Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Banks’ forex fines, ISIL’s ancient conquest, seal ban blunders, London’s duck lanes

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What to watch for today

The Eastern Partnership Summit convenes in Riga. European Union leaders will meet in the Latvian capital with their counterparts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine, where they will discuss energy and regional security. Moscow’s presence will loom heavily over the initiative, designed to bring the region into Europe’s orbit.

Greece’s prime minister tries to pressure the EU. Alexis Tsipras is expected to hold talks with his European counterparts on the sidelines of the Riga summit, pressing them to resolve the deadlock in talks on his country’s debt. Greece has said it will not be able to make a loan payment that is coming due on June 6.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule returns to Earth. The spacecraft delivered two tons (1.8 tonnes) of supplies to the International Space Station and will be bringing back some research samples when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.

Hewlett-Packard announces its earnings. The computer hardware and software company’s profit is expected to slip, as it struggles to find its way in an industry that is shifting to mobile and the cloud. CEO Meg Whitman plans to split Hewlett-Packard into two companies—one that sells larger technologies such as servers, and the other for printers and personal computers.

Who else will open their books? Best Buy, Gap, Aeropostale, Dollar Tree, Lenovo, and National Grid.

While you were sleeping

Five global banks are fined $5.6 billion for manipulating the forex market. After a US investigation, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Citigroup will plead guilty to criminal charges and pay hefty fines for colluding to manipulate foreign currency rates. UBS received immunity in the antitrust case, but will pay US regulators $545 million to settle other charges, while Bank of America will pay a fine but will not plead guilty.

CVS neared an Omnicare takeover. The drugstore chain is close to buying out the top provider of pharmaceutical services for the elderly for more than $12 billion, according to Reuters. Another big prescription drug company, Express Scripts, also showed interest in the company last month.

California declared a state of emergency for its oil spill. The Santa Barbara coastline was swamped with TK gallons of crude after Tuesday’s rupture of a pipeline owned by Houston-based Plains All American. Cleanup crews are on the scene.

China’s manufacturing is sluggish, but business confidence perked up. The HSBC/Markit preliminary purchasing managers’ index for May was 49.1, below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. The MNI China Business Indicator rose to 49.7 in May (paywall), from 48.8 in April, in a sign that stimulus measures are beginning to take effect.

Japan’s manufacturing rebounded. The Markit/JMMA preliminary purchasing managers’ index was 50.9 in May, indicating an expansion in activity for the first time in two months. New domestic and export orders both rose above the 50 threshold as well, which is good news after low business investment held back Japan’s first-quarter GDP.

ISIL took over the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. The militant group claimed near-complete control of the strategic city after government troops withdrew. There are concerns over the city’s ruins, which have been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

A major player in bank regulation is stepping down. Benjamin Lawsky will leave New York’s Department of Financial Services in June after four years as its superintendent. Lawsky redefined the reach of a state regulator, aggressively going after big global banks like Barclays.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jake Flanigan on the detrimental effects of Europe’s ban on seal hunting. “Exports of seal pelts have dropped 90% in the years since the ban was implemented. The impact on Greenland’s coastal economy has been disastrous. Though the ban included an exemption for indigenous peoples in order to protect distinctive cultures and traditions, “the market seems to be negatively affected by the EU initiative,” a 2012 report compiled by the European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) states.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The singularity is not that near. Computers are getting smarter, but that’s very different from being conscious.

More than 62 laborers will die for each game played during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Where will FIFA draw the line?

Russia’s outlaw bikers are tools of the state. The Night Wolves are emblems of Vladimir Putin’s macho brand of politics.

The American cable industry is about to get a taste of some progressive French business models. And that’s a good thing.

Stop gorging on chicken. The birds are raised with intolerable cruelty, in horrific conditions.

Surprising discoveries

Google launched a satellite just for DJ Skrillex. It was named after the dubstep star’s dog.

A US man shot a rare black rhino in Namibia. He paid $350,000 for the pleasure, which he says will help the species survive.

There’s life in the driest place on Earth. The discovery has implications that are truly out of this world.

A man cross-stitched his own bank card. He was frustrated waiting for a replacement from the bank.

London’s canal paths have special duck lanes. It’s a lesson in courtesy for humans and animals alike.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, animal crossings, and dubstep satellites to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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