Quartz Daily Brief—China’s weak exports, Russian blacklist, leaving FIFA, illegal smokes

What to watch for today

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.)

A respite from the Indian heatwave. After the oppressive heat killed more than 2,200 people last week, thunderstorms are expected starting today for the north of India, including Delhi.

A US spying program lapses. US spying agencies will no longer have the authority to collect citizens’ phone records in bulk, when the Patriot Act’s surveillance powers expire at midnight EDT. The US Senate is debating a bill to extend some of the act’s powers while curbing others.

Economic data. The US reveals its latest personal spending and ISM manufacturing data. Also, look for German inflation and Brazilian trade balance data.

Over the weekend

China’s exports weakened. May export orders at Chinese factories contracted at their fastest rate in nearly two years, the HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index showed, while factory output shrank, and factory employment dropped for its 18th month in a row. Growing evidence of a weakening economy is putting pressure on China’s central bank to cut interest rates.

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.

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.

Surprising discoveries

Cristiano Ronaldo may be responsible for a remote dengue fever outbreak. Venezuelans who visited his childhood home off Portugal may have brought it with them.

Long-distance relationships last half as long. A German study shows couples dating long distance stay together less time than those in proximate relationships.

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.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, illegal cigarettes, and tips on long distance relationships to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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