Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Greece defaults, China’s tightening grip, smartphone tipping points, deadly asteroids

What to watch for today

Dilma Rousseff visits Google. The Brazilian president’s US visit is part of an effort to reboot 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. Congress left for recess without re-authorizing its activities, among them issuing loans for foreign customers of US businesses. Conservatives consider it a win, despite objections from corporate giants like GE and Boeing.

General Mills reports its earnings. The food giant announces its fourth-quarter results as it restructures, cuts costs, and eliminates more than 700 jobs. Other companies opening their books include spice maker McCormick and liquor company Constellation Brands.

Jupiter and Venus “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 defaulted. The country missed a €1.7 billion ($1.9 billion) payment due to the International Monetary Fund after it failed to secure extra bailout cash. That makes an exit from from the euro zone more likely, but not guaranteed. The nation has applied for a loan extension, and a referendum later this week could lead to it unlocking more bailout funds.

China’s manufacturing sector failed to grow. The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index rose to 49.4 in June, from 49.2 in May, missing expectations and falling short of the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. Beijing’s official PMI for the month came in at 50.2, indicating slight growth. The statistics bureau pointed to weak demand for goods.

Japanese manufacturers took a turn for the better. The Bank of Japan’s quarterly survey of large manufacturers unexpectedly rose in June, and showed that businesses plan to increase their spending from next year. That’s good news for the bank, which is trying to raise inflation to meet the government’s target of 2%.

China passed a far-reaching national security law. The legislation defines national security in such a way that it includes politics, culture, the environment, and technology. China often cites national security issues when jailing outspoken individuals; the new law could make it even easier for Beijing to silence a greater number of people.

Australia developed a two-tier property market. House prices in Sydney and Melbourne shot up 16.2% and 10.2% respectively in June from a year earlier, on the back of record-low borrowing costs. But house prices elsewhere rose just 5%, prompting concerns that efforts to prop up the economy are creating property bubbles in Australia’s biggest cities.

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.

The death toll from an Indonesian plane crash rose to 141. None of the 122 people on board a military transport flight survived after it hit a residential neighborhood on Tuesday, killing at least 19 on the ground, the military has said. The plane was reportedly carrying paying passengers, which is not allowed, and there has been confusion surrounding who was on board.

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.

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.

Greece will vote “yes” to Europe. The alternative is just too ugly to face.

Surprising discoveries

A painting of the Virgin Mary made from elephant dung sold for $4.6 million. The work angered Rudy Giuliani when he was New York’s mayor.

The likelihood of dying from an asteroid strike is similar to that of dying in an airplane crash. 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.

Some museums preserve tattooed skin. It’s an art that dates back centuries.

The US could soon 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 dung-based art to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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