Weekend edition—Women in power, the human cost of tea, illusory time

Good morning, Quartz readers!

If Hillary Clinton, now officially the Democratic candidate, wins election in November, she’ll make history, and not just as America’s first female president. It would mean that for the first time ever, three of the world’s most powerful democracies would be led by women: the US, the UK, and Germany.

What might that mean? Management experts studying leadership saywomen are more collaborative, more inclusive leaders. They build teams; in Clinton’s words, they understand it “takes a village” to run a country, and the world. They do not believe, as Donald Trump does (and not just him: many men do), that they “alone can fix it.”

The US, UK, and Germany all face the big challenges of the rich world today: immigration, terrorism at home and abroad, and a revolt against the one percent. It’s easy to imagine Clinton sitting down with Britain’s Theresa May and Germany’s Angela Merkel to hash out solutions to shared problems.

It’s also easy to see this troika of women developing a cohesive approach towards Russia, Iran, China, Syria, and other countries whose interests often run counter to those of the West. A Trump in that mix? He and his associates look uncomfortably cosy with Russia, and a Trump-Putin axis would be a lot more dangerous for the world than a Clinton-Merkel-May one.

Gender should not be the deciding factor in electing someone to the world’s most powerful office. But the female leadership style Clinton espouses seems more attuned to the needs of the world now. One thing’s for sure: She’s unlikely to brag about the size of her hands, or anything else.—Janet Guyon

FIVE THINGS ON QUARTZ WE ESPECIALLY LIKED

The horrendous human cost of Assam tea. No decent tea shop in the world is complete without its pungent fragrance. But as Devjyot Ghoshal discovers, the Assam region’s 100-year history—from being set up by the British to the Indian government’s mismanagement—has stopped it from taking care of its own people. Thousands of expectant mothers who labor in its plantations have died as a result.

The neuroscience of cool. Marc Bain traces the fascinating evolution of the concept of “cool,” from its introduction (via jazz culture and James Dean) as a symbol of outsiderism, to its mainstreaming, codification, and quantification by marketers and even neuroscientists, who can map in the brain the emotional reactions evoked by looking at cool things.

How the US screwed up chip cards. Decades behind some other countries, the US finally introduced credit and debit cards with chips for added security last year—and it’s been a disaster. Ian Kar explains the muddle of mixed incentives and poor decisions that caused it.

China’s lethal floods and its lethally incompetent officials. For the second time in a month flooding in rural China has killed people, and excessive, unregulated building is being blamed for making towns vulnerable to extreme weather. Echo Huang and Zheping Huang unpick how it came about in Hebei province.

The Clintons and their “pantsuits.” Jenni Avins deliciously skewers the convention of writing about political wives’ wardrobes with a button-by-button dissection of Bill Clinton’s navy-blue two-piece. And Marc Bain on the long feminist historical legacy of the white suit Hillary Clinton wore to accept her nomination.

FIVE THINGS ELSEWHERE THAT MADE US SMARTER

Malaysia’s stolen billions. A Swiss banker and a muckraking British journalist helped crack open a global financial scandal that has engulfed Malaysia’s prime minister. Randeep Ramesh details for The Guardian how the unlikely duo brought a cache of documents to light that exposed the billions stolen from 1MDB, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

For better policing, add female cops. The vast majority of mass killers, domestic abusers, and sexual assailants are male, and most of their victims female. Yet just 9% of cops worldwide are women. While racism is the undercurrent of recent unrest, writes Sarah Smarsh in Longreads, “toxic masculinity is the force that makes it lethal.”

The source of Rio’s filthy water. Guanabara Bay, which will host Olympic events such as distance swimming and sailing, is so dirty that doctors are warning athletes not to get water in their mouths. But the Sarapuí River that feeds it starts clean and drinkable. The New York Times’ John Branch describes how the river’s journey through areas rife with poverty now threatens the athletes’ health and Rio’s image.

Is Germany at the end of its golden age? Angela Merkel inherited an economy on the upswing and guided the country through a decade of prosperity and self-confidence. But immigration, terrorism and economic shocks have knocked Germany off its pedestal of well-being, and Konstantin Richter at Politico argues it may not climb back on.

The passage of time might be all in our heads. There’s a heated debate in physics over whether the distinction between past, present, and future—and our perception of moving through them—is physical or just an illusion, Dan Falk writes in The Atlantic. It hinges on the idea of a “block universe,” a static block of space-time in which any flow of time must be a mental construct.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, missing Malaysian billions, and historically meaningful pantsuits to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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