Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Vertex’s drug test, Greece’s progress, Polish elections, palindrome week

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

John Kerry meets with Vladimir Putin in Sochi. The US secretary of state is traveling to the Black Sea resort in an effort to keep up direct communication with Russian leadership despite tense relations between the countries. Kerry and the Russian president will discuss the war in Syria (paywall), relations with Iran, and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Vertex gets tested. The biotech darling learns whether its cystic-fibrosis drug will be recommended for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. Expectations for the experimental drug are high, contributing to the doubling in Vertex’s stock price over the past year.

Australia tests the fiscal waters. The country’s conservative government hopes to strike a balance (paywall) between an electoral promise to cut the deficit and a desire to avoid disappointing voters with overly stringent austerity measures. No doubt the country’s credit-rating analysts will be watching.

Earnings. Companies scheduled to announce their results include GoDaddy, Zillow, and Encana.

Barack Obama’s presidential library site. The University of Chicago has reportedly won a bid to host the facility, beating out Columbia University in New York and the University of Hawaii. The winning site is expected to be announced today.

While you were sleeping

Greece beat a loan payment deadline. Easing fears of a default, the country made the €750 million ($840 million) IMF loan payment a day before it was due. At a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels, there appeared to be some progress in negotiations over the country’s finances, with a joint statement noting that “more substantial discussion” of reforms is now underway.

The euro’s founding father, Alexandre Lamfalussy, died at 86. The Hungarian-born banker was the first president of the European Monetary Institute, forerunner to today’s European Central Bank. He also set up the system that still governs financial integration and supervision in the EU—a method now formally known as the Lamfalussy process.

The European Union asked the United Nations for help with its migrant crisis. The call for help comes as European diplomats are preparing a UN resolution for military action in Libyan waters, to help stem the flood of migrants being smuggled across the Mediterranean. Libya has objected to the plan. Almost 63,500 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean this year, and an estimated 1,800 of them have died trying.

The Saudi king said he would skip a summit with Barack Obama. King Salman will be sending his crown prince to a US summit of Gulf states. Other regional leaders also will be absent, signaling dissatisfaction with US policy toward Iran (paywall). The US, which had planned a one-on-one meeting between the president and the king, says it doesn’t see it as a snub.

Poland got a surprising presidential election result. The incumbent, Bronisław Komorowski, was expected to win the first round of voting, but a partial count shows right-wing candidate Andrzej Duda with 35% of the votes to Komorowski’s 33% (link in Polish). Because neither contender received 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held on May 24.

Quartz obsession interlude

Solana Pyne produced a video that shows some amazing footage of a deep-sea expedition. “The scientists, who are supported by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and used NOAA’s Okeanos ship for the expedition, found several creatures so new to us, they don’t even have names. In a total of twelve dives, they saw 100 species of fish, 50 species of deepwater corals and hundreds of other invertebrates, many of which had never been seen in their natural habitat.” See more here.

Matters of debate

Apple should bail out Greece. It’s a win-win situation, with tax breaks for one and some financial liquidity for the other.

Miley Cyrus probably won’t save LGBT homeless youth. Celebrity endorsements don’t do much to help charitable causes.

Unfriending your racist friend on Facebook won’t solve the problem. Keep the “friend”–it’s a reality check.

The dark side of the TPP. The trade agreement will drive up the prices of some crucial AIDS drugs.

Jailhouse snitches lead to wrongful convictions. Let’s get rid of them.

Surprising discoveries

Vienna now has gay-themed traffic lights. They show Austria as open-minded while catching the eyes of drivers and pedestrians.

It’s palindrome week in the US. Every date will read the same backward and forward.

Where the sun doesn’t shine. A beautiful map shows the cloudiest parts of the Earth.

Self-driving cars are getting into scrapes. Eleven minor accidents so far, for Google’s fleet.

Here, kitty, kitty. A cat in Australia was found 3,500 km from its home.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, early loan payments, and palindromes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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