Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Greek banks close, China cuts rates, SpaceX rocket explodes, rat dreams

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What to watch for today

A deadline extension on nuclear talks with Iran. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif returned to Tehran to “consult with the leadership” on the state of negotiations, after meetings in Vienna. A June 30 deadline for the six countries looking to broker an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program will likely be extended a few days, a US official told NBC News.

A big healthcare deal is in the works. Following last week’s Supreme Court decision keeping the Affordable Care Act intact, investors predict consolidation in the healthcare market. The first big deal: Aetna, the second-biggest health insurer in the US, is expected to buy Humana in a deal that would be worth more than $29 billion. Unless UnitedHealthcare buys Aetna first.

Home sales in the US are expected to drop. The National Association of Realtors releases May’s US home sales data. The figures are expected to show a 1.2% drop, after a 3.4% climb in April.

Burundi edges closer to a civil war. Elections are scheduled for today in Burundi, but the African Union has announced that it will not observe them as previously planned. The UN also called for a delay, citing political insecurity after the head of parliament fled the country on Sunday following weeks of violence.

Over the weekend

Greece shut its banks. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras announced the country would close its banks and stock market on Monday and restrict money transfers and withdrawals. The measures—designed to prevent a run on Greek banks—could effectively “freeze” the nation’s economy; here’s everything you need to know about the crisis.

Puerto Rico said it cannot repay its debts. Governor Alejandro García Padilla told the New York Times the island is unable to repay its $72 billion in debt (paywall), and that it will likely seek concessions from creditors. Calls for concessions from Puerto Rico (a US territory) could have a negative impact on borrowing for US states.

A fire injured hundreds at a party in Taiwan. Colored powder thrown into the crowd at a water park caught fire during the show, injuring almost 500. Authorities arrested the party organizers and launched an investigation.

A SpaceX rocket exploded on its way to the International Space Station. The unmanned rocket, carrying four tons of supplies and scientific cargo, blew up only minutes after launching. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.

China cut interest rates to a record low. The People’s Bank of China announced a one-year rate cut of 25 basis points to 4.85% after the Shanghai Composite stock market dropped 7.4% on Friday and concerns over local government debt mounted. While the cut, the fourth since November, was designed to inject confidence into the markets, they were down sharply Monday morning.

An Argentine judge stirred up more Falklands controversy. The federal judge ordered the seizure of boats and other assets worth $156 million from five companies drilling for oil, though it is unclear how the order will be implemented. Argentina claims sovereignty over the islands, but they are controlled by Britain.

The UK thwarted a terror attack. Prime minister David Cameron heightened security (paywall) after officials foiled a plan to bomb a London parade Saturday. After attacks in Tunisia, France, and Kuwait, Britain’s terrorism threat level is “severe.”

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on the unfolding Greek tragedy. “Although the logic of the Greek government’s referendum gambit is understandable—in essence, let the people pick their poison—its execution is clumsy, to say the least. There is the surreal possibility that, on July 5, Greeks will vote on a proposal that is no longer on offer.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The productivity paradox is back. Productivity is falling globally, especially in the US and China.

You’re probably recycling wrong. Small bits of paper, condiment packets, and plastic bags are all unwelcome items.

Europe is letting itself down over immigration. Modern Europe was built on human rights, but countries are abandoning that in the face of a few migrants (paywall).

Sex is about to get safer in the US. It’s only a matter of time before ”yes means yes” becomes law.

A Greek exit would be a tragedy. Athens only has itself to blame.

Surprising discoveries

Sikhs are a crucial part of Italy’s parmesan cheese industry. Immigrants from Punjab have kept the tradition alive in Italy’s Po Valley since the 1980s.

Nearly half of Americans don’t know what their spouses earn. When asked about their partners’ earnings, more than 40% of Americans answered incorrectly. One in 10 was off by over $25,000.

The first rainbow flag was raised in 1978. Now an international icon, it was first flown at the United Nations Plaza in San Francisco.

Rats dream too. Scientists found they dream of ways to get what they want.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, salary guesses, and parmesan cheese to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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