Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Mozilla’s operating system, Morsi’s ultimatum, Steinway sale, head transplants

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What to watch for today

Action from Australia’s central bank. The bank holds its monthly policy meeting in the shadow of a slowdown in China denting demand for raw materials. The bank had left rates unchanged at a record low of 2.75% last month.

US automakers cruising steady. Car makers are projected to finish the first half of 2013 on a strong note, selling more cars last month than any previous June since 2007. Factory orders for May will also be released.

The US’s biggest alcohol retailer reports. Constellation Brands is expected to post a 1% rise in per-share earnings and a 6% increase in revenue (paywall). A $4.5 billion deal with Grupo Modelo, which made Constellation the country’s number 1, was closed at the very end of the quarter.

Mozilla out-Googles Google. The first smartphones running on Mozilla’s new mobile operating system, based on the Firefox web browser, will go on sale in Spain. It’s a step ahead of what Google’s doing, but Google probably doesn’t care.

While you were sleeping

An ultimatum from Egypt’s generals. President Mohamed Morsi dismissed as a “coup d’etat” the army’s threat to intervene if he fails to defuse Egypt’s biggest ever street protests within 48 hours. But if he is ousted it might not be another victory for the people, but for the military.

Edward Snowden can stay in Russia. President Vladimir Putin said the NSA whistleblower’s request for asylum would be granted if he would “stop his work aimed at bringing harm to our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my mouth.”

Portugal’s austerity architect quit. Finance minister Vitor Gaspar was unpopular in his country, though beloved of international lenders, as the public face of the austerity program. He will be replaced by the current treasury secretary.

Another mega-deal in American TV. Tribune Group inked a $2.7 billion agreement to buy all 19 of Local TV Holding’s television stations.  The deal comes less than a month after Gannett agreed to buy Belo for $1.5 billion.

But global deal-making is on the wane. With the world economy still sluggish, global mergers and acquisitions fell by 24% in the first half of 2013, to the lowest level in five years.

Zynga’s CEO stepped down. To the surprise of some who expected more obstinacy, Marc Pincus is giving up the reins at the social gaming company to Don Mattrick, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division. Pincus will stay on as chairman.

A $438 million offer hit all the right notes. 160-year old piano maker Steinway Musical Instruments agreed to be bought out by private equity group Kohlberg & Co.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why seven of the ten least affordable cities in the world are in China. ”In short, policies to curb housing inflation aren’t working. That’s worrying news for the government; housing prices are a major source of public resentment. The danger isn’t just the threat of popular unrest, though: It’s that soaring property prices make people feel less wealthy and less inclined to consume. And that’s exactly what the government needs them to do in order to wean the economy off its dependency on exports and credit-driven investment. Read more here.

Matters of debate

The losing battle to keep the internet free and open. It’s becoming accountable to corporate shareholders more than citizens.

Apple needs the iWatch more than you do. The gadget could help Apple arrest its stock’s fall.

Don’t be surprised that they’re protesting in Brazil. Latin America remains the world’s most unequal region.

Startups aren’t only for the young. 

Evidence suggests that entrepreneurs 

get better after the age of 40


Surprising discoveries

Human head transplants are now possible. Thanks to advances in reconnecting severed spinal cords.

Ecuador’s flower growers get Snowden shock. After Ecuador toyed with offering the NSA leaker asylum, the US delayed eliminating tariffs on imports of roses worth about $250 million a year.

The forthcoming cheap iPhone is hideous. Or lovely, if you like your phones the color of candy.

Hitler had 15 food tasters. One recalls how good the food was and how terrified they all were.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, iWatch prototypes, and iPhone color swatches to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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