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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Europe’s economic carnage, eyes on Google, Foxconn robots

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Surprises from Google. Today is Google’s annual conference for the people who make apps for its platforms. Last year, skydivers arrived at the event wearing Google Glass. This year? More Glass, more gamesmaybe a smartwatch and perhaps more surprises.

The EU meets for Mali. France, donor states and the president of Mali discuss development and the future of the African nation recovering from last year’s Islamist rebellion in the north. The EU will pledge €520 million ($673 million) in aid.

Iran back at the negotiating table. The EU’s top diplomat, representing the coalition of the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, will meet with Iran’s nuclear negotiator in Turkey for another attempt at getting Tehran to allow inspectors into its nuclear labs.

While you were sleeping

Le Double Dip. France entered its second recession in four years, with the economy shrinking 0.2% in the first quarter after a similar contraction in Q4 last year. Meanwhile, the euro zone’s strongest economy, Germany, grew at a mere 0.1%. Italy, the Netherlands, Finland and others also shrunk.

Meanwhile, in London… Britain’s unemployment rate hovered around a bit, dropping 10 basis points from the previous month to 7.8% in March, but up 10 basis points from the previous quarter to 7.8% in Q1. In any case, Britons are now poorer than the French, Swiss, Belgians, Swedes, Austrians, Aussies and Canadians.

HSBC’s Stuart Gulliver wants to save $3 billion by 2016. That does however mean cutting 14,000 jobs.

SingTel profits dipped 33%. The largest telecoms operator in Southeast Asia posted profits of $868 million in the in the first quarter, down from $1.29 billion last year, on one-time costs.

Sanity prevailed in Argentina. Courts overruled the government’s attempt to continue hiding the real (and rather alarming) rate of inflation.

Nigeria declared a state of emergency. President Goodluck Jonathan responded to the “very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity” posed by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the devastating results of Vietnam’s lust for rhinoceros horns. “A rhino-head heist spree swept Europe in 2011, as thieves raided museums and auctions houses in seven countries, prompting 30 investigations by Europol, 20 of which are ongoing. Similar heists have also beenon the rise in Africa, as well as in the odd American backwater town. Meanwhile, an online business thrives as well—including one dealer on Facebook who only accepts bitcoin.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Syria’s civil war is Iran’s Vietnam War. Iran is spending millions of dollars, and much of its credibility, to back the Syrian government against the rebels in a stalemate with no end in sight.

Austerity is a necessary condition for structural reform. The case for spending cuts and tax increases during a recession has come to this: There is no improvement without suffering.

Why Foxconn’s switch from human workers to “Foxbots” hasn’t gone well. Apparently, you still need some human judgment on the assembly line.

Surprising discoveries

Did the Russians plant goofy spy tools on the US diplomat they arrested? Experts say that Ryan Fogle might be a US spy, but that his toolkit—including a bizarre recruitment letter and a compass—doesn’t make any sense.

The Soviets cloned the US space shuttle. And tried to make it safer in the process.

Google CEO Larry Page reveals why he lost his voice. A rare condition affecting his vocal cords makes him speak more hoarsely.

The average American’s personal information exists in over a dozen places online. And someone has worked out how to make money off of it. 

The world’s biggest rubber duck quacks no more. The 16.5-meter bath toy deflated in Hong Kong’s Victoria harbor, its latest stop on a world tour.

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