#Alphabet and #Amazon, #United pays up, cobalt hero

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY AND OVER THE WEEKEND

The EU hosts a Brexit summit. Leaders from European Union member countries will come together Saturday to discuss Brexit practicalities, including what to do about passports (paywall) once the UK is no longer a member.

SpaceX launches a classified payload into orbit. Elon Musk’s reusable-rocket company could gain more government contracts if its Sunday launch for the National Reconnaissance Office—part of the US defense department—proves successful. (Psst, it’s probably a spy satellite.)

US lawmakers thwart a government shutdown. A vote is expected today for a bill that would fund government operations for one more week while a longer-term deal can be worked out.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Donald Trump warned that a “major, major conflict with North Korea” is possible. But the US president told Reuters he’d prefer a diplomatic solution to the problem presented by the rogue nation’s weapons development programs. Meanwhile his secretary of state Rex Tillerson said direct talks with Pyongyang could happen—as long as the agenda was denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

Alphabet and Amazon notched stellar first quarters. A controversy over YouTube ad placement failed to dent Google’s parent company, which saw revenue jump 22% from a year ago. Amazon’s net profit rose 41% from a year ago, although the engine of that growth, cloud computing, is slowing down. (It was a big day for corporate earnings, so here’s an emoji cheat sheet.)

Re-accommodation-gate ended as United Airlines paid up. The company settled a lawsuit with mistreated passenger David Dao for an undisclosed sum. It also announced it would offer up to $10,000 in compensation to passengers who take another flight when the airline overbooks.

Uber’s autonomous-driving chief stepped aside. Anthony Levandowski is recusing himself from all work on self-driving cars amid a legal battle between Uber and Waymo, the Alphabet spinoff where he once worked. Waymo alleges he stole nearly 10 gigabytes of “highly confidential” data before leaving to found a driverless trucking startup that Uber then acquired.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Ephrat Livni on an insanely detailed map of US racial diversity.“The free map tracks racial diversity spatio-temporally by laying census data from 1990 to 2010 over detailed grids from NASA satellite maps… ‘People don’t realize that the United States is a diverse country but at the same time is still very segregated,’ says astrophysicist Tomasz Stepinski.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

American gives / a raise. Wall Street sells its shares. / So much is made clear.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Trump’s tax cut is radical, but America can afford it. An investment in the US economy would be worth the increase in the national debt.

It’s time to hand science over to machines. AI can find relationships and correlations that are beyond the grasp of the human mind.

Japan’s most powerful political bargaining chip is its culture.Sushi and manga are two obvious examples of Japanese soft power.

QUARTZ ANNOUNCEMENT

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SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Asians spend seven times as much as Americans on tutoring their kids. Asian households devote about 15% of their income to supplemental education, compared to a mere 2% in the US.

Drug dealers are lacing heroin with an elephant tranquilizer.Carfentanil, 5,000 to 10,000 times stronger than morphine, is being blamed for a surge in fatal overdoses.

Khloe Kardashian is being sued for posting a picture of herself on Instagram. The photo was taken by a paparazzo, who claims the social media star did not have the proper rights.

Cobalt is the unlikely hero of 2017. The metal’s price has soared nearly 70%, more than any other commodity, due to demand for rechargeable batteries and electric cars.

Crowded subways are golden opportunities for online retail.Cramped commuters buy 45% more than those on uncrowded trains.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Khloe selfies, and money for tutoring to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or downloadour apps for iPhone and Android.

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