Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—US vs. Iran in Yemen, Qualcomm picks Samsung, Morgan Stanley soars, R2-D2 Airways

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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.

Iran talks resume. The general framework deal reached earlier this month still needs specifics on the future of Iran’s nuclear program and the end of Western sanctions. Iran and six world powers now begin that process, with a self-imposed June 30 deadline.

The EU takes on 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.

…As Gazprom helps out Greece. CEO Alexei Miller will meet with (paywall) with Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras about advancing the debt-laden country as much as €5 billion ($5.4 billion) in cash. Greece has several IMF payments due in the next few weeks.

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. Companies scheduled to report quarterly results include Yahoo, Chipotle, and Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut.

While you were sleeping

Qualcomm chose Samsung to make its next chip. The South Korean electronics company will manufacture the next Snapdragon processor, likely destined for 2016’s high-end Android smartphones, according to Re/code. The deal is a sign of increasing “co-opetition” in the tech sector between companies including Samsung, Qualcomm, and Apple.

Morgan Stanley reported its best quarter since 2007. Bumper revenue from bond and equity trading helped push the investment bank’s first-quarter income up 59% to $2.4 billion, ahead of expectations.

A giant US poultry farm was hit with bird flu. Some 5.3 million chickens at an egg-laying operation in Iowa will be euthanized after an outbreak of H5N2 avian influenza, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The disease is not dangerous to humans but can kill an entire flock with 48 hours.

IBM’s numbers were ugly, but could have been worse. The IT giant reported first-quarter income of $2.33 billion, from $2.38 billion a year earlier, but handily beat analyst expectations. Revenue fell for the 12th consecutive quarter, which IBM blamed on currency fluctuations and efforts to transition to a cloud-based service company.

Iran charged a Washington Post reporter with espionage. Jason Rezaian, the newspaper’s Tehran bureau chief, was also charged accused of  ”collaborating with hostile governments” and two other serious crimes that could result in a 20-year prison sentence. The US has controversially not requested his release as part of an Iranian nuclear deal.

America sent an aircraft carrier to Yemen. The USS Theodore Roosevelt is joining other American ships in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea to help intercept any Iranian ships carrying arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and to support Saudi airstrikes against the group. A convoy of Iranian ships are reportedly also headed to the Gulf of Aden.

GE discussed a lending sell-off with Wells Fargo. The US conglomerate is in talks to sell its $74 billion commercial lending and leasing portfolio to the bank. That would represent a large chunk of $165 billion General Electric has earmarked for sale as part of its plan to exit the banking business.

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. Aside from the structural obstacles, the country simply doesn’t like entrepreneurs.

Marijuana is not a gateway drug. That notion is kept alive by political scaremongering, vested interests, and flawed research.

The World Bank and IMF are hypocrites. They demand that poor countries fix their economies, but are less demanding when rich countries mess up.

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

Tampons need to be put under the microscope. There is almost zero research on their long-term safety.

Surprising discoveries

The Australian prime minister can down a beer in seven seconds. Tony Abbott was responding to chants from football players at a pub.

HBO shut down a bar screening of Game of Thrones. The network wants everybody to pay to see the most pirated show ever.

A designer label is a useful interview tool. A Louis Vuitton logo provided a clear advantage in one Korean study.

You can take a flight in R2-D2. All Nippon Airways is flying a Boeing Dreamliner painted like the robot from Star Wars.

People really are in love with their dogs. Looking into a dog’s eyes results in the secretion of oxytocin, aka the love hormone.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, interview outfits, and beer-chugging videos to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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