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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Syrian rebel maneuvers, new China hacks, pharma M&A

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Germany and France want to help the youths. The two countries are presenting a joint blueprint for tackling unemployment, particularly among young people, at the EU “Next Steps” conference. Here’s a live feed.

A Russian, an American and an Italian walk into a space capsule… A Soyuz rocket blasts off from Kazakhstan with a new crew of three bound for the International Space Station. Will any of them become as famous as Canada’s Chris Hadfield?

Tim Cook talks. Apple’s CEO is interviewed live on-stage at the D11 tech conference. Apple fanboys and annoyed US senators will be paying particular attention.

Will Tiffany shine bright like a diamond? The jeweler reports first-quarter earnings. Its shares hit a yearly high last week but it’s been trailing competitors (paywall).

A volcano is threatening to erupt on the Chile/Argentina border, prompting authorities to order the evacuation of a 16-mile area.

While you were sleeping

France and Britain killed an EU arms embargo against Syria. They want to supply weapons to Syrian rebels, or at least be able to threaten to do so. Meanwhile, US Senator John McCain surreptitiously visited Syria to meet rebel commanders and put pressure on the Obama administration.

US defense contractors got hacked by China. Designs for more than two dozen critical weapons systems were compromised. Chinese hackers also reportedly stole classified blueprints for Australia’s new spy agency headquarters.

Sub-prime mortgages are back in fashion. The bonds that triggered the financial crisis haven’t gone away. Bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group is auctioning $8.7 billion of US mortgage debt to plug a capital shortfall. What could go wrong?

M&A optics. Valeant bought eye-care company Bausch & Lomb for $8.7 billion, the latest in a string of 60 debt-fueled acquisitions over five years by Canada’s biggest pharmaceutical firm. AstraZeneca also splashed out $443 million for Omthera, which specializes in fish-oil-derived medicines.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how Chinese tourists are becoming an embarrassment to China’s government. “Uncouth visitors have caused particular strife in Hong Kong, where 70% of the 48 million tourists a year come from the Chinese mainland. But grievances are reported everywhere. Chinese travelers are ignoring dressing customs in Thai Buddhist templesoverrunning the campus of South Korea’s Ewha Women’s University, launching drunken singsongs in Bali and generally being loud in Singapore.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Yahoo is safe, boring, and brilliant. The internet giant made what might just be a great move by offering up to $800 million for video-streaming site Hulu.

Dish Networks is living in a glass house as it throws national security stones at SoftBank.

How to hire good people. Instead of nice people.

Iraq is heading toward civil war. Sectarian violence is returning to levels not seen since 2006.

Shut up about the “flood” of e-waste from the US. It’s not actually a crisis.

Surprising discoveries

Humans are germ factories. We send out a “convective plume” of about 37 million bacteria per minute.

400 years old and still alive.

Evolution loves prime numbers. Why cicadas emerge at 17-year intervals.

Please be seated for a word for our sponsor. Microsoft’s motion-sensing technology rewards TV watchers who sit through ads.

Indian boy born in jail frees his mother. It took him 19 years to save up $180 for bail.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, John McCain action figures and ways to fool Microsoft’s sensors to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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