Skip to navigationSkip to content

Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Kerry meets Putin, record Christie’s sale, Shell’s Arctic drilling, jetpacks over Dubai

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

John Kerry meets with Vladimir Putin. The US secretary of state is traveling to the Russian resort town of Sochi in an effort to maintain direct communication 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 potential blockbuster are high, contributing to the doubling in Vertex’s stock price over the past year.

Barack Obama picks a 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.

While you were sleeping

More banks were found guilty of peddling dodgy mortgage securities. A US court found that Nomura Holdings and Royal Bank of Scotland misled US lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in the lead-up to the financial crisis, in a closely watched case in which many other banks chose to settle out of court and pay $18 billion in fines. Separately, a US arbitration panel ordered Goldman Sachs to pay $80 million plus interest to National Australian Bank.

A Picasso sold for a record-high price. Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘‘O’’) sold for $179.4 million at a Christie’s auction in New York, beating the previous record for the most expensive artwork sold at auction by over $30 million. The identity of the buyer was not disclosed.

Shell’s Arctic oil drilling plan moved forward. US regulators gave the oil company conditional approval to drill in the Arctic waters north of Alaska this summer, as long as it can show that the project will not hurt whales, seals, and polar bears. Environmental groups condemned the move.

American Apparel’s loss widened. The US fashion company reported a first-quarter loss of $26.4 million, worse than the $5.5 million loss it made a year earlier. American Apparel is currently fighting a legal battle with its ex-CEO; it announced it will raise $10 million through a share sale, for working capital.

Tesla will adapt its cars for China. The electric car maker will modify its cars to allow drivers to use any standard charging outlet in China, once the government releases its specifications. That could go some way to reducing range anxiety in the largest car market in the world, which has been notoriously tough for Tesla to crack.

Quartz obsession interlude

Solana Pyne’s video shows 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

American airlines need to stop whining. They have complained for decades when faced with increased competition.

Apple should bail out Greece. A win-win situation would offer tax breaks for one and some financial liquidity for the other.

Unfriending your racist Facebook connections won’t solve anything. Keep the “friend” as a reality check.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will hurt AIDS patients. Some crucial treatments will be more expensive under the trade pact.

Jailhouse snitches lead to wrongful convictions. Let’s get rid of them—especially in death penalty cases.

Surprising discoveries

Video games can treat ADHD. They teach users to focus and may soon be prescribed by doctors instead of drugs like Adderall.

Two men flew over Dubai in jetpacks. They recorded their Iron Man-style antics in ultra-high definition video.

Vienna has gay-themed traffic signals. The’re helping the city warm up for the Eurovision Song Contest.

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

Self-driving cars are getting into scrapes. There have been 11 minor accidents so far in Google’s fleet.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, medically valid video games, and calendar palindromes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.