Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Petrobras accounts, shrinking Russia, pharma mergers, venomous painkillers

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What to watch for today

Day one of the Shanghai Auto Show. The press have already seen most of the vehicles, but today the public gets to stroll the halls. Buick unveiled the Verano, a compact aimed at the Chinese market. Cadillac, meanwhile, showed off a hybrid version of its luxury car, the CT6.

Comcast and Time Warner face questioning. The American media behemoths will explain to a Congressional committee why they should be allowed to merge into a firm with 57% share (paywall) of the US broadband market. The case they made to regulators isn’t too convincing.

German commuters face delays. Passenger train drivers begin a two day strike. Members of the GDL union want more pay and shorter hours. Late last year, six strikes were held in a nine-week period.

Petrobras comes clean about 2014. Brazil’s state-owned oil company will publish audited financial results. They should show how much it has had to write down as a result of a huge corruption scandal, which has already toppled senior management and sent shockwaves through Brazil’s economy.

Two Al-Jazeera journalists are back in Egyptian court. Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed stand accused of spreading lies to aid the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood leader who served briefly as Egyptian president, has just been jailed for 20 years.

Earnings day… includes AT&T, Coca-Cola, eBay, Facebook, Hyundai, McDonald’s, Qualcomm, and SK Hynix.

…and Earth Day. Find your local Earth Day event, and if you go to celebrate, make sure you don’t leave any trash behind.

While you were sleeping

Russia’s economy is officially shrinking. GDP fell 2% in the first quarter. The last contraction was in 2009. Assuming oil prices hover around $50 a barrel, Russia’s central bank estimates the economy may slide as much as 4% this year, more than the 3% predicted earlier this year (paywall).

Teva got into an expansive mood. The Israel-based global leader in generic drugs offered to buy US rival Mylan for $40.1 billion, to form a combined company with $27 billion in annual revenue. Mylan doesn’t want the deal, but may have more trouble fending it off after Ireland’s Perrigo rejected Mylan’s own takeover bid.

They got the guy who crashed the Dow. Navinder Singh Sarao was arrested in the UK on charges of wire fraud related to the 2010 “Flash Crash,” when the Dow Jones fell 600 points in five minutes. His tricks to manipulate the market allegedly netted him $40 million. The US hopes to extradite him.

Europe said Thai seafood is fishy. The EU gave Thailand six months to put reforms in place (paywall) to eliminate questionable fishing tactics—including dynamite fishing—or else face an import ban. Thailand is the world’s third-largest fish exporter, according to the UN, and 15% of those exports went to the EU last year.

ISIL’s leader may have been seriously wounded. An air strike in western Iraq nearly killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month, according to The Guardian’s sources (though the paper also notes there have been false reports of his death before). His injuries were reportedly severe and he’s still not involved in “day-to-day control” of the terrorist group.

Quartz obsession interlude

Grace Dobush revels in a nation’s fear of snooping. “Germans by and large are wary of surveillance in all its forms, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Big Brother Awards, which awards ‘prizes’ to organizations and individuals around the world making especially egregious use of Germans’ private personal data.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Ignore the headlines about animal extinctions. Conservationists are actually doing a remarkable job preserving species.

Elon Musk should give Larry Page a call… And ask him to buy Tesla after all, because Google’s future may hinge on its autonomous vehicle research.

…or get into a different market. Tesla’s high-end sports cars miss out on the hundreds of thousands of low-speed electric vehicles currently being sold in China.

Greece needs to hold a referendum. The people should get a say in what everyone’s been wondering for years: Should they stay in the euro zone or not?

Venezuela should get some advice from Peru. It could learn how to improve tax collection and build an economy that doesn’t depend on oil (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

You’re going to need to hire a therapist… Because the age of robotic bartenders is coming, so who are you going to talk to about your problems?

…or at least start meditating. ”Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (being aware of your negative emotions and choosing to ignore them) is as effective as anti-depressants.

Booze used to taste like candy. Champagne recovered from a 170-year-old shipwreck was found to have three times as much sugar as today’s bubbly.

Your next painkiller could be derived from venom. Spider venom contains chemicals that block the pain signals your nerves transmit to the brain.

Foot cream may help multiple-sclerosis sufferers. Lab tests show off the shelf anti-fungals promote cell growth of the myelin sheath that MS damages.

Only in Russia. A startup that lets you broadcast a message written on a woman’s cleavage is seeing its business boom.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, meditation CDs, and old bottles of Riesling to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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