Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Bangkok’s deadly blast, Shell Arctic drilling, smuggled ducklings

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What to watch for today

US housing gets another boost. Economists expect that new home construction will climb for a second month. It has been bolstered by lower unemployment and low mortgage rates, as well as warm summer weather that has more people in a house-buying mood.

Typhoon Goni arrives in the Philippines. The country’s meteorological officials say the storm will bring winds of 130 kmh (80 mph). While it is unlikely to make landfall, it will strengthen the southwest monsoon.

Major US retailers announce their earnings. Wal-Mart is not expected to post big results, while Home Depot, boosted by home improvements is forecast to have a good quarter. Retailers TJX and Dick’s Sporting Goods also report earnings, along with Chinese internet firms Weibo and SINA.

While you were sleeping

A blast in Bangkok killed at least 19 people. An explosion at a major religious shrine at the center of Bangkok’s shopping district killed at least 19 people and injured 120, including many foreign tourists. The blast shattered the peace in a country that has seen little political violence since a military coup last year; no one has taken responsibility for the attack.

The US approved Shell’s Arctic drilling plan. The Obama administration gave final approval to the oil giant to resume drilling in the environmentally sensitive and oil-rich Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast. Drilling was halted in 2012 after several accidents.

Norway’s giant wealth fund decided that palm oil is terrible. The $871 billion sovereign wealth fund said it would remove four Asian companies from its investment portfolio, citing the vast environmental damage they are causing by turning rain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia into palm oil plantations.

A big deal for Australian transport. Canadian asset manager Brookfield Infrastructure bought the Australian freight firm Asciano for $8.8 billion, to form a large port, rail and logistics giant. The deal is the latest in a string of foreign firms buying into Australian infrastructure.

Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison after 10 months. The former Paralympic runner, convicted of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, will serve the rest of his 5-year sentence at the home of his uncle outside Pretoria, where he will wear a monitoring device.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on how US and China are clashing over tracking corrupt Chinese officials.“Chinese agents have crossed the globe to track down economic fugitives and corrupt officials—as well as their overseas assets—through official and unofficial channels, often buoyed by promises of help from foreign governments.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

An emerging markets bubble is emerging. Economies are teetering because their political systems are failing.

Donald Trump is a nightmare for Republicans. He won’t win, but he is shaping the US presidential race in the worst way for the party.

It is finally time to boycott Amazon. Its brutal corporate practices are the final straw.

Burger-flipping robots may come sooner than you think. The push to raise fast food minimum wages could accelerate the process.

Big Agriculture’s next frontier is aquaculture. Giants like Cargill are getting into the business of feeding fish.

Surprising discoveries

A 1970s makeover won’t help you escape justice in Lebanon. Despite retro glasses and a comb-over hairstyle, authorities caught a fugitive cleric.

Russian border officials burned 50 smuggled ducklings. The Ukrainian fowl did not have the appropriate documents, the officials said.

There’s an app that drives you to a random bar. It’s a mashup of Uber and Yelp.

Discarded wax figures are getting an afterlife. Tom Cruise has been recast as Jesus at the UK’s Bible Walk museum.

An ancient whistling language could shed light on the human brain. Used in the mountains of Turkey, it carries messages up to 3 miles (5km).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, whistle messages, and discarded wax figures to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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