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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Virgin America suitors, Japanese stimulus, paying convicts to not murder

This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Turkey’s president makes an uneasy US visit. Recep Tayyip Erdogan won’t get a one-on-one meeting with Barack Obama (paywall) amid US concerns about Turkey’s crackdown on dissent and democracy. Later in the week, Erdogan will attend a nuclear security summit with more than 50 world leaders.

Protests against Xi Jinping’s visit to Prague. A pro-Tibet rally will take place outside the Prague Castle as China’s president meets with his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, who has come under fire for his pro-China policies.

Japan gives direction on economic stimulus. Prime minister Shinzo Abe will announce details of a new stimulus package, which may include delaying a sales tax hike. He could also introduce vouchers for shopping and child care, along with a pay raise for workers at the country’s overcrowded nursery schools.

While you were sleeping

The FBI ended its battle with Apple. The US law enforcement agency dropped its legal case against the tech giant, having unlocked an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters without the company’s help.

Suitors lined up for Virgin America. JetBlue and Alaska Air are interested in taking over the airline, sources told Bloomberg, and a deal could be announced as early as next week. Virgin shares rose by nearly 10% on the news.

Japan released mixed economic results for February. Retail sales fell 2.3% month-on-month from January, the biggest monthly contraction since April 2014 (paywall) and a sign the economy is struggling to rebound. But overall household spending rebounded by the most in six months (paywall).

Indonesia confirmed the hijacking of a vessel in Philippine waters. Its foreign ministry said the 10 crewmen—all nationals—had been kidnapped and were being held for ransom, purportedly by the militant group Abu Sayyaf.

Quartz markets haiku

Becalmed sailboats bob
Gulls dangle, in want of wind
Wait ’til jobs Friday

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve Levine on Elon Musk’s moment of truth. “If motorists buy the Model 3 in the hundreds of thousands, he will have delivered on his vow to make an electric for the general public. The consequences of all this turning out well could be considerable profit for Musk and his investors, not to mention a new upheaval in geopolitics.” Read more.

Matters of debate

“Solitary” confinement is even worse with a cellmate. Thousands of US prisoners are forced to share incredibly tiny spaces, sometimes with homicidal roommates.

Tech firms now run Western politics. With democracy under threat from terrorism and rising inequality, Google and Facebook have taken control.

America’s “Superman” obsession highlights a hypocritical attitude toward violence. It’s not about bad guys or good guys.

Surprising discoveries

A former Nazi SS officer became an Israeli hitman. Former Mossad officers say Otto Skorzeny was one of Hitler’s favorites.

New Zealand held an Easter bunny hunt. It culled 10,000 rabbits, an invasive species that is decimating the sensitive ecosystem.

A US city is paying criminals to not murder. Convicts in Richmond, California get up to $1,000 a month for not committing gun crimes.

There are two religions where men are more devout than women. They are: Islam and Orthodox Judaism.

Former Australian PM Tony Abbott stole a wave from a teenage surfer. Despite throwing him some side-eye, she was pretty cool about it.

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