Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—More strife in Yemen, Gazprom’s woes, EU migrants, thumbnail trackpads

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What to watch for today

Xi Jinping addresses Pakistan’s parliament. China’s president continues his state visit, having signed a $46 billion investment plan and inaugurated work on several projects (paywall) on Monday. The goal is to connect China to the Middle East and Europe via Pakistan, with 3,000 kilometers worth of roads, railways, and pipelines.

Taco Bell comes back to Japan. The American fast food chain specializing in Mexican cuisine returns to the country (paywall) after pulling out several decades ago. There will be items on the menu designed for local palates, including a shrimp and avocado burrito.

Iran talks resume. The general framework agreed earlier this month still needs to turn into an actual deal on the future of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran and six world powers now begin that process, with a self-imposed June 30 deadline. If they succeed, sanctions against Iran will begin being lifted.

Gazprom helps out Greece. Alexei Miller, CEO of Russia’s state-owned gas giant, is having a sit-down (paywall) with Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras where—if one news report is to be believed—he’ll advance the debt-laden country as much as €5 billion ($5.4 billion). Greece has several IMF payments due in the next few weeks.

The EU hits out at Gazprom. Antitrust regulators will formally accuse the company (paywall) of abusing its dominance of the gas supply in several European countries. Roughly three-fifths of the gas used in eastern and central Europe is Russian, according to Gazprom.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s sentencing hearing. The jury that found the 21-year-old guilty on all counts for the Boston Marathon bombing in 2003, which killed three and injured 260, now starts deliberating whether to sentence him to death. At least some of the victims want him to live.

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. Companies scheduled to report today include chip designers ARM and Broadcom; internet giant Yahoo; US fast-food chain Chipotle; and Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut.

While you were sleeping

Europe agreed too many migrants are dying. After some 700 people lost their lives in a shipwreck on Sunday, then three other boats issued distress signals, an emergency EU meeting in Luxembourg agreed to spend more on rescuing migrants and preventing smuggling, as well as efforts to stabilize Libya, a springboard for many migrants.

A missile base in Yemen was blown up… Homes nearby were flattened and at least 28 civilians were killed after a Saudi air strike reportedly hit the facility in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. Hundreds more civilians were said to have been wounded.

..And America sent an aircraft carrier there. The USS Theodore Roosevelt will be join other American ships in the region to help intercept any Iranian ships carrying arms to supply the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The US Navy has been upping its forces in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea.

GE seemed set to let go of its lending arm. According to reports, the conglomerate is in talks to sell its $74 billion commercial lending and leasing portfolio to another bank, possibly Wells Fargo. If true, that would mean it is moving faster than expected (paywall) to shed $200 billion of assets and get out of banking.

Virgin Galactic said it’ll test a new spaceship this year. The company said it’s still working toward carrying paying passengers into space, despite a fatal crash last October. The CEO offered few details, but did say 700 people had placed deposits to eventually be flown into sub-orbit.

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on the future of work. “It’s possible to rank employees in entirely new ways in the age of big data. People in sales are used to seeing their numbers compared. But now everything from how well truck drivers drive, to individual author web traffic and how quickly engineers write code can be quantified in great detail. Companies need to be careful about how they use that information.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Venture capital in France is broken. There are a bunch of structural obstacles to it—plus, the country just doesn’t like entrepreneurs.

Marijuana is not a gateway to harder drugs. The notion that it is is kept alive by political scaremongering, vested interests, and flawed research.

Western financial institutions are hypocritical. They tell poor countries how to fix their economies, but they’re not as demanding when rich countries mess up.

Russia belongs in the EU. Europe isn’t a club of liberal democracies, but an alliance of countries that lost their empires.

We don’t know how to fight extreme poverty. The countries with the worst problems simply don’t have good enough data to know what works and what doesn’t.

Tampons need to be put under the microscope. Though they’re used by women around the world, there’s almost zero research on their long-term safety.

Surprising discoveries

A trackpad for your thumbnail. Researchers at MIT have developed a touch sensor that you could wear on your thumb and use to control all your devices.

The world of China’s online hostesses. There are some 50 video chat services, on which women provide nothing salacious, just conversation, songs or dances for lonely men.

Designer labels help you get jobs. In a study that asked Koreans to pick the most qualified candidate from a choice of three, a Louis Vuitton logo sealed the deal.

Take a flight in R2-D2. All Nippon Airways will begin flying a Boeing Dreamliner painted like the robot from the Star Wars films.

Drones can now feed themselves. The US Navy has successfully tested the process of refueling an unmanned aircraft in flight.

Why you love your dog. Researchers discovered that when humans look into a dog’s eyes, they begin secreting oxytocin, aka the love hormone.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, designer clothes, and puppy photos to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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