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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Burundi coup defeated, Google car roll-out, B.B. King dies, illegal mockingbird sales

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

What to watch for today

The US pays Ukraine a visit. Just three days after secretary of state John Kerry engaged in long, “frank” talks with Vladimir Putin, Victoria Nuland, assistant US secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, goes to Kyiv to meet with senior government officials. Meanwhile, world powers are pushing to implement a peace deal in eastern Ukraine.

The Petrobras report card. The struggling Brazilian state-run oil giant is expected to report a more than 50% drop in first-quarter profit, thanks largely to a sharp decline in oil prices and a weak Brazilian real, following gains from an end to fuel subsidies.

McDonald’s turns 75. What started with a drive-in burger joint in California has become an empire with 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. McDonald’s is now the biggest buyer of beef, pork, potatoes, lettuce, and tomatoes in the world, but its sales have been shrinking as customers opt for healthier choices.

While you were sleeping

Google’s self-driving cars are getting a real-world trial. The company’s prototypes will hit the streets of Northern California this summer, with a 25 mph (40 kmh) speed limit. Google’s modified self-driving Lexus cars have already logged about a million hours on the road, incurring 11 minor accidents along the way.

Burundi’s coup was foiled. Rogue general Godefroid Niyombare is on the run and three other military officials that led the overthrow attempt have been arrested, according to the BBC. President Pierre Nkurunziza is due to make a national radio address soon, highlighting the strategic importance of controlling the state broadcaster.

China and India tried to make nice. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Chinese premier Li Keqiang agreed on measures to resolve a long running border dispute and signed a number of investment deals ranging from railways to clean energy technology. But Modi also urged China to “reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back,” including a huge trade imbalance in China’s favor (paywall).

Netflix is in talks about a China tie-up. The video-streaming subscription service has begun discussions with Wasu, a Chinese media company backed by Alibaba’s Jack Ma, according to Bloomberg. A partnership would help the company access China’s $5.9 billion online video market, and to navigate its notoriously prickly censorship system.

The legendary bluesman B.B. King died. King, 89, was known for hits like “The Thrill Is Gone” and his virtuosic solos on his guitar, named Lucille. The Mississippi native brought helped bring the blues into the mainstream and inspired a generation of guitarists, including Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Barclays is facing more fines for rigging interest rates. The UK bank will probably face a penalty of around $60 million for failing to curb the bad behavior that it promised to stop after it settled a Libor manipulation case with US authorities in 2012. The Justice Department is also considering revisiting a similar settlement with UBS (paywall).

South Korea decided not to lower interest rates further. The central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 1.75% after lowering it three times since August. Some analysts expected another drop, but a rise in household debt likely contributed to the decision to hold off.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on China’s unprecedented reduction in coal use. “Already, the People’s Republic’s sputtering coal consumption, which began last year, seems to have put a big dent in global CO2 emissions. Those generated from energy use stopped growing in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency. The only other times this happened was in the early 1980s, 1992, and 2009—when the global economy has floundered, in other words.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Take a “Big Lebowski” approach to social media. Stop wasting time responding to trolls and move on with your life, dude.

Who cares if Gwyneth Paltrow is wrong about everything? Humans like to spend money on frivolous things, and that’s ok.

The “iron curtain” metaphor is back. And we need to kill it as soon as possible.

Yes, you can have too much vacation time. Especially if you live in France and kids are involved.

Let your children play video games. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg credits them with his success.

Surprising discoveries

Some US congressmen refuse to be alone with female staffers. That may be illegal under US labor laws.

Restaurants are Instagram-optimizing their food. Chili’s tweaked dishes to make them look better on social media.

There are internships that pay $11,000 a month. Only MBAs need apply.

In Japan, you can swim in a pool full of wine, coffee, or ramen soup. Whatever floats your boat.

If mama did buy you a mockingbird, she could go to jail. The birds are a protected wildlife species in the United States.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, illicit mockingbirds, and Chili’s food selfies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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