What to watch for today
The fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. A close vote is expected in the US House of Representatives over a measure that would give president Barack Obama fast-track authority to sign the high-profile trade pact. Republican leadership backs the bill, but Obama’s fellow Democrats oppose it.
A huge tobacco deal closes. Camel owner Reynolds American is acquiring Lorillard, the producer of Newports, for $25 billion. The companies, which will control 34% of the $100 billion US market, will have to sell off some of their brands due to competition concerns.
More hints about US consumer spending. The University of Michigan’s survey on consumer sentiment (pdf) will show whether Americans are spending the extra cash they’ve saved due to lower energy prices. The US labor department also releases its Producer Price Index.
A powerful art installation opens in Kosovo. June 12 marks the 16th anniversary of NATO troops entering the tiny country to end a brutal ethnic conflict. Artist Alketa Xhafa-Mripa is stringing up 5,000 dresses in a soccer stadium to pay tribute to rape survivors.
While you were sleeping
The true scope of the latest US hack was revealed. Investigators say the intruders may have stolen data on 14 million people, up from a previous estimate of 4 million. That covers every federal employee, retiree, and 1 million former employees, according to Bloomberg, which said the US is weighing options such as destroying the data on the hackers’ servers.
Twitter’s CEO quit. Dick Costolo, who led the company through its largest growth period and took it public, will be replaced by co-founder Jack Dorsey on an interim basis. Costolo’s announcement sent the company’s embattled shares up 7% in after-hours trading.
Five African nations created a joint force to fight Boko Haram. Nigeria is leading a coalition of troops that also includes soldiers from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin. The recently elected Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has made fighting Boko Haram a priority; the countries set a July deadline for contributing troops.
Oculus Rift unveiled its consumer headgear. The company, which Facebook bought for $2 billion last year, previewed a device that lets users fully immerse themselves in 3D video games. It did not disclose the price of the headset.
BlackBerry mulled going Android. The struggling Canadian smartphone maker is considering adding Google’s operating system to an upcoming phone for the first time, according to Reuters. That would allow BlackBerry to continue its pivot to building device management software for enterprises.
Hyundai cut production. The South Korean automaker announced it has cut production at one of its domestic passenger car plants by 25%, while its affiliate Kia has reduced working hours at its Chinese plant, on the back of falling sales. The companies blamed currency exchange rates that mean Japanese-made cars are more attractive on the international market.
Quartz obsession interlude
Marc Bain on an algorithm that can measure creativity. “Great paintings are creative forces that transcend their brush strokes, colors, and compositions. They can’t be reduced to mere data, analyzed, and ranked by their creativity. But two computer scientists at Rutgers University respectfully disagree.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Stop saying mobile phones will save Africa. It’s time to think bigger than that.
The BRICS are a drag. The economic woes of China, Russia, and Brazil are spreading to the rest of the world (paywall).
Ireland’s abortion law tortures women. It forces even sick women to carry pregnancies to term and threatens jail for those who abort.
The “Yuccie” demographic is a farce. It’s just white privilege by another name.
Nigeria needs a #BringBackOurBoys campaign, too. It will have to rehabilitate thousands of Boko Haram fighters.
Drones can be lifesavers. Microsoft wants to use mosquito-catching drones to fight epidemics.
A dead man was elected mayor in Mexico. Enrique Hernández, a critic of drug cartels and corrupt politicians, was assassinated last month.
Former cannibals could provide clues about dementia and Parkinson’s. A Papua New Guinea tribe developed resistance to certain diseases.
Fake news destroys lives. A largely fabricated story about a “drunken Santa” in Poland had tragic consequences.
Japanese elevators may soon have toilets. They’re for emergency use during earthquakes and other disasters.