Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Snowden’s world tour, China’s squeeze tightens, Supreme Court week

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What to watch for today

Edward Snowden’s world tour. The NSA whistleblower fled Hong Kong for Russia with the help of WikiLeaks and the acquiescence of Beijing. Russian media report that Snowden is currently in Moscow’s Sheremetevo airport and his next stop will be Cuba. He has applied for asylum in Ecuador, according to that country’s foreign minister.

Nelson Mandela’s condition worsened. The 94-year-old former South African president has been in the hospital for two weeks with a lung infection, and he is now in critical condition.

Berlusconi’s sex trial verdict. The 76-year-old former Italian prime minister is accused of sexual misconduct with an underage prostitute and could receive a six-year sentence and lifetime ban from public office.

A peaceful transition in Qatar? The gulf state’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is meeting with members of the ruling family about an orderly succession to the crown prince, Sheikh Tamim, according to state-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera.

A week of high-stakes legal rulings in the US. The Supreme Court is expected to issue decisions on politically explosive issues like same-sex marriage, affirmative action, and voting rights.

Over the weekend and while you were sleeping

China’s markets roiled, central bank unrepentant. Stocks in Shanghai plunged on Monday as policymakers issued a terse statement that did little to allay fears of a credit squeeze. An editorial in the state-run news agency explained: “It’s not that there’s no money, it’s that the money is not in the right places.” Analysts think there’s more squeezing to come.

Vodafone über alles. The UK telecom giant reportedly reached a preliminary deal to buy Kabel Deutschland for €7.7 billion ($10.1 billion.) after trumping a rival bid by Liberty Global.

Rio Tinto kept its diamonds. The mining giant scrapped the sale of its diamond mining unit, casting doubt on its plans to pare off up to $19 billion of assets.

Malaysia gasped for breath. A massive cloud of smoke caused by crop burning on the Indonesian island of Sumatra moved on from Singapore.

China and Britain inked a currency deal. The three-year swap line will allow the Bank of England to draw up to 200 billion yuan ($32.6 billion) from the Chinese central bank in the event of a shortage of yuan funds in the UK. It could boost London’s position as a center for issuing bonds denominated in China’s currency.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on extreme-weather architecture: ”The emerging class of architecture suggests the onset of a global design-and-construction industry worth tens of billions of dollars in the coming years. Places such as the Netherlands have had to build around environmental- and weather-related challenges for years. But to the degree that extreme-weather architecture and construction moves to the mainstream, it would become one of the biggest infrastructure businesses on the planet, straddling US, Europe, Asia and Latin America.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Introducing the Tabarrok Curve. Too much protection of intellectual property is bad for innovation.

The global middle class is revolting, and that’s a good thing. The wave of protests in Brazil, Turkey, and elsewhere is an essential check on government excess.

Dismantling the BRICS. The BROOMS are the real frontier markets.

Conflict produces innovation. Managers can learn to use tension to create breakthrough products.

Selfies are not an ideal tool for self-reflection. The self-portraits shot on smartphones are edited to fit the boundaries of who we think we are.

Surprising discoveries

Plants do precise mathematical calculations at night… Biological fractions attuned to a body clock.

…and supermarket vegetables defend themselves against bugs. As long as the light is right.

TGIT, RIP. Saudi Arabia changed its weekend from Thursday-Friday to Friday-Saturday.

Barack Obama personally chooses gifts for his inner circle. The US president gave one former press secretary a framed necktie.

Larry Ellison owns an airline in Hawaii. And the Oracle CEO may be interested in buying a second one.

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