Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—NSA snooping, Chinese setbacks in Africa, Turkish Grand Theft Auto

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

The NSA’s massive domestic surveillance program. The Guardian revealed a secret court order that requires US telecom Verizon to hand millions of domestic telephone records to the National Security Agency. Will Americans push back against the Patriot Act—not to mention their phone companies?

Draghi sentiment analysis. The European Central Bank is expected to keep interest rates steady, but investors will tune in for any potential tweaks to its forecasts. The Bank of England is also set stay the course after Governor Mervyn King’s final meeting.

Putting the Xi back in MeXico. China President Xi Jinping, spends one more day in Mexico before heading north to California. Xi and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto have talked about broader cooperation, but a free trade-pact looks far off.

While you were sleeping

French unemployment rose to 10.8% in the first quarter, from 10.5% in the previous quarter. Greek unemployment numbers are due later in the day, and they won’t be pretty.

Good Libor, hello Pibor? The European Commission is proposing to relocate oversight of the scandal-damaged London Interbank Offer Rate to Paris, ending its era of self-regulation. Separately, stock trading started an hour late in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon after a NYSE Euronext computer failure.

Turkish protesters issued demands. A leading group wants the dismissal of governors and security chiefs. Week-long protests have killed two and injured thousands across the country.

Pepsi to guzzle down Sodastream? The Israeli make-your-own-fizzy-water company—which made a controversial anti-soda ad that was banned from the Super Bowl—is reportedly in talks with PepsiCo to be acquired for $2 billion.  

Gabon and Ghana vs China. Gabon is planning to reclaim oil assets held by three international companies, including a subsidiary of China’s Sinopec. In a separate incident, Ghana arrested 124 illegal Chinese gold prospectors—which might just be the tip of the iceberg.

Saudi Arabia suspended internet-messaging app Viber. Skype and WhatsApp could be next.

Quartz obsession interlude

Simone Foxman on why northern Europe has surprisingly large “shadow economies.” ”About half of Danes said they’d paid for undocumented labor in the previous year in a confidential survey, and a full 80% said they would be comfortable doing so. … High progressive tax rates and universal benefits eliminate the incentives to earn more documented income.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Surfonomics is up. Calculating the economic value of the perfect wave.

One third of food doesn’t make it to the table. It’s not because you didn’t finish your supper.

The policy wonk behind Xi Jinping. One of the most influential men in China.

Google is the General Electric of the 21st century. And Larry Page is Thomas Edison.

Why Yahoo will acquire Foursquare. Reason #4: Foursquare’s CEO dresses the part.

Surprising discoveries

There’s a little black spot on the sun today. Actually the coronal hole, the source of strong solar winds, was unprecedentedly massive (and it was last week).

Prosthetic Yakuza pinkies. There’s a big market in Japan to replace the severed digits of mobsters who want to go straight.

Unembargoed US-Iran exports. Nearly $2 million worth of bull sperm, and a bunch of other weird stuff.

What Turkish protestors learned from Grand Theft AutoHow to fight cops, according to the popular “GTA” graffiti.

“What is, ‘curing cancer?'” IBM’s Jeopardy champion supercomputer has moved on to this.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, GTA tactics and NSA evasion strategies to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.