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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and African edition—Queen Elizabeth speaks, IRS hacked, healthy Pizza Hut, and artificial cadavers

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

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What to watch for today

The new British parliament opens for business. Queen Elizabeth II will read a speech written for her by prime minister David Cameron’s team. It will lay out the legislative agenda of his government following the Tories’ victory in the May 7 election. The program will include plans for a referendum on Britain’s future in the EU.

The G7 talks money. Finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the bloc of industrialized nations meet in Dresden, Germany. They are likely to focus on Greece’s financial woes (paywall), even though it’s not on the formal agenda. The G7 heads of state meet in June.

The Bank of Canada decides on interest rates. It’s expected to keep them at 0.75%, amid signs that the country’s economy is rebounding. Analysts will look for any mention of how recent weakness in the US economy could affect Canada’s growth.

Madoff employees meet their fate. Three men, including a father-and-son duo, will be sentenced for their participation in the infamous $65 billion Ponzi scheme. All of them pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors.

Earnings on the table: Bank of Montreal, Costco, Michael Kors, Tiffany.

While you were sleeping

Hackers targeted the US’s Internal Revenue Service. They pilfered records filed by 100,000 households and tried to steal as many as 100,000 more. The IRS’s technology is severely outdated, tax officials warned earlier this year, with some applications dating back to when John F. Kennedy was president.

Iraqi forces set out to beat back ISIL. More than a week after the Islamic State captured Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, Iraq’s military and Shi’ite militias have launched a push to reclaim Anbar and neighboring Salaheddin. The Shi’ites say they are in charge of the campaign—a risky and worrying development in the primarily Sunni area.

Amazon had a tiny German tax bill. The online retailer paid Germany $16 million in taxes while generating $11.9 billion in sales in 2014, because it routed most of its revenue through Luxembourg. Under pressure from EU authorities, Amazon said last week it has now started reporting income on a country-by-country basis.

Au revoir, long French holidays. State-owned Électricité de France is offering its workers a cash bonus if they agree to cut their annual leave from 50 to 36 days a year. The government has been trying to roll back France’s legally mandated 35-hour working week—though in fact, French workers are far from being Europe’s most coddled.

A recipe for a “healthier” Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. The two Yum Brands restaurant chains announced they would eliminate artificial coloring and flavors from their products. The decision comes as more fast food restaurants and processed food makers try to appeal to people looking to eat healthier.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the new era for the Chinese yuan. “For more than a decade, China’s taken a verbal beating from other countries for keeping its currency unfairly cheap. Those days might finally be over. The yuan (a.k.a. the renminbi) is no longer undervalued, the International Monetary Fund’s Markus Rodlauer said earlier today, while also urging Chinese leaders to allow the currency to trade more freely.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Ireland’s gay marriage vote is a “defeat for humanity.” This from the Vatican’s secretary of state and Pope Francis’s top lieutenant.

Pakistan is trying to be friends with everyone. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. 

If you’re young, you can be boring, and happy. Forget partying in Ibiza, join your local pottery club for a good time.

There’s so much more to the “beautiful mind” of John Nash. Instead of focusing on his mental illness, let’s talk about his achievements.

Family-friendly workplace policies have unintended consequences. Women are less likely to get hired, or they end up getting paid less (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

The sweet-toothed criminals of Britain. Six men were arrested in Kent after stealing trucks loaded with Toblerone chocolate and whiskey.

Pope Francis hasn’t watched TV since 1990. He promised the Virgin Mary that he wouldn’t succumb to its lure.

Put your new clothing in the washing machine. If you want to avoid germs, allergies, and lice (paywall).

Are artificial cadavers the future of med schools? Professors still say there’s nothing like the real thing.

A Danish radio host killed a baby rabbit on air. To prove some point, apparently…

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, stolen Toblerone, and your pottery crafts to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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