Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Amazon’s cloud reveal, China’s genetic modification, North Korea’s nukes, the future of avocados

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What to watch for today

Amazon shows the size of its cloud. The company will finally break out the revenue and profitability of its Amazon Web Services unit, which offers web hosting and server space, when it releases its quarterly results.

Tsipras chats with Merkel. The Greek and German leaders will meet in Brussels (paywall) in an attempt to reach a deal on Greece’s debt. The country has a €770 million payment due to the IMF next month, and a €3.5 billion ($3.8 billion) payment due to the EU in July.

Deutsche Bank pays the pipers. British and US regulators are reportedly set to announce fines of at least $1.5 billion against the German bank for rigging the benchmark Libor interest rate. It settled with European officials in 2013 over the same issue.

Europe addresses a humanitarian disaster on its shores. An emergency summit on migrants will call for funding commitments to fight human trafficking, boost rescue services, and help refugees before they try to cross the Mediterranean.

A bumper crop of earnings. Here’s just a small sample of the firms reporting today: Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Brands, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Novartis, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Starbucks.

While you were sleeping

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is bigger than anyone thought. Chinese nuclear experts told their US counterparts that Pyongyang has 20 nuclear warheads and enough weapons-grade uranium to double that arsenal within a year. The estimate, made in a bilateral briefing, is well above current US estimates of between 10 and 16 nuclear bombs.

The euro zone eased up. Markit’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing and services fell to 53.5 in April, from an 11-month high of 54 in March. Weak growth in France and Germany offset stronger conditions elsewhere, and falling sales prices suggest a lack of business confidence despite the European Central Bank’s stimulus efforts.

China fined Mercedes-Benz $56 million. The German carmaker was fined 350 million yuan for alleged anti-competitive behavior, ending an investigation that followed a raid of its Shanghai offices last year. The fine—the highest paid by an automotive company in China to date—punishes Mercedes for allegedly fixing the price of its cars and parts.

Petrobras put a $2.1 billion price tag on its massive corruption scandal. Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant reported its long-delayed quarterly and annual results, which have been stalled by a corruption investigation. The costs of the scandal, which included millions of dollars smuggled using plastic wrap and Spanx, contributed to a 26.6 billion-real ($8.8 billion) loss in the fourth quarter.

Chinese scientists genetically modified a human embryo. The pioneering research, though conducted on a non-viable embryo, is still controversial. Many scientists contend that the methods need to be studied further in animals before risking unpredictable human mutations.

South Korea’s GDP growth impressed. Private consumption and construction contributed to first-quarter GDP growth of 2.4%, which beat expectations. That should please the central bank, which has cut its base rate three times since August.

China’s manufacturing hit a 12-month low. The HSBC/Markit preliminary purchasing managers’ index for April was 49.2, lower than an expected 49.6 and well below the 50.0 mark that separates expansion from contraction. The disappointing figure comes despite recent government efforts to keep economic growth from slowing below its target of 7%.

Quartz obsession interlude

Deena Shanker on the world’s favorite canned meat. “In times of economic trouble, Spam flies off the shelves. But now, as the economy improves, Hormel Foods’ canned pre-cooked pork is looking for a new, higher-brow market. The product has played a bit part in ‘haute’ cuisine since at least 2009, when Vinny Dotolo of the LA eatery Animal paired it with foie gras. In 2011, chef Hooni Kim put it in a stew at his New York restaurant Danji. ” Read more here.

Matters of debate

China doesn’t have ghost cities. Rather, it has new cities that have yet to come to life.

Facebook’s new phone app is a reminder to check your privacy settings. It displays your number to all your Facebook friends.

Avocados are in danger of disappearing… Growing the water-hungry plants in drought-stricken California is not sustainable.

…Actually, no, they’re not. Imports are booming, and California plans to harvest more avocados this year than last.

How to understand Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is neither a fanatic nor a lunatic, but a believer in a cause.

Surprising discoveries

Amazon has named a building after its first customer. John Wainwright bought a book 20 years ago.

Ancient Egyptians wrote down a hangover cure. A 1,900-year-old papyrus recommends wearing leaves around your neck.

There used to be cat-sized rats in the Caribbean. European settlers exterminated them.

This is the most accurate clock ever. It can sense a change in gravity when it is lifted by just 2cm (0.8 in).

A man was fined for shooting eight bullets into his malfunctioning computer. He said it felt “glorious.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ballistic computer repairs, and oversized rats to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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