Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—ECB gets the A-OK, Morsi’s final verdict, Buffett in Asia, Lego professor

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What to watch for today

The US Federal Reserve gets together. The agency’s Federal Open Market Committee discusses the timing of its first interest-rate hike since 2006, but investors don’t expect action just yet.

Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi is sentenced. The country’s ousted president was sentenced to death along with 100 others last month for their role in riots and a prison break in 2011. A court today gave Morsi a life sentence for spying before revealing whether it will uphold his death sentence on the advice of Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the country’s highest religious authority.

An update on the US housing market. Recent figures have showed a brighter mood among housebuilders and homebuyers; housing starts hit a post-recession high of 1.14 million in April. Today’s data, covering May, are expected to be a bit lower, at 1.1 million.

Adobe reports earnings. The maker of Photoshop is expected to show a strong second quarter as it continues to reap the benefits of switching from selling boxed software to monthly subscriptions. But analysts are worried about margins after Adobe began offering discounts to convince users to make the switch.

While you were sleeping 

The European Central Bank got the green light. The European Court of Justice ruled that the bank is allowed to buy unlimited amounts of bonds from euro zone states, in a crisis-fighting program that was unveiled in 2012 but not yet deployed. The policy could help the ECB contain the contagion (paywall) of a Greek exit from the eurozone, if it comes to that.

UnitedHealth approached Aetna about a takeover. The largest health insurer in the US sent Aetna a letter to enquire about the possibility of a tie up, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). A deal would likely be worth over $40 billion, and comes amid a rush to consolidate following the implementation of Obamacare.

Warren Buffett pushed into Asia. The American billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway investment firm announced that it will pay A$500 million ($387.8 million) for a 3.7% stake in Asia-focused Australian insurer IAG. The companies signed a 10-year agreement in which Berkshire will receive 20% of IAG’s premiums and pay 20% of its claims.

WestJet secured a new London route. The Canadian carrier will offer budget long-haul flights to Gatwick. That will help Gatwick in its case to build an extra runway, in which it is competing against Heathrow; a government decision on which airport gets the go-ahead is expected soon.

GitHub sought a $2 billion valuation. The San Francisco-based company that helps customers build software is raising $200 million, according to Bloomberg. GitHub has 8 million users and charges a monthly fee to store code on its site.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Narula on why Palau is setting foreign fishing boats ablaze. “The president of Palau, a tiny island nation in Micronesia, decided in 2014 to ban commercial fishing as a matter of marine conservation. Palau has jurisdiction over 230,000 square miles of ocean, and its plan to kick the world’s fishermen out of this area—indefinitely—garnered praise, and also a good bit of skepticism.” Read more here. 

Matters of debate

We should embrace crying at work. A good cry reduces stress, and can forge bonds between colleagues.

Russia remains attractive for migrants. Contrary to Barack Obama’s comments, more remittances come from Russia than any European country.

Magna Carta is still relevant. On its 800th anniversary, its democratic legacy lives on.

Parents shouldn’t be so quick to circumcise. Let sons decide for themselves.

Surprising discoveries

An Italian surgeon will perform the world’s first head transplant. The surgery, planned for 2017, will require 100 medical workers.

Jeb Bush’s campaign website contains a synopsis of Die Hard. It was written into the source code.

The University of Cambridge is seeking a Lego professor. Creating a culture of learning through play are among the responsibilities.

Polar bears are killing dolphins in the Arctic. And resourcefully freezing them for later.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, spare Lego blocks, and secret source code to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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