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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Yahoo’s spin-off imperiled, California oil spill, Altice eyes Time Warner, Hezbollah loves lemonade

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

What to watch for today

The Fed talks the talk. The US central bank releases the minutes from its April meeting, which could reveal more about the Federal Reserve’s stance on a potential rate hike, which is expected either in either June or September.

The US military plane launches into space. In a classified, unmanned mission, the Air Force’s winged X-37B space plane belonging to the US Air Force will bring along an extra payload in its fourth test flight: a small civilian satellite to test whether photons from the sun can be used to propel a spacecraft.

Spotify may announce web video plans. The Wall Street Journal reports that the streaming service is hatching plans to add video to its business to compete with the likes of Facebook and YouTube.

Salesforce reports earnings amid takeover talks. The cloud computing company is expected to report strong growth in the quarter for both earnings and revenue. But most investors will want to know whether the company is really fielding buyout offers.

Earnings, earnings, earnings: Target, Lowe’s, Staples, Williams-Sonoma, Hormel Foods, and American Eagle Outfitters also report quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

The IRS threw a wrench in Yahoo’s Alibaba spin-off. The US tax agency is reportedly considering a rule change that would end Yahoo’s plan to spin off its Alibaba stake without paying a heavy tax bill. Yahoo is including its small business unit in the spin-off, but that may not longer be enough to qualify it as a standalone business; Yahoo’s shares fell 7.6% on the news.

An oil spill hit the California coast. A four-mile wide oil slick has appeared near Santa Barbara’s scenic Refugio Beach, after an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude leaked from a ruptured pipeline. The pipeline, operated by Plains All American Pipeline, was shut down, and Exxon Mobil said it has deployed a team to clear the spill.

Altice reportedly made a bid for Time Warner Cable. The French cable and broadband company made the offer after Time Warner Cable’s attempted merger with Comcast fell through, according to Bloomberg. Altice is also already in talks to buy Suddenlink, the US’s seventh-largest cable company, for $10 billion.

Japan’s economy grew faster than expected. GDP grew at an annualized 2.4% in the first quarter, beating expectations, due to stronger-than-expected consumer spending. But business investment was lower than expected, suggesting further stimulus measures may still be necessary.

The US charged six Chinese nationals with economic espionage. The group includes three professors from Tianjin University, who are accused of stealing trade secrets and proprietary information related to wireless technology that is often used in military systems.

Wal-Mart’s earnings disappointed. Quarterly profit for the world’s largest retailer fell and same-store sales rose by less than anticipated. Wal-Mart said American customers used extra cash from tax refunds and lower gas prices to pay down debt instead of going shopping.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anne Quito on an artist’s panoramic coffee cup illustrations of Japan, which portray the country better than any guidebook. “With a pencil, a pen, an ink brush or watercolor paints, he captures quiet scenes of urban life, portraits of strangers reading in café, playing with their smart phones, and even salary men snoozing in Tokyo’s subway.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Uber is just getting started in China. The low-priced “People’s Uber” service is still a major threat to domestic competitors.

Is nicotine actually bad for you? Many smokers are switching to gum or vaping, but may still be at risk.

Women should be able to wear flats on the red carpet. The Cannes Film Festival doesn’t seem to agree.

Amal Alamuddin Clooney is the ultimate feminist superhero. She has made her husband George into an adorable sidekick.

Surprising discoveries

Hezbollah has endorsed lemonade. The group’s secretary-general says it’s the best for delivering long speeches.

Obama made Twitter history. His account is the fastest to reach 1 million followers.

80% of sunscreens contain suspect ingredients or don’t work at all. Neutrogena gets a badge of shame.

Audi makes a bicycle that weighs less than five iPhones. But it’s as expensive as a car.

Spiders can spin their own parachutes. They used them to rain down on one Australian town.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, red carpet rights, and coffee cup art to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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