Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Korea gets scarier, Indian brotherly love, America’s most productive export

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What to watch for today

The Korean conflict gets truly scary. The South Koreans are being denied access to North Korea’s Kaesong factory complex, staffed by managers from the South and the source of $2 billion in annual trade. This is a really bad sign. Meanwhile, South Korea wants to make its own nuclear fuel (paywall).

A Hollande Day in Morocco. French president François Hollande starts a two-day trip to Morocco, a major trading partner. Further south, French soldiers remain engaged in Mali’s civil war. Back at home, Hollande’s former tax czar admitted to having a secret Swiss bank account.

Bracing for more bird flu in China. The victim count is now up to seven, and global health watchers are nervous about deadly possibilities. Here’s what you need to know.

A second victory for Monsanto? The agricultural giant will look to beat expectations of $5.27 billion in revenue when it reports quarterly results today. A week ago US lawmakers created a legal safe harbor that will block lawsuits over any ill effects from genetically modified seeds, at the request of the company’s lobbyists. Critics call it the “Monsanto Protection Act.” Shareholders might, too.

The world’s richest cricket league gets going. Backed by some of India’s biggest businesses and heavy on sponsorship, the Indian Premier League has plenty of money riding on it. It has political drama too, with India’s Sri Lanka policy affecting some matches. There’s said to be some sport as well.

An early peek at US employment. Payroll processing company ADP will release its employment numbers for March, generally a good guide to Friday’s official unemployment report.

While you were sleeping

The IMF reached a deal with Cyprus. The IMF will contribute 1 billion euros ($1.28 billion)  over three years to the 10 billion euro Cyprus bailout fund. Separately, Haris Georgiades was sworn in as Cyprus’ new finance minister, replacing ex-Laiki Bank chairman Michael Sarris.

Verizon denied rumors of a bid for Vodafone. Vodafone shares, which have climbed sharply on speculation an offer was coming, promptly took a nosedive (paywall).

Malaysia geared up for elections. The prime minister dissolved parliament, setting the scene for hotly contested elections by the end of the month. Investors are worried (paywall) that an opposition victory may lead to unpredictable market conditions.

The Ambani brothers kissed and made up. Mukesh and Anil Ambani signed a $221 million deal to share a fibre-optic network, the first deal between the estranged siblings since they fell out in 2005.

Australia’s trade deficit narrowed. The gap in February was $178 million smaller than January’s $1.2 billion. Australia’s central bank also reappointed governor Glenn Stevens for another three years.

The UN general assembly passed the first global arms trade treaty. The attempt to regulate the $70 billion business now needs to be ratified by at least 50 countries.  The US, the world’s top arms supplier, supported the treaty; weapons producers China, Russia and Cuba abstained. Syria, Iran and North Korea voted against.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the history behind Ireland’s mortgage problems: “Modern Irish patriotism first coalesced as a revolt against unfair evictions during the so-called land wars of the late 1800s. The period gave Ireland some of its earliest and most enduring political heroes—Charles Stuart Parnell, Michael Davitt—and villains, such as Charles Boycott,  an unpopular, English-born magistrate and collector of rents from Irish tenant farmers. He gave his name, or rather he had it given for him, to the method of organized, non-violent shunning of which he was the subject until he was ultimately driven from the island. Ancient history? Perhaps. But the notion of the sanctity of the family home still carries considerable weight in Ireland.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

What is the Chinese dream? Xi Jingping will need to figure that out.

Cheap energy won’t save US jobs. Why can’t fracking solve all our problems?

Ben Bernanke should just give everyone money. Could an actual helicopter drop do the trick?

The man behind “Web 2.0″ is a hustler. Evgeny Morozov has a problem with Tim O’Reilly’s “meme-engineering.”

Surprising discoveries

The Queen of England got a raise. Everyone could do with an extra £5 million ($7.5 million).

Phablets, PadFones, Gigantophones…Is there a hardware solution to these lexicographic monstrosities?

A 15-mile queue to load Brazilian soybeans onto ships. Or, infrastructure is important. 

Meet one of Hitler’s food tasters. It took 95-year old Margot Wolk a long time to enjoy food again.

Fighting the trade deficit, one swimmer at a time. International demand for American sperm is on the rise.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, terrible tech portmanteaus and engineered memes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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