What to watch for today
Beijing bans smoking. The Chinese capital is banning cigarettes from restaurants, offices, and public transport and increasing the fine on offenders to 200 yuan ($32.25), up from just 10 yuan ($1.60) now. Anyone who breaks the law three times will be named and shamed on a special government website.
EU bigwigs talk in Berlin. The European Commission’s Jean-Claude Juncker meets with German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande, and industrial leaders to discuss economic reforms (paywall) for the euro zone—and Greece.
Greek talks enter crunchtime. The country has to pay €300 million ($329 million) to the International Monetary Fund by Friday and has said it doesn’t have the money to do so. Whether it can reach an agreement with its creditors to get more money should soon be apparent. (Though we say this every week.)
Economic data. The US reveals its latest personal spending and ISM manufacturing data. Also, look for German inflation, Brazilian and South Korean trade balance data, and a raft of PMI manufacturing figures from countries around the world.
Over the weekend
World powers meeting on Iran found one thing to agree on. Top negotiators from the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China inched closer to a deal over Iran’s nuclear program after figuring out a way to reinstate UN sanctions if Tehran cheats, Reuters reported.
Beijing and Washington dial back the rhetoric. The two powers have been trading barbs over China’s island-building in the South China Seas. But they managed to tone it down at a security conference in Singapore. “The atmosphere has calmed a bit,” said a Chinese delegate at the meeting.
John Kerry cuts short his trip to Europe. The US secretary of state fell off his bike while riding a section of the Tour de France near Geneva, and broke his leg. Kerry returned to the US for medical care.
Japan said it will lower the voting age. The aging nation is taking steps to lower it from 20 to 18, a move seen as crucial for nothing less than the future of its democracy. Japan must balance competing priorities like healthcare for the elderly with meeting the needs of its young people.
Russia created an EU blacklist… The foreign ministry is banning 89 European politicians, military leaders and critics from entering the country. It’s said to have created a similar list of unwelcome Americans. The move deepens the rift between Russia and the West over Moscow’s role in Ukraine.
… and Ukraine named a Russia-baiter as governor of Odessa. Former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili will run the region that separates the Crimean peninsula, not occupied by Russia, from Transdniester, another pro-Moscow enclave. Saakashvili, who has been given Ukrainian citizenship, led his country to a disastrous war against Russia in 2008.
Boko Haram welcomed Nigeria’s new president with fresh violence. The terrorist group launched a rocket-propelled grenade attack on Maiduguri, killing at least 13. President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to step up the military campaign against Boko Haram.
Quartz obsession interlude
Kabir Chibber on why we should get rid of FIFA as well as Sepp Blatter. “How would a breakaway work in soccer? Essentially, UEFA or some other body would have to put on an alternative World Cup, with anyone that wants to participate. The idea was mooted in 2011 because of—you guessed it—corruption allegations against key FIFA members.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Retailers have mishandled mobile payments for years. It’s time for them to give up in favor of tech companies.
The Magna Carta is the “the most important bargain in the history of the human race.” Its impact has been felt far beyond England (paywall).
Aung San Suu Kyi must speak out on behalf of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya. So says the Dalai Lama.
Google proved a gender-inclusive tech event is possible. Its I/O event had a record number of female attendees.
Cristiano Ronaldo may be responsible for a remote dengue fever outbreak. Venezuelans brought it by visiting his childhood home.
Forty percent of all long-distance relationships end in breakups. And those relationships last just four and a half months.
Latvians consume the most illegal cigarettes in Europe. Slovakians have the lowest consumption.
Tipping in a bad restaurant is misbehavior. At least according to one respected economist.
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