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Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Poland’s next president, Ethiopia voted, Irish gay marriage, bacon emoji

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

What to watch for today

Much of the world takes a break. In the US, it’s Memorial Day weekend. In the UK, it’s a bank holiday. And in Hong Kong and much of Asia, it’s a public holiday for the Buddha’s birthday.

Who will get to to look for oil off the Gulf of Mexico? A list of approved firms, to be published by the Mexican oil regulator, marks the first time the nation has allowed private companies to bid since 1938. Some 34 companies applied, and the winning bids will be announced in July.

Investors react after Greece says it won’t make an IMF loan payment. The money, due June 5, “is not there to be given,” the interior minister said in an interview on Greek television, amid continued negotiations for international bailout funds.

Poland’s next president is announced. Voters on Sunday were asked to choose between the incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, and challenger Andrzej Duda, who erased a huge deficit in the polls in an election that hinged on dissatisfaction over jobs.

Global economic data. Look for Japanese trade balance levels and Taiwanese industrial production figures. Also, two Federal Reserve committee members are speaking, in Reykjavik and in Herzliya, Israel.

Over the weekend

General Motors was reported to be close to facing criminal charges over faulty ignition switches. According to the Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors are likely to seek more than $1 billion in penalties for alleged misstatements the automaker made about the switches, which have been linked to more than 100 deaths.

Spain’s governing party got tested. Local and regional elections on Sunday were expected to signal widespread frustration with prime minster Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party, which has been unable to keep high unemployment and corruption scandals at bay.

Ireland voted yes on gay marriage. The overwhelmingly Catholic country overwhelmingly voted to support marriage “without distinction as to their sex.” It’s the first time a nation has approved gay marriage by a popular vote.

Ethiopia voted in first elections since 2010. It’s the country’s first parliamentary vote since Meles Zenawi died in 2012, and his Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front is expected to retain power. For some reason, the results are not expected for a month.

John and Alisha Nash were killed in a car accident. The Princeton University mathematician and his wife were in a taxi that lost control on a New Jersey highway. The couple, portrayed in the 2001 movie A Beautiful Mind, was reportedly en route home from the airport after a trip to Norway, where John Nash last week received the 2015 Abel Prize for mathematics.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anne Quito on the joys of learning cursive handwriting. “For what must have been hundreds and hundreds of hours, we toiled and persevered—training our young hands to commit those letterforms to muscle memory. Rhythm, form, slant, space. Rhythm, form, slant, space, I would sometimes silently chant to coax my wild clumsy hand. These were the things I obsessed with at 7 years old.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Replacing welfare with a “basic income” is alluring. But it’s unaffordable.

Portland is an alternative commuter’s paradise. It has the highest proportion of people who work from home or bike to work.

You should care who will run Africa’s development bank. It has granted $101 billion in loans since 1964.

Too many TV shows use rape as a plot device. It’s not just Games of Thrones.

Rap music is full of bad financial advice. This video is the exception.

Surprising discoveries

Garbage collectors are more likely to die on the job than police officers. Taxi drivers and bartenders, too.

There’s a new micro-nation coming. It’s to be called the Kingdom of Enclava, based on the Croat-Serb border.

Chinese trees are treated with tremendous respect. So much so that roads are built around them.

Cheating comes from your genes. Especially so in women, even though they have no evolutionary urge to breed with lots of partners.

Crimea is getting its own soccer league. It will begin in August and be neither Russian nor Ukrainian.

Your dark chocolate probably contains milk. The FDA also found milk in 15% of products claiming to be “dairy-free.”

Bacon, selfies, face palm are coming to emoji. As well as something called “Mother Christmas.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, this newsletter in cursive, and actual dark chocolate to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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