Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Greece’s last-ditch plea, Obama-Rouhani face-off, California vaccine law, smartphone tipping points

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What to watch for today

The world gets an extra second. Global timekeeping authorities are adding a leap second to official clocks at 1am London time on July 1. The fix is an attempt to preserve an old definition of time that has been overtaken by newer methods, and may also put at risk countless critical computer systems.

Dilma Rousseff visits Google. The Brazilian president’s visit is part of an effort to reboot US relations and provide a much-needed boost to Brazil’s economy—and  to Dilma’s approval ratings. She will also visit a NASA research center and have lunch with Silicon Valley executives.

The US Export-Import Bank halts lending. The federal agency, which services loans for foreign customers of US businesses, will stop issuing new loans after Congress left for recess without re-authorizing its activities. The shutdown is a win for conservatives, who have been trying to shut the bank down over the objections of corporate giants like GE and Boeing.

General Mills reports its earnings. The food giant will announce its fourth-quarter results as it restructures its business and cuts costs, including 725 jobs. Other companies that will open their books include spice maker McCormick and liquor company Constellation Brands.

Jupiter and Venus will appear to collide in the night sky. The planetary conjunction of the two distant neighbors will be easily visible with the naked eye. The planets will pass within a third of a degree of each other from the perspective of earthbound observers.

While you were sleeping

Greece made a desperate—and probably doomed—plea for cash. Mere hours before Athens was set to default on a loan repayment to the IMF and have its bailout deal expire, prime minister Alexis Tsipras requested a €29.1 billion ($32.5 billion) loan to cover the country’s debts. But German chancellor Angela Merkel said a new bailout package won’t be considered before the Greek referendum on July 5.

Obama threatened to walk away from extended talks with Iran. The US president said prolonged negotiations to restrict Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions are doomed if Tehran does not comply with Western demands. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said that “if the other side breaches the deal, we will go back to the old path”—a possible admission that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons all along.

More than 1,000 prisoners escaped from a Yemen prison. The jailbreak occurred amid heavy clashes between Houthi rebels and their opponents, though a Yemeni news agency claims the prison also came under attack from al-Qaeda. The escaped prisoners include numerous al-Qaeda suspects.

Misty Copeland became the first black principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre. The unlikely ballet star made history after 14 years with the company. She is an outspoken advocate of diversity in dance, and has brought in new, diverse audiences.

California’s governor signed a strict child vaccination law. The measure requires almost all parents to vaccinate their children before they can attend daycare, public school, or private school, regardless of their religious or personal beliefs. The law follows after a scary December outbreak of measles at Disneyland.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian charts the smartphone tipping point. “As smartphones become increasingly affordable and desirable, the holdouts are trading up and first-time buyers are opting for full-featured models. In a recent report, PricewaterhouseCoopers reckons that by 2019 a majority of active mobile connections in the world will be on smartphones.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

iTunes is a hateful piece of bloatware. And Apple probably agrees.

London is a city that is eating itself. As billionaires move in, everyone else is moving out.

Buying in bulk creates more waste. Go to the grocery store more frequently instead of stocking up.

If inequality is a disease, voter turnout is the cure. Poor non-voters in the US overwhelmingly favor progressive policies.

Surprising discoveries

A painting of the Virgin Mary made from elephant dung sold for $4.6 million. It once particularly angered then-New York mayor Rudi Giuliani.

Asteroids are statistically as deadly as plane crashes. On World Asteroid Day, we should recognize that protecting the earth from giant rocks benefits us all.

Female serial killers are serial monogamists. They are also more likely to kill family members than complete strangers.

There are museums where you can see preserved tattooed skin. It’s an art that dates back centuries.

By 2050, the US could have more Spanish speakers than any other country. It’s already the second-largest Spanish-speaking country behind Mexico.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, iTunes replacements, and tattooed skin to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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