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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Asian defense talks, OPEC output targets, the economics of a pastry craze

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

Asian military confab. Defense ministers from across the world meet at the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore for three days of talks about cyber-warfare, North Korea and China Sea disputes.

Xi Jinping’s summer tour. The Chinese president embarks on a diplomatic trip across the Americas, which will include a June 7-8 summit in California with US President Barack Obama.

Patently taking too long. The US International Trade Commission rules on whether Samsung infringed an Apple patent for selecting text on tablets and smartphones. Really, how many ways can there be?

Oil flows in Vienna. OPEC meets in the Austrian capital to set the cartel’s latest output target. Ministers are reportedly planning to keep  production constant, but surprises have been known to happen.

Traffic jams in Frankfurt. The “Blockupy” movement expects to draw thousands of protestors to the European Central Bank and other institutions.

Hard data. India’s economy is expected to have grown 5% over the last quarter, the country’s slowest rate in a decade. Slovenia’s economy probably shrank, and Canada is expected to have expanded by 0.1% in March.

While you were sleeping

Firefighters vs. police in Spain. Austerity protests turned violent, resulting in this striking photo.

Japan is full of surprises.  Industrial growth of 1.7% in April was almost three times higher than analysts expected. But deflation isn’t licked yet—core consumer prices fell 0.4%.

Robin Hood tax axed? EU officials may cut a proposed financial transactions tax by 90%, in a major win for banks.

No love for leaders. US authorities intercepted a threatening letter to Obama that was “similar” to the ricin-laced letter that Michael Bloomberg received. In Australia, PM Julia Gillard had another sandwich thrown at her.

Smartphone democracy in Iran. Relaxed sanctions will allow US companies to sell phones, software, and other communications technology to Iran, in the hopes of fostering a more democratic election next month.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on the misconception behind “too big to fail.” “The focus was never on the ‘big’ part; it was on the ‘fail’ part. Dodd-Frank—introduced in late 2009 and passed in 2010–was meant to create a path that would allow banks and other ‘systematically important’ financial institutions of any size to fail—i.e., cease to exist in name—without causing permanent damage to the US financial system. And in fact, these very policies are most cumbersome for the very smallest banks, and encourage them to get bigger.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The immortal loophole. “Check the box” deprives the US Treasury of $10 billion a year, and there’s not much politicians can do about it.

Drones are the only face of US foreign policy in some countries. That has to change.

Women will evolve out of menopause. It’s an evolutionary throwback and no longer relevant.

Why we lie, and why it’s ok. The right to shape one’s public and private persona.

Hate speechshould be allowed on Facebook.

“I was a Nazi, and here’s why.” A letter from a former Hitler Youth to her Jewish best friend.

Surprising discoveries

French wine sale. President François Hollande is selling off 1,200 bottles of wine from the Elysée Palace’s cellar.

The odds of a coin flip aren’t 50-50. How to win a bar bet.

The cronut business has a scaling problem. The economics of New York City’s pastry craze: the lovechild of a croissant and a donut.

A Chinese painter is outselling Picasso. Zhang Daqian made $500 million in 2011.

English à la Brussels. The EU’s vocabulary “differs from that of any recognised form of English.”

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, justifiable lies and cronut recipes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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