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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—EU slams Google, US workers protest, Cuba rehabilitated, armadillo warning

By Quartz

What to watch for today

China slows again. After recent, disappointing trade data, investors expect first-quarter GDP will show a slowdown to 7% growth versus last year’s 7.4%. That would still meet the target Beijing set last month, however. Curiously, China’s stock market is booming; Shanghai’s index is the best performing in Asia.

The EU throws the book at Google. Brussels will accuse the American search giant of breaking antitrust rules by favoring its services over those of rivals in search results. The charges stem from an investigation that’s been five years in the making. The EU’s digital chief isn’t a fan (paywall) of US internet companies.

Etsy prices its IPO. The online marketplace for artisanal goods is expected to price at between $14 and $16 a share. That would let the firm raise as much as $267 million (paywall) at a $1.8 billion valuation, making it one of the largest tech offerings expected this year.

Workers protest low wages in over 200 US cities. The pay raise McDonald’s announced earlier this month applies only to staff at restaurants it owns, and roughly 90% of McDonald’s outlets in the US are franchises. Walmart employees and a raft of others will also join the protests.

Narendra Modi, Canadian rock star. Some 10,000 people are expected to hear the Indian prime minister speak at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. Modi’s winding up a global tour and making the first visit by an Indian head of state to Canada in over 40 years.

While you were sleeping

Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent sought France’s blessing to wed. The heads of both firms met president François Hollande. Nokia, looking to overtake Swedish rival Ericsson, is in talks to merge with the French company; together they’d be valued at over €40 billion ($42.8 billion), but France is worried about job cuts.

Sierra Leone’s children went back to school. The 1.8 million kids had stayed home for nine months as the country battled the Ebola virus. The epidemic, now slowing, has killed over 10,600 people in West Africa, more than 3,800 of them in Sierra Leone. The US Centers for Disease Control is also testing a new vaccine in the country (paywall).

Cuba could be coming off the US terror blacklist. President Barack Obama submitted paperwork to Congress arguing for Cuba’s removal from the US’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism, where it has languished for 23 years. Congress has 45 days to object (paywall), which it might do.

The IMF and WTO projected different moods. The International Monetary Fund’s latest economic outlook was almost identical to its last one in January, predicting global GDP growth of 3.5% this year and 3.8% next year. The World Trade Organization, however, cut its estimates for growth this year to 3.3%, down from the 4.0% it forecast six months ago. For 2016, though, it is predicting 4.0%.

Wells Fargo disappointed, JP Morgan delighted. Wells Fargo’s 18-quarter run of profit growth came to an end (paywall), with earnings of $5.80 billion versus $5.89 billion a year ago. Meanwhile, JP Morgan Chase, the US’s biggest bank, beat the street, posting $5.91 billion in earnings (paywall).

Tensions returned in eastern Ukraine. Six soldiers have been killed and a dozen injured since Monday, according to a military spokesperson. It’s the worst fighting the area has seen since February, after a ceasefire was signed. Earlier this week, foreign ministers from Ukraine and Russia met with their French and German counterparts to talk peace (paywall).

Quartz obsession interlude

Jack Aldwinckle on a simple solution to improve people’s lives. “The lights’ beauty lies in their simplicity: A 3-watt LED lamp is connected to a controller and a battery pack, which is powered by a small solar panel. The light fixture’s protective casing is an old plastic soda bottle. Each lamp costs around 176,000 Colombian pesos ($70) to build, and nothing to run.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Nigeria will show Boko Haram what’s what. Muhammadu Buhari, who becomes president next month, says the terrorist group is his country’s responsibility (paywall).

German luxury cars are too cheap. The rising sales of BMWs and Audis are presenting their manufacturers with an interesting dilemma.

Yanis Varoufakis needs to get his act together. Greece’s finance minister is relying on his charisma and brilliance instead of coming up with a coherent plan.

Being short is good for you. Never mind that new study correlating heart disease and height; numerous others show that short people tend to live longer and healthier lives.

The Apple Watch will make the distraction problem worse. A vibrating touch screen on your wrist will do everything but help you stay focused.

Surprising discoveries

A simple test for cancer. Researchers can detect stomach cancer just by testing your breath for certain particles.

A new high bar for the minimum wage. A small American payments processor is going to make its starting salary $70,000 a year.

Watch out, Elon Musk. NASA is working on its own electric car—more like a golf cart, but it has special wheels that let it pull off some impressive tricks.

Your next piece of furniture may be a little moldy. A furniture company wants to replace the formaldehyde in particle board with mycelium, the stuff mushrooms are made of.

Don’t shoot armadillos. A man wounded his mother-in-law when he tried to kill an armadillo and the shot ricocheted off its carapace.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pay slips, and golf cart stunt videos to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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