Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Iraq’s wishlist, Russian arms sales, Chinese markets, Korean fables

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Iraq’s wishlist from Washington. Haidar al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, and will meet US president Barack Obama and probably ask for more weapons to fight the Islamic State. During the weekend, the terrorist group took control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery.

Narendra Modi wraps up his world tour. India’s leader has been to France to discuss nuclear energy; Germany to discuss deeper trade ties; and is heading to Canada to deliver a speech to an expected 10,000 people on Wednesday. It’s been more than 40 years since an Indian prime minister visited the country.

Ukraine and Russia talk gas. It’s yet another EU-mediated parley between the two nations (paywall). Last year, Russia cut off its gas supply to Ukraine. Several months later, the taps were turned back on, but disagreements continue. More than 10% of gas bound for the rest of Europe flows through Ukraine, but that may change come 2019.

The US Congress begins chipping away at an Iran deal. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will start drafting a law that lets Congress review (paywall) any decision to lift sanctions on Iran. President Obama would still get the final say, but the law would certainly complicate any nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries.

SpaceX tries again. On Monday the commercial rocket company scrubbed the test flight and landing of a reusable rocket that could make space launches much cheaper. It will try again at 4:10pm US eastern time on Tuesday.

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. America’s biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase, reports its first quarter results. Investors are expecting at least a 9.5% year-on-year increase in earnings. Intel is also posting results, though with a new reporting structure. UK inflation is due. And the IMF publishes its latest global outlook.

While you were sleeping

Greece dropped the D-word. Sources told the FT that the country plans to default (paywall) on debt payments it owes the IMF in May and June unless it can reach a deal with creditors to release more bailout funds. Greece has been warning it’s about to run out of cash for a while; this looks like an attempt to increase the pressure on creditors.

Marco Rubio tossed his hat into the ring. The Republican senator from Florida is the fourth person to officially declare his candidacy for the 2016 US presidential election, following fellow Republicans Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Rubio, at 43 the youngest candidate, told potential donors he is “uniquely qualified” for the job.

IBM, Apple, and health giants teamed up. The tech firms and various drug and medical device companies will join forces to provide data (paywall) from wearers of the Apple Watch to insurers and doctors, which will be used to tailor treatments or contribute to medical trials. Dozens of apps already exist for Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit platforms.

Russia lifted a ban on arms sales to Iran… Though an Iran nuclear deal is not yet done, president Vladimir Putin has apparently decided it’s near enough and has ruled that Moscow may now fulfill a 2007 contract to sell $800 million-worth of S-300 air defense systems to Tehran. The US and Israel aren’t best pleased.

…and confirmed an arms contract with China. A batch of the S-300’s more advanced successor, the S-400, has been sold to China, the head of the state arms export agency confirmed. The price of deal is rumored to be $3 billion.

Two intellectual giants died. Germany’s Günter Grass, the novelist, artist, and winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature, died aged 87, and Uruguay’s Eduardo Galeano, the journalist and novelist who was a touchstone of the Latin American left, died aged 74.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on the recent buzz in Chinese stock markets. “Last November, when China allowed mainland residents to trade shares in Hong Kong and Hong Kong investors to access previously closed off Chinese companies, there was widespread speculation that tidal waves of money would start to flow between mainland China and Hong Kong. Those expectations fell flat—until now.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

There’s no such thing as a humane execution. One US state is thinking of using nitrogen gas on its prisoners, but death is death.

The ATM still has a future. Even in a world of digital finance, there’s more cash sloshing about than ever.

To stop the Houthis, stop Iran. Yemen’s president, currently in exile, argues that the crisis in his country, and the rest of the Middle East, is being fueled by Iran’s thirst for power (paywall).

There’s déjà vu in the markets. Borrowing costs have been low for so long that investors are starting to take on a lot more risk, says the man who predicted the 2007 financial crisis.

Turkey isn’t really a democracy. The government is doing a splendid job censoring free speech in the run-up to parliamentary elections in June.

Don’t ask to meet for coffee. Businesspeople don’t have the kind of free time you think they do, so unless you’re a large client, stick to email.

Surprising discoveries

Kim Jong-un was a child prodigy. North Korean students are taught that their Dear Leader learned how to drive at age three and was a master yachtsman at nine.

Competitiveness makes men so predictable. When a heterosexual male is seated next to a more attractive man, he’ll make riskier bets.

Your iPad can’t do this. America’s DARPA team has created an Android tablet that lets soldiers on the ground call in an airstrike in as little as four minutes. (It also has the most contrived acronym ever.)

It’s good to carry a few extra pounds. A new study has found that being obese reduces your risk of dementia—if you live that long, of course.

To cure baldness, pull your hair out. In a study done on mice, plucking 200 hairs led to over 1,000 growing back in their place.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Dear Leader achievements, and tweezers to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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