Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—China’s lending caps, Greek talks resume, US-Euro supermarket merger, eye-burning swimming pools

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What to watch for today

Greece’s lenders play “let’s make a deal.” A late-night session failed to produce a solution to Greece’s looming default, and the country’s creditors are set to reconvene talks with Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras around midday in Brussels.

A Petrobras lawsuit hearing kicks off. The Brazilian state-run oil giant faces a class-action lawsuit from investors, including US pension funds, who are seeking damages in the wake of a massive bribery scheme that erased $60 billion from the company’s market capitalization. US District Court Judge Jed Rakoff will hear the case in Manhattan.

North Korea and South Korea mark 65 years since the outbreak of war. The exact death toll from the Korean War remains uncertain, but it is well into the millions. While fighting ended after three years, the countries are technically at war, with tensions perpetually running high.

Corporate earnings on tap. Nike, Accenture, Barnes & Noble, and Micron Technology are among the companies releasing their quarterly numbers.

While you were sleeping

China prepared to let banks borrow as much as they want. A central bank proposal to remove lending caps is a sign that monetary policy has failed to free up enough capital for small- and medium-sized businesses. There’s one obvious flaw in the plan: most banks already have plenty of cash to lend.

European supermarket operators merged to form a global giant. Dutch operator Ahold, owner of Giant and Stop and Shop, and the Belgian Delhaize group, owner of Food Lion and Hannaford, said they would join forces in the face of new competition from Wal-mart and other rivals. The combined chain will have 6,500 US and European stores and annual sales of $60.6 billion.

The US economy isn’t doing as badly as some feared. The third and final estimate of first-quarter GDP growth from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis offered a far less gloomy view than the previously reported 0.7% annual contraction; GDP in fact fell by 0.2%. What’s more, retail sales and employment are up, the housing market is doing better, and manufacturing is stabilizing.

Alabama quietly took down the Confederate flag. Governor Robert Bentley unilaterally ordered the flag’s removal from the state capitol, saying the decision was “partially” related to the deadly shootings in Charleston, South Carolina last week. In other states, including South Carolina, the flag is still the subject of heated debates.

A Netherlands court ordered its government to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Netherlands is negligently violating its citizens’ human rights by not doing enough to lower its emissions of greenhouse gases, a Dutch district court ruled in a landmark judgement. The court ordered an emissions cut of 25% by 2020, compared with a 17-19% reduction that is currently expected.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ended his long silence. The convicted Boston Marathon bomber made a brief sentence at a sentencing hearing, where he was officially given the death penalty by a judge, who was required to follow the jury’s verdict. “I would like to now apologize to the victims and to the survivors,” Tsarnaev said. “I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering I have caused, and for the terrible damage I have done.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on the race to create the next generation of satellite internet: “Is the sky big enough for two multi-billion dollar satellite internet projects? … Greg Wyler’s OneWeb and Elon Musk’s SpaceX both say that within the next three years they will build, launch and operate hundreds, if not thousands, of satellites flying in a low orbit around the earth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Parents, take a break, your child will be fine. Economists say it’s all about the quality of the time you spend together, not the quantity.

Russia isn’t actually that important to China. It was only the country’s ninth-biggest trading partner last year. 

The White House has failed American hostages. An advisor to hostages’ families (paywall) claims the government mismanaged the kidnappings.

People should treat the Confederate flag more like the swastika. Neither symbol deserves to be honored in today’s world.

Surprising discoveries

It’s pee, not chlorine, that gives us red-eye in pools. Even worse, mixing urine and chlorine creates poisonous gases.

A beautiful insect’s larvae can deploy deadly farts. The beaded lacewing uses a “vapor-phase toxicant” to kill termites.

The Kremlin dreams of an independent Texas. American secessionists and the Russian right have formed an unlikely coalition.

Canada wants people to stop flushing goldfish down the toilet. Ponds in Alberta are growing crowded with the invasive carp.

Chechnya’s leader accused the West of violating ”horse rights.” His racehorse winnings have been seized under anti-Russian sanctions.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, invasive goldfish, and horserace winnings to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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