#Alibaba earnings, #Putin’s blame game, Kafka’s Kafkaesque instructions

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

A potential ceasefire in Aleppo. Russia intends to facilitate daily, three-hour ceasefires in the Syrian city starting today, so that humanitarian convoys can bring in aid. The UN and US remain wary of the time constraints and Russia’s ability to enforce the ceasefires.

Alibaba and Macy’s release earnings. China’s e-commerce giant is breaking earnings out into five categories in an effort to providemore transparency (paywall), and will likely report solid revenue growth driven by its cloud computing business. Meanwhile, America’s largest department store is expected to post a 6% drop in year-over-year revenue as it continues to struggle against lower-cost rivals, especially online.

Hillary Clinton lays out her economic plan. The US Democratic presidential candidate will give a speech in Detroit three days after Donald Trump made his big economic pitch there. Clinton will attempt to tear down Trump’s proposal while outlining the core of her own.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the conflict in Crimea. The Russian president said Ukraine was using terror tactics to provoke a dispute, and sees no point in holding peace talks ahead of the G20 summit in China next month.

The US Secret Service had “more than one conversation” with Donald Trump… After the Republican candidate implied that Hillary Clinton could be assassinated, officials had several discussions with Trump and his aides about the remarks.

…and Trump said Barack Obama “is the founder of ISIS.” Hemade the accusation against the US president during a rally in Florida on Wednesday night (Aug. 10), and also criticized Obama and Hillary Clinton for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Pro-government Libyan forces dealt ISIL a blow. With help from US air strikes and Western special forces, they secured the Ouagadougou convention center in Sirte, which the terrorist group had been using for meetings and religious instruction since overtaking the city last year. Winning back Sirte would be major victory for Libya’s UN-backed government.

Canada thwarted a terror attack. National police said an operation in Strathroy, Ontario—about 225 km (140 miles) southwest of Toronto—prevented a suicide bombing in a public area. The lone suspect, who was reportedly killed, had been under a court order to not associate with any terrorist organization.

QUARTZ MARKETS HAIKU

Investors push gold
Prices near a two-year high
Rio medals ain’t cheap

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Michael Tabb on the physics of Simone Biles’ signature move. “Try taking a Barbie or a pencil (or any object, really) and flip it in the air without having it twist at all. It’s basically impossible. But the world’s best gymnasts stay almost perfectly straight. Clearly, scientists thought, these gymnasts have some kinesthetic intelligence that Barbies don’t.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Trying to make people less sexist is pointless. Instead, change the system so that there is less room for bias.

“Joking” about political assassinations isn’t OK. Humor canmake fringe ideas mainstream.

Xi Jinping might want to be a dictator. By purging the ranks of communist youth, the Chinese president shut down one of the country’s two paths to power.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Michael Phelps just tied a 2,168-year-old Olympic record. With 12 individual wins, the swimmer matched a record held by sprinterLeonidas of Rhodes since 152 BC.

Mark Twain really hated the US postal service. He was riled byregulations and the price of overseas shipments.

Olympic boxers don’t wear headgear anymore. The International Boxing Association says helmets might actually lead to more concussions.

Franz Kafka’s manuscripts produced a Kafkaesque legal battle. The confusion was caused by Kafkaesque instructions.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has an “American mom” in California.She was his host when he came to America for a Red Cross-sponsored trip when he was 18, and they’ve kept in touch ever since.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, post-office tips, and uses for defunct headgear tohi@qz.com You can download our iPhone app or follow us on Twitterfor updates throughout the day.

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