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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Another Nepal earthquake, Kerry meets Putin, record Picasso sale, jetpacks over Dubai

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

What to watch for today

Nepal deals with another major earthquake. A magnitude 7.3 quake hit at around midday local time near to Mount Everest, causing tremors as far away as New Delhi and large aftershocks. A magnitude 7.8 quake that hit a little over two weeks ago killed thousands and affected 8 million.

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 with Russia 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

Thousands of refugees are stranded off the coast of Thailand. An estimated 8,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group are on boats on the Andaman Sea with nowhere to go. They are fleeing persecution in their home country of Myanmar, but are unable to land because of a Thai crackdown on human trafficking—an unintended consequence of the discovery of mass graves where smugglers killed previous Rohingya migrants.

A Picasso sold for a new 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.

Carlsberg reported slightly better-than-expected earnings. The Danish brewery’s first-quarter operating profit was 661 million krone ($99 million), up from 453 million krone a year earlier. The boost came from growth in beer sales in Western Europe and Asia.

Another Bangladeshi blogger was hacked to death. Ananta Bijoy Das was attacked by a group of men with machetes in the northeast of the country, after writing in support of free expression and against religious fundamentalism. Das is the third writer to suffer such a fate since the start of 2015.

Sweden’s inflation rate went negative again. Consumer prices fell 0.2% in April from a year earlier, compared with expectations that they would remain flat. That will confuse things for the central bank, which last month declined to push its benchmark interest rate deeper into negative territory (paywall), citing rising inflation.

Tesla is adapting 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.

…as Uber made changes for India. The ride-hailing service will trial cash payments in Hyderabad, the first time the company has allowed riders to pay by cash. This part of the world has low credit-card adoption rates and, typically, Uber users must pay for rides with a bank card.

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

Nobody else needs to climb Mount Everest. Instead, we should turn it into a memorial that is out of bounds to all humans.

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

Google took its Map Maker service offline. Too many people used the editing function to draw obscenities into maps.

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 city is warming 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, spare Picassos, and gay-themed street signs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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