against Putin. A dozen US fighter jets will begin three months of military drills in Bulgaria, in an effort to show NATO allies that the United States is committed to opposing Russian aggression against its neighbors.

Day one of the Summit of the Americas. The two-day conference in Panama will put US president Barack Obama and Cuban president Raúl Castro on the same stage, as the two countries attempt to normalize their relationship.

Carrefour’s quarterly results. The global hypermarket chain is reports first-quarter sales, and investors will be paying close attention to trends in Latin America (paywall), which is expected to provide much of the company’s growth this year. Carrefour is also aggressively renovating stores in France, which is still its biggest market.

Go go mobile gadgets! Samsung’s latest Galaxy smartphones go on sale in 20 countries. Meanwhile, preorders kick off for Apple’s smart watch, though customers won’t have the product in-hand—or on-wrist—until April  24.

“Star Wars” finally goes digital. The beloved sci-fi movies will be available to download for the first time through iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, along with new bonus features.

While you were sleeping

Deutsche Bank could face a record fine over Libor allegations. The bank may have to pay as much as $1.5 billion for allegedly manipulating inter-bank interest rates as it is nears a guilty plea, according to the New York Times (paywall). Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and UBS have paid various agencies $3.5 billion (paywall) so far over Libor-fixing allegations.

The US approved Amazon’s drone testing program. The Federal Aviation Administration gave the e-commerce giant a waiver to test its delivery-by-drone program]. Amazon received a US waiver once before, but approval took so long that the drone it was testing became obsolete.

China’s consumer prices fell short. A lack of demand and low oil prices meant consumer prices rose only 1.4% in March from a year ago, equal to February’s rise and well below the government’s target of “around” 3%. Factory prices fell by 4.6%, their 37th consecutive monthly fall following a 4.8% drop in February.

PC sales started the year on a slow note. Global shipments fell 5.2% to 71.7 million units in the first quarter, according to research from Gartner, though Lenovo and HP both managed to increase their market share. Double-digit declines in desktop sales were offset by growth in notebooks and tablets.

PG&E was ordered to pay $1.6 billion for a pipeline explosion. California ordered the utility to pay a record fine for committing more than 2,000 safety violations in the decade leading up to a 2010 explosion that killed eight people and destroyed dozens of homes. The company may also have to pay up to $1.1 billion in federal fines.

GE is selling its real estate business for $30 billion. Wells Fargo and Blackstone are in talks to purchase GE’s property portfolio, according to Bloomberg, the conglomerate looks to pare down its businesses. As commercial property demand hits levels unseen since 2007, the deal could net GE almost $5 billion in cash.

The US ordered a $200 million supercomputer from Intel. The energy department has chosen Intel, in collaboration with supercomputer supplier Cray, to build what could be the world’s fastest supercomputer, to be delivered in 2018 (paywall). The US commerce department also barred four (paywall) Chinese supercomputer labs from receiving Intel chips, citing conflicts with national security or foreign-policy interests.

Quartz obsession interlude

Manu Balachandran on how India’s biggest corporate fraud unfolded. “The case, which is also called the Enron of India, dates back to 2009. Six years ago, Raju wrote a letter to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and his company’s shareholders, admitting that he had manipulated the company’s earnings, and fooled investors. Nearly $1 billion—or 94% of the cash—on the books was fictitious.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Almonds are not the enemy in California’s drought. They are nutritious and economically valuable, unlike alfalfa.

Putin should heed Russian history. It’s littered with hardliners who paid the price, says the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev.

Virtual reality will never replace real travel. Newfangled goggles don’t offer the unpredictable adventures that make trips memorable.

Iran needs to meet with its Arab neighbors. A regional summit could defuse regional tensions at a critical juncture.

Owning an Apple Watch will make you happier. You’ll stare at your smartphone less (paywall) and interact with the real world more.

Surprising discoveries

Ten billion years ago the universe was full of pink light. Space was ablaze with nebulas that were giving birth to stars.

China has a TV channel that only shows good deeds. It is struggling to find viewers.

Short people are more prone to heart disease. Every 2.5 inches of additional height reduces the risk of coronary disease by 13.5%.

A rundown Nazi resort is getting a makeover. The Prora project on the Baltic Sea is being converted into hotels and apartments.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, California almonds, and televised good deeds to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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