Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Greece’s default, Jupiter “hits” Venus, smartphone tipping points, crap art

What to watch for today

Euro zone finance ministers discuss Greece. A Eurogroup conference call will be held at 11:30am ET to examine a letter sent by Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Greece, which defaulted on a loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund yesterday, has now requested a new loan.

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 to the naked eye. The planets—416 million miles apart—will pass within a third of a degree of each other from the Earth’s perspective.

The US and Cuba announce the reopening of embassies. The two countries could restore ambassadorial links as early as this month, ending 54 years in which the two nations had no diplomatic relations.

While you were sleeping

Greece (sort of) 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, the first developed country to do so. It joined a list including Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. But ratings agencies do not consider a missed payment to the IMF as a bonafide default.

Xiaomi announced a Brazilian expansion. The Chinese smartphone maker has begun production of its 499-real ($160) Redmi 2 in Brazil, making the country its first market outside of Asia and first production base outside of China. Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi Global, told Bloomberg the company plans to expand to Vietnam, Thailand, and Russia within a year.

Euro zone manufacturing looked good… Markit’s purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.5 in June, up from 52.2 in May and above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. That was helped by France’s own PMI figure rising above 50 (paywall) for the first time in more than a year.

…while Asia’s was mixed. The HSBC/Markit China PMI rose to 49.4 in June, from 49.2 in May, missing expectations and remaining in contraction mode. Japan’s manufacturing sector managed to grow by a slither; Nikkei/Markit’s figure was 50.1, down from 50.9 in May.

China passed a far-reaching national security law. The legislation defines national security in such a way to include 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.

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.

Meat eaters shouldn’t complain about those who eat dog. The farming of chickens is just as brutal.

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

Surprising discoveries

A painting made from elephant dung sold for $4.6 million. The work features the Virgin Mary and once 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. Today is World Asteroid Day.

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

You could buy your own jetpack two years from now. The Martin Aircraft P12 can reach 74 km/h (46 mph).

The US could soon have more Spanish speakers than any other country. It already has more Spanish speakers than Spain.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, jetpacks, and air freshener for our collection of fecal art to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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