Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Deutsche Bank’s penance, Xiaomi’s India phone, annoyingly picky eaters, bees getting high

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What to watch for today

The Afghan Taliban launches its “spring offensive.” The militant group announced it will commence its annual seasonal attacks, pledging a particularly bloody fighting period as NATO troops pull back from the region.

Europe’s finance ministers meet in Riga. The topic of interest in the Latvian capital will be whether Greece and its lenders can reach a debt deal, as the country tries to cobble together the €770 million ($825 million) due next month to the IMF.

Anger over the 100th anniversary of the Armenian massacre. Although many governments and scholars regard the massacres of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide, the differing opinions of Turkey, the Vatican, Germany, and the US, among others, continue to cause controversy.

The accused go to court over the Mediterranean boat crisis. The Tunisian captain of a boat that capsized off the coast of Libya and killed hundreds of migrants will emerge from detention in Italy, along with a Syrian crew member, to stand before a judge on human trafficking charges.

The Apple Watch hits the market. If you weren’t among the first to pre-order Apple’s smartwatch earlier this month, you’ll still be able to walk into a handful of boutiques globally to buy one—albeit from a limited supply.

While you were sleeping

The US and UK slapped Deutsche Bank with a $2.5 billion fine. The German bank has been accused of deliberately rigging lending rates on trillions of dollars (paywall) in mortgages, student loans, credit cards, and other debt between 2005 and 2009. In 2013, the bank paid a €725 million ($780 million) fine to the EU for a similar rate-rigging accusation.

Xiaomi unveiled a $200 phone in India. The Chinese smartphone maker rolled out the Mi 4i, its first device designed outside its home market. The 5.0 inch phone with a 13 megapixel camera, which focuses heavily on photo-taking, is part of the company’s tailored push into local markets. It ships April 30 for 12,999 INR (around $205) in India.

The US acknowledged a drone strike killed an Italian and an American. The White House said the US government was responsible for accidentally killing (paywall) two hostages, an American and an Italian, held by Al Qaeda in a counterterrorism operation in January. US president Barack Obama said he takes full responsibility.

Comcast is backing out of its Time Warner Cable acquisition. Regulators had signaled their intention to block the combination of America’s largest and second-largest cable companies. Bloomberg is reporting that Comcast now plans to walk away rather than put up a fight.

Loretta Lynch became the US attorney general. She’s the first black woman to hold the post, following a five-month delay by the US senate to confirm her after president Obama’s nomination. She’ll replace Eric Holder, who has served since 2009 and resigned last September.

Quartz obsession interlude

Nicola Twilley and Cynthia Graber on food flavors made possible by designer yeast. “Throughout human history, if you wanted to make a dish taste like strawberry, you had no choice but to add a strawberry. But in the 19th century, scientists began to understand how to synthesize flavor chemicals, whether from plants or from byproducts of coal processing, to evoke familiar flavors. While the technology to evaluate the flavor molecules of a particular food have become increasingly sophisticated in the past century, the basic concept of synthetic flavor has remained unchanged. Until now.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Europe shouldn’t seal her borders. The continent’s response to the shipwreck in the Mediterranean should stay true to its history as a beacon of human rights and rule of law for immigrants.

The pressure is on Narendra Modi to modernize India fast. The prime minister must respond to the apparent suicide of a distraught farmer in New Delhi by transitioning farmers to other work through training and job placement.

China’s war against civil society is futile. It’s impossible to suppress the ideas that undergird freedom and democracy, especially now that ideas spread so rapidly.

Don’t press the “Login with Facebook” button. The action may streamline your logins for various apps, but Facebook, Google, and Twitter don’t deserve that much access to our data.

Stop being such a picky eater. When you’re invited to someone’s house or on a night out, you’ll be happier loosening up your personal dietary rules to enjoy the moment (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

People mourn in different ways. China’s ministry of culture wants people to stop hiring strippers to perform at funerals.

Bees are hooked on pesticides. According to researchers, the nicotine-like chemicals may give bees a slight “buzz.”

Your innards looks amazing while singing. More than 100 muscles in your face and neck create complex movements that you can watch on video thanks to a new MRI technique.

Exercise isn’t the remedy for obesity. Cutting out excess sugars and carbohydrates has far more impact on tackling obesity than does physical activity, doctors say.

Soldiers with handheld energy zappers are the future. The US army is testing ray guns to use against other electronics in battle.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, alarming stripper sightings, and singing MRIs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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