Apple’s Indian prayers, Fed hawk surprise, Alibaba awkwardness

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

China and Thailand hold joint military exercises. The drills are a sign of improving relations between Bangkok and Beijing. That’s in stark contrast to the long-running Thai-US military drills known as Cobra Gold, which have been scaled back since the 2014 military coup.

Turkey is on high alert for potential terror attacks. The US embassy in Ankara is warning American citizens in the country that it is aware of heightened security threats on the Ataturk Memorial, Youth and Sports holiday.

An awkward Alibaba appearance in Florida. Chairman Jack Ma bowed out of a speech at the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition conference, after the e-commerce company’s membership was suspended due to a conflict of interest scandal. Alibaba president Michael Evans will appear in Ma’s place to answer questions about widespread counterfeits for sale on its platform.

Shaky earnings from US retailers. Walmart is expected to post a 2% decline in quarterly sales, to $113 billion, as it struggles to compete with Amazon. Meanwhile, Gap earnings are expected to be terrible, and its CEO said it would be “delusional” not to consider selling its clothes on Amazon.

While you were sleeping

Tim Cook prayed for iPhone success in India. The Apple CEO made his first visit to the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, where the company is eager to overcome regulatory barriers. He announced a new app development center in Bengaluru, India’s startup hub, and visited a temple in Mumbai.

Google unveiled its new voice-based speaker. Google Home is coming out later this year and is seen as a rival to Amazon’s Echo. The tech giant is increasingly focusing on AI assistants as users spend less time on the web and personal computers.

One of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram was rescued. 19-year-old Amina Ali was found wandering in the Sambisa Forest by an anti-Boko Haram militia. She said that more than 200 of her classmates are still behind held by the Islamist group.

The Fed warned of a June interest-rate hike. Newly released minutes from the central bank suggested an increase is likely if the US economy continues to improve. Markets fell sharply but regained most of the lost ground.

Tesla is selling $2 billion of stock to fund its grand ambitions. The company will use the cash to pay for its daunting production schedule for the Model 3: a total of 500,000 cars by 2018, plus building a massive battery factory in the Nevada desert.

Quartz obsession interlude

Chase Purdy on Chinese consumers ditching junk food for healthier options: “Only 51% of consumers in China said they ate Western fast food in 2015…a drop from the 67% who said they consumed fast food in 2012. They have since shifted to healthier, more environmentally-friendly brands.” Read more here.

Market haiku

Your minutes caught us off guard
A rate hike in June?

Matters of debate

“Plus size” clothing is a meaningless, off-putting distinction. The term is alienating women who don’t want to shop in a separate category.

We need Paris-style talks to fix the global food system. Some 20% of food now crosses an international border.

Apple is a victim of rising expectations. It’s why you loved your iPhone at first but hate it now.

Surprising discoveries

Chinese honeymoons are getting really weird. One couple spent their wedding night transcribing the 17,000-word Chinese constitution.

In medieval France, your sex life was everyone’s business. A husband’s inability to perform was considered a larcenous act.

Netflix built a massive operation to handle Chelsea Handler’s dirty jokes. Her new talk show has 200 linguists to translate Handler’s profanity-laced humor.

A single blue diamond sold for a record $51 million. The “Oppenheimer Blue” is the largest and most expensive diamond ever auctioned.

Gay rights groups were barred from a UN AIDS conference. A group of 51 Muslim countries did not want LGBT-friendly groups to attend.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dirty jokes, and weird honeymoon pastimes to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.