Macron courts Merkel, Trump’s Kim strategy, prison crocodiles

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Emmanuel Macron pushes for EU reform. Meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, the French president will talk up his proposal to expand the bloc’s bailout system. Merkel appears to be on board, but many of her conservative party colleagues are not.

Raúl Castro steps down. The president of Cuba will be replaced by 57-year-old vice president Miguel Díaz-Canel, marking the first time a Castro brother has not held the largely symbolic role since 1976.

Puerto Rico presents its turnaround plan. A panel is set to approve a multi-year financial plan to try and resuscitate the bankrupt island, including slashing pensions and spending on schools. The hurricane-ravaged island suffered another total blackout on Wednesday.

Blackstone reports first-quarter earnings. The US-based private equity and alternative asset giant—it has over $400 billion in assets under management—is expected to post strong quarterly growth, but investors project a year-over-year decline in revenue and profit.

While you were sleeping

Donald Trump explained his strategy for meeting Kim Jong-un. Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate, the president said he would walk out of the meeting with the North Korean leader if it’s not going well. The meeting could happen as early as next month.

Procter & Gamble bought $4.2 billion worth of vitamins. The Cincinnati consumer goods giant, which has been battling slow growth, will buy Germany-based Merck’s consumer-health business for $4.2 billion. P&G will also release its quarterly results today, and not tomorrow as previously planned.

Pet lovers boosted Nestlé. The world’s largest food conglomerate posted better-than-expected sales growth in its latest quarter, thanks to US consumers spending more on pet care. The Swiss firm generated about a third of its revenue in the US last year.

An ex-Playboy model was freed up to talk about her alleged affair with Trump. Karen McDougal reached a settlement with the owner of the National Enquirer, which acquired the rights to her story and then buried it ahead of the US presidential election. McDougal claims she had a 10-month relationship with Trump in 2006.

New York’s attorney general sought the power to bypass presidential pardons. Eric Schneiderman is pushing to change the state’s laws (paywall) so that he and other local prosecutors can bring criminal charges against Trump aides who have been pardoned. US presidents lack the authority to pardon offenses at the state level.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve Mollman on how the peace agreement being discussed ahead of the inter-Korean summit is 65 years overdue. “[The 1953 truce] was meant to be a temporary document at best. It states the objective of ‘establishing an armistice which will insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea… until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.’ Of course, that never happened.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Elon Musk says to eliminate “dumb things” by flattening communication. Other productivity tips include walking out of meetings if you’ve got nothing useful to say.

The Echo Look proves that style is just an algorithm. Amazon’s new AI-driven outfit analyzer reveals that fashion sense is entirely unoriginal.

Trump shouldn’t underestimate Japan. Undiplomatic tweets (paywall), denying tariff exemptions, and favoring China could discourage Shinzo Abe from backing the US on Russia.

Surprising discoveries

Indonesia is removing crocodiles from prison moats. Authorities are looking into less punitive measures for drug addicts—like medical help.

More people have Amazon Prime than live in Germany. CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that there are now over 100 million Amazon Prime members around the world.

A startup is disrupting the piggy bank with a cryptocurrency wallet for kids. Pigzbe aims to usher in “a new piggy-banking paradigm.”

Strong winds are causing tumbleweed pileups in Southern California. In one town, tumbleweeds trapped people inside their house.

Iceland’s bitcoin-heist mastermind escaped prison. Sindri Thor Stefansson is still missing after he fled the country on the same plane as the prime minister.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, crocodiles for adoption, and tumbleweed traps to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jill Petzinger and edited by Jason Karaian.