Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—China’s ocean strategy, Libor trial begins, Brazil’s falling GDP, almonds and bees

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What to watch for today

China’s military looks to the ocean. The People’s Liberation Army is shifting its focus to “open seas protection,” citing a growing number of neighboring countries with an “illegal presence” on China’s reefs and islands. The shift comes after Chinese media said this week war with the US is “inevitable” unless the US backs down on criticism of Chinese building in the South China Sea.

Phones may start cutting out in Nigeria. Amid a nationwide fuel crisis, the biggest mobile provider, MTN, says its phone network will be “significantly degraded” if it doesn’t get fresh supplies today. The shortage in Africa’s biggest economy is affecting everything from radio stations to airlines.

A TWC-Charter merger emerges. A deal could be announced today in which Charter, the US’s fourth-largest cable company, pays a reported $55 billion, or $195 a share, for Time Warner Cable, 14% above Friday’s closing price. Here’s why it’s happening.

Some reads on the US economy. Markit’s services PMI, the FHFA and Case-Shiller home price indices, new home sales, the Richmond and Dallas Fed manufacturing indices, durable goods orders, and consumer confidence will give economic soothsayers a raft of numbers to dig through.

While you were sleeping

An American journalist’s trial began in Iran. Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent, faces espionage charges in a trial that will be closed to the public, including his family. Some US Republicans have attempted to use his arrest to scuttle an impending US-Iran nuclear deal—a goal they possibly share with the hardliners who control Iran’s judiciary.

The first of those accused of rigging Libor was in court. Tom Hayes, a former trader at UBS and Citigroup, faces trial by jury in the UK. He is one of 21 individuals to be charged with manipulation of the interbank lending rate, which has cost banks and brokerages $9 billion in settlements so far.

Brazil warned of a coming crunch. The government said GDP would drop 1.2% this year, or 23% in dollar terms (paywall), because of a weakening real, its worst contraction in 25 years. The corruption scandal at state energy firm Petrobras isn’t helping Dilma Rousseff’s presidency, either.

Greece’s leader subdued his radicals. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras got Syriza’s approval (payall) to reach a bailout deal with the country’s creditors, over the objections of his leftist party’s most extreme fringe. He’s hoping for a deal by June 5, when Greece’s next IMF payment is due, but that news alone couldn’t prop up the euro (paywall).

Twitter was said to be in talks to acquire Flipboard. An all-stock deal would value news reader app Flipboard at more than $1 billion, Re/code reports. Flipboard’s Mike McCue would be an obvious heir apparent to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who has been under siege from investors over the last six months.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the electric car’s problem turning a profit. “Electric cars are currently in a variation of the innovation world’s infamous ‘valley of death’, the pre-profit period when most new products die. In this case, relatively few electric cars are selling well, mainly because they cost too much, go too short a distance before running out of charge, or both.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Greece needs another election. That would give Tsipras a mandate to cut a bailout deal.

Should women wear high heels? They are a symbol of objectification, yet some women feel more powerful wearing them.

Smaller cities are the future of the global economy. They will drive growth in the next decade, not the world’s capitals.

The art market runs on the law of the jungle. Even the finance industry has more rules, says a financier-turned-art-collector.

Surprising discoveries

Apple’s chief designer, Jony Ive, has 5,000 patents to his name. That’s more than twice as many as Thomas Edison.

Some Dutch schools may be shut down for being insufficiently diverse. Kids are going door-to-door “looking for white pupils.”

California’s almonds require a whole lot of bees. At least 80% of the US’s commercial beehives are drafted in to pollinate them.

Why not just live at work? These movable sleeping pods allow you to have a bedroom at the office.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Jony Ive’s patent for a watch that tells the time, and beehives for our almond obsession to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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