Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Britain votes, a big pharma deal, Bibi gets lucky, prison breakouts

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What to watch for today

Alibaba disappoints. The Chinese e-commerce company reports earnings. Analysts say it will fall short of estimates, after a recent slowdown in growth which cost investors $70 billion. Since peaking in November, its shares have slid to below their September IPO levels.

Britain votes. Against the background of a slowing economy, the Conservative Party is likely to win, with Labour coming in second. But the Tories may not hold on to power: With no party expected to win an outright majority, it all depends who forms a coalition. The anti-immigrant UKIP is likely to get thumped.

The US Senate votes too. This vote is on whether Congress will get to review any nuclear deal the president makes. Republican leaders expect it to pass resoundingly after signs last week that it might get torpedoed (inadvertently, by even more zealous Republicans).

More earnings. Including CBS, Priceline, Time Inc., Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Molson Coors Brewing, MillerCoors, and Elizabeth Arden.

While you were sleeping

Another big bet in Big Pharma. Alexion Pharmaceuticals said it will buy Synageva BioPharma for $8.4 billion. As with other recent big acquisitions, both companies specialize in rare disease treatments: Alexion is one of the most valuable biotech companies thanks to a single drug (paywall), while Synageva has no products yet on the market.

Another European anti-trust probe. As it unveiled plans to unify European e-commerce into a “digital single market,” the EU also announced an investigation (paywall) into whether internet giants such as Amazon are stifling competition in online shopping. It took five years of investigation before the EU filed antitrust charges against Google last month.

Greece paid up and got snarky. The country sent the IMF a €200 million ($225 million) debt repayment, but the Greek government blamed divisions between the country’s creditors for an impasse in debt talks. The ECB, IMF and European Commission shot back. A €750 million tranche is due next week.

California finalized mandatory water cutbacks. Weeks after the governor ordered statewide rationing, regulators approved rules that would have some urban areas cut their water use by as much as 36%; farms don’t have to. The regulations limit the watering of public property and urge homeowners to let their lawns die.

Binyamin Netanyahu scraped together a government. Six weeks after the election and an hour before the deadline, Israel’s prime minister managed to forge a coalition with last-minute support from the Jewish Home party. With just 61 of the 120 Knesset seats, and heavily right-leaning, the government will be unstable and prone to clashes with the US and Europe.

Quartz obsession interlude

Shelly Banjo on a company that believes millennials will break America’s addiction to credit cards. “Affirm is a new type of online lender that lets shoppers buy things like televisions and mattresses from online retailers at the point of sale and pay for them over time through a set payment plan. Unlike with layaway programs, shoppers receive their goods right away.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t get so excited about NASA’s warp drive. Interstellar travel is still too good to be true.

Hey Britain, Europe does not care about your election. So get over your euro-skepticism and join the party.

The “Africa rising” narrative isn’t very convincing. A lot of investors are lukewarm on the idea.

Social democracy as an idea is dead. We need a substitute for the social and political promises the world made after World War II.

We have the right to transparency and information. The US government should fix its record, writes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Academic peer review may do more harm than good. The process is so slow and flawed that it can undermine good science.

Surprising discoveries

It’s not only dictators who rule for ever. Some of America’s longest-tenured CEOs have been in their jobs for several decades. (paywall).

A fate sealed, 56 years later. An inmate who escaped from the prison which served as a set for “Shawshank Redemption” was caught after more than half a century.

A particularly cruel method of smuggling. Two dozen endangered cockatoos were found stuffed in plastic bottles in Indonesia.

There is sexism in virtual reality. Researchers have found that players of World of Warcraft are more likely to help out other players with good-looking female avatars.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, jailbreak stories, and avatar improvements to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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