Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—EU tackles migrants, Softbank’s profit, South Africa’s opposition, boring Eighties music

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What to watch for today

A fraught meeting for Greece. Euro-zone finance ministers hope to make progress but don’t expect to reach a deal to release further loans to Greece at a Eurogroup meeting. The country has said it will pay €750 million ($840 million) due to the IMF on Tuesday.

Europe proposes solutions on migrants. The EU will suggest countries take in refugees according to a quota system based on the size of the country and other factors. The EU’s foreign-policy chief will lay out a plan at the UN security council to use EU ships to attack vessels in Libyan waters before they can smuggle migrants across the Mediterranean. Libya’s government has rejected the plan.

The Bank of England goes steady. It’s expected to keep its benchmark rate at 0.5%. Last week’s Conservative election win means more spending cuts are likely, vindicating the bank’s loose monetary policy.

Republicans give Obama a helping hand. The Senate will consider a bill giving the president fast-track approval for trade agreements, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The treaty is a key Obama policy goal, with long-term consequences for the US economy, that is supported by most Republicans but opposed by many Democrats.

More analysis of the US labor market. The Federal Reserve’s labor market conditions index is likely to suggest a strong second quarter. The Conference Board’s employment trends index will give a full assessment of last month’s numbers.

Over the weekend

Softbank’s profit fell. The Japanese telecom reported an operating profit of 982.7 billion yen ($8.2 billion) for the fiscal year ending in March, a 9% drop from a year earlier. That was in line with expectations after the cost of turning around US carrier Sprint continued to weigh on the company; it issued no forecast for this year.

Thousands of migrants were rescued off Indonesia. Several boats carrying Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and other refugees were towed to safety by Indonesian fishing boats after smugglers abandoned them at sea without food or water. Many are feared dead from dehydration or starvation.

US companies’ overseas cash pile hit new records. They now hold $1.73 trillion in cash abroad (paywall), inlcluding $439 billion from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and Pfizer alone. The White House’s plan to encourage them to repatriate income faces several hurdles.

Uber neared a $50 billion valuation. The ride-hailing service is raising between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). That would make Uber—criticized for shortchanging its drivers—the most valuable venture-backed start up in history as it expands into logistics and robotic cars.

China’s central bank goosed the economy again. The People’s Bank of China cut its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 5.1%, the third cut in six months (paywall). Rate cuts go only so far, though: China’s big problem is convincing its mostly state-run banks to lend to small and medium-sized businesses.

Liberia was declared Ebola-free. With no new cases in 42 days, the World Health Organization gave the country a clean bill of health. The virus killed 4,716 people in Liberia, more than in either Guinea or Sierra Leone, where the epidemic continues to claim lives.

South Africa’s opposition got its first black leader. The Democratic Alliance elected 34-year-old Mmusi Maimane, replacing Helen Zille. As the official opposition in post-apartheid South Africa, the DA has suffered from perceptions that it’s mainly a white voters’ party, even though that’s no longer true.

Quartz obsession interlude

Mike Murphy on how Amazon might make drone delivery real. “Up to now, Amazon’s drone plans have suggested they would arrive at your doorstep, dropping off packages like a smaller, louder mailman. But Amazon’s [patent] application suggests the company is exploring ways to have its drones come directly to wherever your smartphone is.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Almost everything we think we know about Osama bin Laden’s death is a lie. He was under house arrest and probably in bed when he was shot, Seymour Hersh reports.

Polls are failing. It’s becoming harder than ever to gauge public opinion, as demonstrated by the UK election.

Sustainable fish is unrealistic.  Most people prefer eating sustainably-caught seafood, but there just isn’t enough to go around.

We know far less than we think about healthy eating. Nutrition research is mostly flawed or inconclusive.

The US oil boom isn’t about to end. OPEC’s forecast is wishful thinking.

The “science of happiness” won’t make us happier. We still have to solve the elemental mystery of what happiness is.

Surprising discoveries

You can take a tour of the closest 100,000 stars in your browser. Start exploring here.

Chinese stocks fall at 1:20pm every day. Analysts have competing theories to explain why prices drop after lunch.

The Mars Curiosity rover stopped to watch the sunset. It deserved a break after nearly 1,000 days on the planet.

Be careful with your protest graffiti. A Welsh voter drew a penis on a ballot, and it was counted as a vote for a Conservative politician.

There is a plant that points to diamonds. The Pandanus candelabrum of Liberia prefers soil that contains diamond-bearing kimberlite.

Eighties pop music was provably boring. Over the past five decades, the late 1980s had the least stylistic diversity.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, obscene ballot papers, and interesting songs from the “me” decade to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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