Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama trade vote, Modi in China, Burundi coup violence, foot-assisted selfies

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What to watch for today

The US Senate votes on Obama’s trade bill after all. Lawmakers will consider giving the president “fast-track” authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership and another key trade pact. Some political maneuvering allowed the vote to go ahead after Senate Democrats blocked it on Tuesday.

Narendra Modi meets Xi Jinping. The Indian prime minister will meet China’s president in his home province in western China before traveling to Beijing later tonight. The two leaders will discuss economic co-operation and several long-running border disputes.

Guyana’s ruling party seeks an election recount. The People’s Progressive Party voiced concerns over the high number of ballots that were rejected after Monday’s election. The opposition coalition claims it has a substantial lead based on results posted at polling stations.

Gulf rulers seek reassurance. Six countries are asking for security guarantees at a summit in Washington as the United States pursues a nuclear deal with Iran. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are also seeking to buy up to $100 billion in US arms.

Mario Draghi speaks to the International Monetary Fund. The European Central Bank president will deliver a speech on coordination with central banks in Washington. He will probably receive a warmer welcome than he did in Frankfurt last month, where a woman protesting the “ECB dick-tatorship” showered him with confetti.

While you were sleeping

Rival Burundi soldiers are fighting in the streets. Forces loyal to military coup leader Godefroid Niyombare clashed with soldiers supporting longtime president Pierre Nkurunziza, with gunfire and explosions taking place overnight. Nkurunziza—who was attending a regional summit in Tanzania after weeks of violent protests—claims he is still in power.

Telefonica beat expectations. The Spanish telecom giant’s first-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier to €1.8 billion ($2.1 billion), surpassing expectations thanks in part to strong performance in Germany. The company plans to expand in high-growth markets this year; it sold the British wireless carrier O2 in March.

The Bank of England’s governor gave nothing away. Mark Carney said it was “possible” that the central bank would raise its benchmark rate within a year, but added that UK inflation is still at risk of turning negative in the immediate future. A strong pound was highlighted as one of the headwinds facing the economy.

A Philippine factory fire killed at least 72. Workers in a slipper and sandal factory in Manila died after sparks from a welder ignited volatile chemicals, according to officials who were combing through the wreckage on Thursday. Fire safety measures were lax or non-existent, and staff on the second floor were trapped by metal bars on the windows.

Sharp’s predicament worsened. The struggling electronics maker reported a worse-than-expected loss of 222.4 billion yen ($1.9 billion) for the year and said it faced “material uncertainty” over its ability to stay in business (paywall). Separately, the company announced it has secured 225 billion yen to pay off debt and to fund growth, in return for cutting 10% of its workforce and making other cost-saving measures.

Honda expanded its vehicle recall. The Japanese automaker added 4.9 million cars to a global recall initiated after several deaths were linked to faulty airbag components. Meanwhile, airbag manufacturer Takata said it won’t set aside any more money to pay for recalls connected to its airbags because there is no “officially recognized” link between its product and any defects.

Quartz obsession interlude

Bobby Ghosh on how ISIL is disrupting online jihad. “Rather than micro-manage attacks, ISIL seems content to encourage followers to essentially go it on their own, with some general guidelines on who and what to target. The instructions from the group’s self-styled ‘caliph,’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are no more specific than ‘erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere.’ This DIY jihad means ISIL has no responsibility for any attack until it chooses, retroactively, to take responsibility.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The iPhone is good for everyone. Even Apple’s competitors have benefitted from the smartphone’s unparalleled rise.

The “father of the euro” foresaw its problems. Decision makers should heed the late Alexandre Lamfalussy’s warnings.

Podcasts are commercializing public radio. That threatens a long-protected public trust.

Countries should sell citizenships to the rich. But the United States is offering passports far too cheaply.

Surprising discoveries

Australia is threatening to put down Johnny Depp’s dogs. The actor broke strict import laws by bringing them into the country.

Fox News blurred the breasts in a Picasso painting. An art critic derided the network as “sexually sick.”

South Korea is recalling a book of children’s poetry. Several of the poems were about kids violently killing their mothers.

The India-Bangladesh border looks like a dartboard. There is a piece of India within Bangladesh, within India, within Bangladesh.

Who needs selfie sticks when you’ve got dexterous feet? These self-portraits require agile toes and strong calf muscles.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pixelated masterpieces, and foot-selfies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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