Weekend edition—#Germany’s culture, #Vietnam’s content farms, humanity’s demise

Good morning, Quartz readers!

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” That’s Oscar Wilde in his 1889 essay, “The Decay of Lying.” Considering the most dominant cultural expression of our time seems to be the endless stream of movies set in the Marvel Comics universe, it’s no wonder Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are morphing into real-life superheroes before our eyes. This week, Bezos’s Amazon unveiled a slew of products that bring affordable Alexa AI technology even deeper into our homes—right onto nightstands, even. Musk, our non-fictional Tony Stark, has come up with Mark 2 of his plan to colonize Mars. While he’s at it, he’s promising rocket-ship rides between cities right here on Earth.

As I write this, I’m excited to go to my nearest Whole Foods and buy some steak for dinner. I wonder whether Bezos’s price cuts since acquiring the high-end grocery chain (known as “Whole Paycheck,” even by its CEO) have extended to animal protein, and when lab-grown meat will make the butcher counter obsolete. As I mull ribeye v. porterhouse, Musk is coming to Puerto Rico’s rescue, sendingTesla battery packs to the hurricane-stricken island. He leapt into action as Donald Trump’s White House had to be poked and prodded into grudgingly waiving outdated regulations to extend desperately needed aid.

But, superheroes can’t fix all our problems, especially if they’re more interested in celestial bodies. “It’s 2017, we should have a lunar base by now,” Musk says. What would be even nicer to have in 2017 is an Earth free of another horrific refugee crisis born of religious persecution, which is what’s happening as the Rohingya flee Myanmar. While we beg Jeff Bezos to throw Amazon’s clout behindfixing the health-care industry, it’s also worth remembering superheroes tend to attract supervillains. So, maybe the future of the human race shouldn’t be left solely in the hands of our friendly neighborhood billionaires.—Paul Smalera

FIVE THINGS ON QUARTZ WE ESPECIALLY LIKED

The old origins of new meat. After hotshot food startup Hampton Creek revamped its board, it started gobbling up patents and IP for lab-grown meat, including an original patent that the Indonesian-born Dutch soldier Willem van Eelen dreamed up in a 1930s prisoner-of-war camp. Chase Purdy dives into the unlikely history of the man known as the “godfather” of meat growing technology, bringing readers to the moment of its, uh, conception.

Germany’s cultural values are the opposite of Silicon Valley’s.The Free Democrats, or FDP, won 10% of the vote in Germany’s election with a platform that boasts a distinctly startup-style, tech-friendly ethos. But Rebecca Schuman writes that the vast majority of Germans aren’t eager to emulate Silicon Valley culture, with its emphasis on careerism and individual success. “To most of Germany, the hagiography of bootstrap capitalism is not just morally wrong,” she writes, “it’s incomprehensible.”

What the world’s financial bigwigs think about bitcoin, in emojis. If you’re a business titan, you’d better be prepared with a considered view on bitcoin. Joon Ian Wong and John Detrixhe break down the opinions of the likes of Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio, and Jamie Dimon on a scale of 🤑, 🤔, or 😰.

A shoplifting solution was ruled “textbook extortion.”Corrective Education Company, which contracts with big retailers like Walmart, offers the accused a choice—get turned into the police, or pay hundreds of dollars for a “restorative justice” course. Hanna Kozlowska reports that critics, including a California judge, say the approach can too easily strip people of their rights.

Tough times in AMERICA! America in 2017 is a divisive, messy, baffling place. So is AMERICA!, a chain of USA-themed airport and casino gift shops whose merchandise has become starkly political since 2016. Corinne Purtill traveled to Las Vegas, the headquarters of AMERICA!, to see how the story of a divided nation plays out in tchotchkes and t-shirts.

FIVE THINGS ELSEWHERE THAT MADE US SMARTER

“Made in Vietnam” now applies to your information as well as your t-shirt. Facebook and Google have powered the rise ofEnglish-language content farms around the world. The sites churn out articles on seemingly random topics—Native American subjects are unusually popular—and are often plagiarized, or just plain fake. That’s worrisome, explains Buzzfeed’s Craig Silverman, for content that focuses on health, for instance, or, say, politics.

Why environmental activists shouldn’t talk about overpopulation. More people use more resources, but Vox’s David Roberts explains why it’s dumb to make a big deal about it: “Talking about population growth is morally and politically fraught…the best ways of tackling it (like, say, educating girls) don’t necessitate talking about it at all.”

Humanity’s demise may be lurking in complex software. Our way of thinking about engineering failures no longer works. Software, unlike mechanical systems of the past, confers infinite flexibility—and just as many ways to fail, from crashed 911-call systems to uncontrolled acceleration in Toyota cars. As we build systems beyond our ability to fully test and understand, James Somers at The Atlantic explores how software engineers may have to give up codingto regain control over their world—and ours.

How I learned to worry about the Bomb. Perhaps because the leaders of two of the world’s nuclear powers are exchanging playground insults with each other, Nickolas Roth at Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom and Matthew Bunn of the Harvard Kennedy School felt now would be a good a time to remind us what happens at ground zero of a nuclear attack. In an article published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Roth and Bunn describe inhorrifyingly captivating detail the sheer destructive power of even the smallest, most elementary of nuclear devices, and what the effects would be if one were set off in a major urban center.

The emotional labor that women do at home. In the 21st century most enlightened men understand that they’re expected to contribute to raising the kids and doing household chores. But as Gemma Hartley writes in Harper’s Bazaar, a lot of men still rely on their wives and girlfriends to tell them what to do, leaving women stuck in the thankless, exhausting position of household manager. “I don’t want to micromanage housework,” Hartley writes, explaining her frustration when her husband says he’s happy to clean up after himself—if she asks. “I want a partner with equal initiative.” The stakes of the issue go to the heart of gender equality, and whether we want a new generation to grow up believing that it’s a woman’s job to silently, sweetly clean up.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, meat patents, and restorative justice tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day, or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

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CWS Market Review – September 29, 2017

CWS Market Review

September 29, 2017

“Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster;
they tell you nothing about the future.” – Warren Buffett

On Thursday, the S&P 500 closed at 2,510.06, yet another all-time high. We still have one day left, but this could be the eighth straight quarterly gain for the S&P 500. If we include dividends, it will be the 11th straight monthly gain. Not only that, but it looks like this September could be the least volatile September on record.

As well as the big-cap indexes have been doing, the small-caps have been particularly popular lately. On Wednesday, the Russell 2000 skyrocketed 1.5% for its best day since June. (And yes, in 2017, a 1.5% counts as “skyrocketing.”) The index is up nearly 10% since mid-August.

We should be thankful for the market’s good mood, but we should always be prepared for whatever the market throws our way. In this week’s CWS Market Review, I want to focus on some recent economic news. I’ll also discuss the Buy List’s performance so far this year. Later on, I’ll have some updates on our Buy List stocks.

Expect a Good Earnings Season Next Month

On Thursday, the government updated its report for Q2 GDP growth. They now say that the economy grew, in real terms, by 3.1% during the second quarter. That makes it one of the better quarters in this cycle, but will the good news last?

I’m not so sure. We may slip back into our 2% trend line that’s been very hard to shake for several years now. The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now forecasts Q3 growth at 2.1% (Take note of Mr. Buffett’s comments on forecasters in this week’s epigraph.)

Earnings season will soon start; at that point, we’ll get a much better look at how the corporate world fared during Q3. Remember, of course, that profits and the broader economy don’t always need to move at the same speed, or even in the same direction.

Wall Street currently expects the S&P 500 to report Q3 earnings of $32.90 per share. That’s the index-adjusted number. As is often the case, that figure has been pared back as earnings season approaches, but the estimate cuts have been less than we saw during Q2.

If the forecast of $32.90 is correct (if!), that would translate to quarterly profit growth of 14.7%. It would also be the sixth quarter in a row of profit growth for the S&P 500. Some of the previous growth has relied heavily on share buybacks. We’re seeing less of that recently. Share buybacks are down 25% since the start of 2016.

The S&P 500 is currently expected to earn $127.05 this year, and $144.71 next year. That means the stock market is currently going for 17.3 times next year’s earnings. That’s elevated, but I wouldn’t say it’s an obvious bubble. Let’s also remember how low bond yields are. To give you an example, the yield for a five-year TIPs (the inflation-protected securities) is just 0.16%.

This should also be the 30th quarter in a row of growing dividends. As I’ve pointed out a few times, this rally has been about dividends almost as much as it’s been about share prices. For all the talk we’ve heard of a bubble, stock prices have largely kept pace with dividends.

On our own Buy List, we had recent dividend increases from Microsoft (MSFT) and Ingredion(INGR). We may get another soon from RPM International (RPM).

Some Buy List stocks that look particularly good right now include Signature Bank (SBNY), Danaher (DHR), Alliance Data Systems (ADS) and Stryker (SYK).

The Buy List’s Performance So Far

We still have one day left in the third quarter, but I wanted to give you an update on how the Buy List is doing so far this year. Through Thursday, our Buy List is up 11.09%. That trails the S&P 500, which is up 12.11%.

Neither figure includes dividends. I didn’t have enough time to calculate the dividend-adjusted returns, but our Buy List yields a little bit less than the market as a whole. I hope to post all those numbers soon.

While we’re trailing the market at the moment, I think we have a very good shot at once again beating it for the year. Our difficult period came in late July and early August, during Q2 earnings season, when a few bad earnings reports caused our Buy List to lose its lead. That was a tough time for us, but we’ve gotten back on track. Lately, in fact, our Buy List has been beating the overall market.

Also, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the Buy List is making money for us this year. What works against us is that the market’s rally has been skewed to a small number of stocks that have performed very well.

Through Thursday, four of our Buy List stocks are up more than 40%. The big winners are CR Bard, HEICO, Moody’s and Cerner. Remember that sometime in Q4, CR Bard will become Becton, Dickinson.

Our biggest loser this year is Smucker, which is down nearly 19% YTD. The next biggest loser is Signature Bank, which I think looks especially tempting below $130 per share. It’s interesting how often one year’s biggest losers becomes the next year’s biggest winner.

Preview of RPM International’s Earnings Report

We haven’t had many Buy List earnings reports lately, but we’ll get another one next week. RPM International (RPM) is due to report before the market opens on Wednesday, October 4. This will be for RPM’s fiscal first quarter, which ended on August 31. The consensus on Wall Street is for earnings of 84 cents per share. That’s an increase of one penny over last year’s result.

This will be an interesting report because RPM has missed Wall Street’s consensus for the last three quarters. The shares dropped 7% after the last earnings report came out in July. I want to see signs of improvement here. RPM makes building materials and adhesives.

In July, RPM said they see Q1 earnings ranging between 83 and 85 cents per share, and between $2.85 and $2.95 per share for the fiscal year. That disappointed investors. Wall Street had been expecting 89 cents per share for Q1, and $3 per share for the fiscal year.

The company blamed a rainy spring for poor results at their Kirker nail-enamel business. I’m usually suspicious when the weather is used as an excuse. A higher tax rate last quarter ate up 12 cents per share.

I also expect to see a modest dividend increase from RPM. They currently pay out 30 cents per share. The company has raised its dividend every year since 1973. I don’t think they’ll go very high, but they’ll do enough to keep the streak alive.

Buy List Updates

This has been a rough year for Ross Stores (ROST), but the shares have improved recently, plus they got a nice upgrade this week. I think the deep discounter got tossed in with many other retailers that were being done in by Amazon, but investors should understand that Ross competes for a different market segment.

Late last year, ROST got close to $70 per share, but by July, it was trading below $52. This week, an analyst at JP Morgan upgraded Ross to “outperform” from “market perform.” That was the latest catalyst in a nice rally over the past month. The stock closed Thursday at $64.80 per share. Notice how often good stocks take their lumps but then come charging back.

Hormel Foods (HRL) announced the resignation of their chairman, Jeffrey Ettinger. He was the CEO until last year. Lately, HRL has been struggling with many other food stocks. The shares seem to have found a floor around $31 per share.

Axalta Coating Systems (AXTA) said it was shutting down operations in Venezuela. I’m surprised it’s taken this long. It’s sad what’s happening in Venezuela. I hope the country can emerge from this crisis successfully.

Sherwin-Williams (SHW) updated its Q3 guidance to reflect the disruptions caused by the recent hurricanes. The company now expects core sales to rise for Q3 in the low single digits. Previously, Sherwin gave Q3 earnings guidance of $3.70 to $4.10 per share. The company has now lowered that range to $3.40 to $3.70 per share. Actually, that’s not as bad as some were expecting. The shares rallied 2% on Thursday on the news. The CEO said, “”While we are still assessing the longer-term impact of these tragic events on our business, the sales momentum we are seeing across most geographies—particularly in our company-operated stores in the unaffected regions of the U.S. and Canada—should enable us to recover some of the third-quarter earnings shortfall over the balance of the year.”

The Financial Times notes that investors are expecting the Bank of England to raise interest rates soon. That’s caused trading volume for Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) to surge to its highest level in four years.

That’s all for now. Q4 begins next week. On Monday, we’ll get the September ISM report. On Wednesday, Janet Yellen will be speaking. Also, the ADP payroll report will come out. On Friday morning, the September jobs report comes out. The unemployment rate for August was 4.4%, which is close to a 16-year low. There’s a good chance we’ll make a new low. Be sure to keep checking the blog for daily updates. I’ll have more market analysis for you in the next issue of CWS Market Review!

– Eddy

Image
Named by CNN/Money as the best buy-and-hold blogger, Eddy Elfenbein is the editor of Crossing Wall Street. His free Buy List has beaten the S&P 500 eight times in the last ten years. This email was sent by Eddy Elfenbein through Crossing Wall Street.

Catalan referendum, Congress grills Twitter, James Bond submarines

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY AND OVER THE WEEKEND

Elon Musk shares his plan to colonize Mars. The SpaceX CEO will be giving a “major” update on Friday to audiences at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia. Analysts think Musk may announce a smaller version of the Interplanetary Transport System, and he also teased that “certain aspects of the new design and its applications will be unexpected.”

Catalans vote for independence. The Catalonia government will press ahead with an independence referendum on Sunday, despite its constitutional illegality. The Spanish government has tried to shut down (paywall) the vote through various means, such as raiding ballot-printing offices, detaining regional government officials, and promising to punish anyone involved in organizing the referendum.

A big EU meeting takes place in Tallinn, Estonia. Leaders of European Union member states—including Theresa May, who was shut out of a shindig in Bratislava last year—will convene to discuss Brexit, Emmanuel Macron’s plan for bolstering European power, along with new taxes on internet giants. Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy will skip the event as he deals with the Catalan referendum at home.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Twitter was grilled about Russia propaganda. The social network told US lawmakers that it identified at least 200 Russia-linked accounts that also bought political ads on Facebook. Senator Mark Warner said it was “deeply disappointing” that Twitter did not seek out fake news stories on its own.

The UN ramped up pressure on Myanmar. The US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called on countries to suspend military assistance to Myanmar until its government takes action to address the Rohingya crisis. She called Myanmar’s actions against the Muslim minority a “brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority.”

South Korea banned initial coin offerings. The country’s financial regulator became the latest government after China to ban fundraising through ICOs, amid fears of a surge of speculative capital flowing into cryptocurrencies, raising the risk of financial scams.

Two conveyor-belt-sushi giants will merge. Japan’s biggest conveyor-belt-sushi chain, Akindo Sushiro, and the fifth-biggest, Genki Sushi, will combine to form a company with 30% of the Japanese market, according to Japanese media (paywall). British private-equity firm Permira is an investor in Akindo Sushiro, and will cash out of its shares in the company.

Jon Huntsman was confirmed as US ambassador to Russia.The senate confirmed the former Utah governor and ambassador to China as the country’s envoy in Moscow. Huntsman had previously said that there was “no question” that Russia meddled in last year’s US presidential election.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Mike Murphy on a startup building eyes for robot cars. “No fully autonomous systems have yet proven themselves consistently in the vast majority of normal driving situations, and some semi-autonomous systems have been partly connected to deaths when they couldn’t fully understand what was ahead of them on the road. The self-driving cars of tomorrow will need to be able to perceive the world with about as much information and as easily as we do or they’re not likely to revolutionize how we get around.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Stocks up, dollar down / The less we know on tax cuts / The better they sound

MATTERS OF DEBATE

The future of transportation may be about sharing batteries, not vehicles. A Taiwanese startup uses swappable battery packs for its scooters.

Hugh Hefner embodied the contradiction at the heart of the American dream. The late Playboy founder championed both equality and the objectification of women.

There are too many H&M stores. With over 4,000 stores worldwide, the company has been left behind in the e-commerce game.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

A Saudi workplace messaging app has gone viral in the US.Teens use Sarahah to send each other anonymous notes (paywall).

Aston Martin designed a futuristic submarine. The sports-car-inspired design is fit for James Bond.

You can now see colors that once didn’t exist. Industrialization changed the world’s palette, adding an array of synthetic hues.

China is obsessed with drinking hot water. An ancient tactic to stay warm morphed into a belief that it has beneficial health effects.

Elon Musk’s mother can’t jump the line to get a Tesla. She’s at “around 300,000” on the Model 3 waiting list.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Thermos flasks, and Mars colonization plans tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Google’s EU response, RIP Hugh Hefner, rodents of unusual size

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

The UN security council discusses the Myanmar crisis. United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres will brief member states about the ongoing violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority. More than 430,000 people have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent weeks.

Google meets an EU antitrust deadline. The tech company said that in response to a record €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) fine imposed by the European Commission for anti-competitive behavior in June, it would allow rivals to bid for ads in the shopping box that appears at the top of search queries when consumers indicate interest in buying a product. The EU has to approve Google’s proposal.

Vladimir Putin visits Turkey. The Russian president will meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, mainly to discuss the situation in Syria but also other issues such as defense contracts and the recent Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq. Meanwhile, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson heads to China to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

Investigators present “preliminary results” on the MH17 plane crash. New details could be revealed by the joint investigation team, which is composed of and funded by five nations. The Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down over Ukraine in 2014.

SPONSOR CONTENT BY BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION

Ethiopia successfully reduced child mortality rates by half in eight years. Tackling maternal mortality rates, however, was a lot harder. As Ethiopia’s former health minister tells it, Ethiopia had togrow an army to stay connected to the needs and demands of its mothers.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Mark Zuckerberg responded to Donald Trump. The Facebook CEO hit back at comments by the US president that the social network was “always anti-Trump.” In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg said that both liberals and conservatives have accused Facebook of helping the other side, and that he regretted earlier comments dismissing the impact fake news on Facebook had on the outcome of the presidential election..

Trump announced an ambitious new tax plan. The president’s proposal would effectively reduce taxes for nearly all American individuals and businesses, but was scarce on details about how he plans to do so without worsening the country’s $20 trillion debt.

Hugh Hefner died. The Playboy magazine founder passed away at the age of 91 from “natural causes” in the Playboy Mansion where he lived in Los Angeles, according to a representative. His son said Hefner was a “a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom.”

Japan dissolved its parliament. Prime minister Shinzo Abedissolved the lower house of the Diet after he called a snap general election for Oct. 22. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party is still likely to win a majority based on the latest polls, but his biggest challenger, a new party formed by popular Tokyo mayor Yuriko Koike, is hoping to close the gap in the next few weeks.

Otto Warmbier’s death remained a mystery. A coroner in Ohio said the American student, who was detained in North Korea until June when he returned home and died six days later, died from a lack of oxygen and blood to his brain but the causes were unclear. Warmbier’s parents said in a TV interview this week that their son had been “tortured beyond belief” in North Korea.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Amy X. Wang and Allison Schrager on the end of the university. “Rapid-fire innovation out of Silicon Valley has allowed students to chat over an array of messaging apps from their dorm-room beds and work at lightning-fast speed across digital platforms. The same radical disruptions are taking place, simultaneously, in other spaces on campuses: Ancient classrooms and musty hallways are no longer a requirement for university education, as they have been for the last several centuries.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Tax plan getting love / How will investors feel when / Lucy yanks the ball?

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Learning a local dialect is better than a global language.Technology makes it easier to communicate, but if the less-spoken languages die, traditions die with them.

As real life gets scarier, disaster movies are obsolete.Filmmakers should stick to dystopian scenarios and superheroes who save us.

Germans are happy because their values are the opposite of Silicon Valley’s. A good work-life balance in Germany doesn’t involve unlimited massages and free meals on the corporate campus to encourage 90-hour weeks.

QUARTZ ANNOUNCEMENT

Are you planning to buy an iPhone anytime soon? We’d love to hear why or why not in this quick three-minute survey. Thanks!

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Coca-Cola uses AI to invent new sodas like Cherry Sprite. Ahigh-tech vending machine prompts the soda giant to create new drinks.

Researchers discovered a giant coconut-eating rat. The rodent of unusual size lives in the shrinking forests of the Solomon Islands.

Bad weather alters your mood. Researchers analyzed 3.5 billion tweets and Facebook posts to make sure.

A Silicon Valley CEO erased his company’s gender pay gap out of his own pocket. Salesforce’s Marc Benioff wrote a $3 million check—twice.

Legalized marijuana is a boon to McDonald’s and Taco Bell. A study found an uptick in munchie consumption for dispensary customers.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, cherry-free soft drinks, and munchies to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or downloadour apps for iPhone and Android.

#Uber’s UK defense, longer tweets, #Eminem investment

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Thailand issues a verdict on a former prime minister. Yingluck Shinawatra, deposed in a 2014 military coup, fled the country last month as she was due to stand trial for negligence while in office over a wasteful rice subsidy scheme. She faces up to 10 years in prison and is rumored to be in Dubai with her exiled brother, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Uber defends its independent-contractor business model in the UK. The company will appear before the employment appeal tribunal, which is determining whether its drivers should be classified as employees or self-employed workers. Last week, London’s transport regulator stripped Uber of its operating license.

US Republicans unveil their long-awaited tax plan. The GOP, still smarting from the demise of its last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare, will propose major tax cuts for large and small businesses. It’s not clear whether it will seek to reduce the top individual tax rate of 39.6%.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Trump’s pick lost in the Republican primary for a Senate seat in Alabama. Roy Moore, a firebrand populist and former judge,defeated Luther Strange (paywall) in the race to fill the seat vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. Moore is also deeply conservative, but Strange’s defeat suggests that deep-red Republicans won’t necessarily always follow Trump’s lead—the president later deleted tweets where he showed support for Strange.

Twitter doubled its character limit. The social-media platform said it would expand the number of characters allowed in a tweet from 140 to 280—a decision that some users think defeats the purpose of Twitter. Users who tweet in Asian languages like Japanese and Chinese, however, said they have long been accustomed to being able to fit a lot of information into a 140-character tweet.

The US slapped huge duties on Canada’s Bombardier. The commerce department imposed a preliminary 219.63% import tariff on Bombardier’s new commercial jets, after Boeing complained that the company was able to sell its planes in the US at an unfairly low price due to government subsidies. The penalty will only take effect if the US International Trade Commission also rules in Boeing’s favor in a final decision expected next year.

The female challenger to Shinzo Abe said she wants to “reset” Japan. Tokyo mayor Yuriko Koike, who earlier announced theformation of the Party of Hope to contest next month’s snap general election, laid out her party’s vision and strategy for the first time. Koike said her party will operate free of the interests of the political establishment, and that the country would maintain its pacifist principles, which are enshrined in its constitution.

The FBI busted a college-basketball corruption scheme. The US filed criminal charges against a number of high-profile coaches, managers, and representatives for sneaker giant Adidas. Among those charged were current and former coaching staff members at Oklahoma State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Southern California, and the University of South Carolina.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Lily Kuo on China’s vision of itself as the world’s peacekeeper, which starts in Africa. “It also appeals to a growing sense of nationalism in China’s military might and influence around the world. Chinese media this week released footage of live-fire shooting drills at China’s first overseas base in Djibouti… China’s top grossing film of all time, Wolf Warrior II, released last month, reflects some of that sentiment. In the movie, a Chinese special ops soldier single-handedly saves locals and Chinese expatriates in an unspecified African country in the throes of conflict.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Chipotle burger / with a Top Chef at the helm: / Bad news for Shake Shack

MATTERS OF DEBATE

The Saudi king’s decree allowing women to drive is really about money. The country’s repressive culture is a barrier to its efforts to modernize and diversify its economy away from oil.

The racial wealth divide in the US is worse than people think—and it’s growing. The median black family, who today only owns $1,700 in wealth excluding their car, will reach zero wealth by 2053.

Hollywood created its own worst enemy in Rotten Tomatoes. It encouraged the film-review aggregator, until critics started turning against would-be blockbusters.

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SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Researchers have been terrifying guppies for science. Regular doses of fear were used to determine (paywall) whether the fish have individual personalities. (They do, sort of.)

Belgium, the Mexico-US border wall, and sleeping gas have something in common. They’re all things that Trump has called “beautiful.

Tinder keeps hundreds and hundreds of pages of data about you. “Our matching tools are dynamic and consider various factors… in order to personalise the experience for each of our users,” the company explained.

North Koreans also need help understanding Trump. They’ve reached out to Republican analysts for assistance (paywall).

You can invest in Eminem’s future royalties. A new startup is going public to monetize his back catalog, but without Slim Shady’s consent.

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

#Boeing vs. #Bombardier, #Kushner’s emails, #Yoda cameos

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Theresa May talks Brexit with Donald Tusk. The UK prime minister will convene with the European Council president in London ahead of a meeting with the bloc’s 27 other leaders later this week. Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron lays out his visionfor the EU’s future.

The US commerce department rules on Boeing vs Bombardier.Boeing claims that thanks to Canadian government subsidies, Montreal-based airplane maker Bombardier was able to sell its C-Series aircraft at unfairly low prices. A ruling in favor of Boeing could result in duties on Bombardier, making its planes more expensive—JetBlue has urged the US to rule against Boeing.

Donald Trump hosts Spain’s prime minister. Mariano Rajoy will meet the US president in Washington for the first time. Issues such as terrorism and NATO are key on the agenda—but Rajoy’s visit is overshadowed by events at home as Catalonia plans to hold an independence referendum this weekend.

Janet Yellen delivers a speech. The US Federal Reserve chair will give a speech on “Inflation, Uncertainty, and Monetary Policy” in Cleveland, Ohio. Investors are looking for clues on whether Fed officials think inflationary pressures are strong enough for another rate increase this year.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

More NFL teams defied Trump. The row over football players kneeling before the US national anthem continued, as players from the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals locked arms with teammates before a game in Arizona in response to Trump’s comments over the weekend. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, a Trump supporter, kneeled with the team before the anthem but not during.

US House of Representatives members opened an investigation into Jared Kushner. Republican Trey Gowdy and Democrat Elijah Cummings asked for more information on the email use of Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, after reports surfaced that Kushner and other members of the administration had been using private emails for official correspondence.

Kurds celebrated an independence referendum in Iraq. Turnout for the peaceful vote, which took place on Monday, is expected to be over 70% and a “yes” verdict is highly likely. Regional officials staunchly cautioned against the potentially destabilizing effects of the vote, with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning that he could cut off the Kurds’ oil export pipeline.

The ADB lifted its growth forecast for Asia. The Manila-based Asian Development Bank said it predicts the continent will grow 5.9% in 2017, up from an earlier forecast of 5.7%, citing an improvement in global trade conditions. It also upgraded its growth forecast for China for this year to 6.7% from 6.5% previously.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Katherine Foley on the scientists who finally figured out how to build a better microwave. “The microwave was invented in 1947 and soon became an American household staple. The devices sped up the heating and reheating process in the kitchen, and flew off store shelves and onto countertops by the millions in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. But in recent years, sales have started to stagnate and decline. In part, that’s because the convenience they offer comes with the cost of uneven cooking.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

Markets kicking their / tech-stock addiction. Result? / Wall Street gets deFANGed

MATTERS OF DEBATE

The US national anthem shouldn’t be played before sporting events. America might do better at national healing if it did not thrust overt patriotism into people’s faces.

Engineers in India are unfit for high-level programming jobs.Coding education in India is still overwhelmingly focused on legacy languages like C, C++, Java, and Visual Basic.

Trump can’t win a fight against the NFL. African-Americans make up nearly 70% of NFL players—without their allegiance, the NFL’s business model would collapse.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Earth’s last snowstorm may be red. Winter-packed algae rises to the surface of snow, adding a red tint and causing it to melt faster.

A Saudi Arabian history book ran a photo of Yoda next to a former king. The Saudi education department is the culprits trying to find.

Walmart wants to put your groceries in the fridge for you. The company is testing a service that would give delivery workerstemporary access to customers’ kitchens (paywall).

You can now pay $350 to control your phone with a jean jacket. We wanted flying cars; instead, we got a wearable technology product from Google and Levis.

No one knows why Chad was included in Trump’s latest travel ban. “It makes no sense whatsoever. In fact I wonder if there wasn’t some sort of mistake made,” said a former US ambassador in the region.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, musical jackets, and red snow to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Kurdish referendum, #Merkel’s difficult victory, potato power

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Japan’s prime minister will call an election. Shinzo Abe is expected to announce an election for Oct. 22, to take advantage of the opposition’s dysfunction and recovering approval ratings for his government amid tensions with North Korea. Fearing an excessive concentration of power in Abe’s hands, however, a majority of Japanese said in a poll they were opposed to Abe calling a snap election.

James Mattis visits India. The US defense secretary will meet with his counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman, in New Delhi. It’s the first visit to the country by a high-ranking official since US president Donald Trump took office. Afghanistan’s security is among issues on the table.

Iraqi Kurds hold an independence referendum. Kurdish president Masoud Barzani is pressing on with the vote, despite pressure from Baghdad, regional and Western powers, as well as the United Nations. Kurds make up about 15% to 20% of Iraq’s population.

OVER THE WEEKEND

Angela Merkel cruised to a fourth term as German chancellor.However, Alternative für Deutschland became the third-biggest party, putting a far-right party in the Bundestag for the first time since World War II. Merkel said she had hoped for a “better result.”

Donald Trump extended his travel ban to more countries. TheUS president added North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela to the list, and dropped Sudan. The ban on citizens from Venezuela entering the US applies only to government officials and their families.

NFL players brawled with Trump. Football players locked arms in opposition to Trump’s suggestion that they be fired by National Football League team owners for kneeling during the national anthem—a practice that began last year when quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled to bring attention to police violence against black Americans. The president later backed off, saying locking arms is good and kneeling is bad.

There was no clear winner in New Zealand’s election. Both the ruling National party and Labour, the second-biggest party, failed to win enough votes to form a majority government, leaving populist politician Winston Peters from the New Zealand First party as kingmaker in the new coalition.

The US flew bombers off North Korea’s coast. In a “show of force,” the B-1 bombers and F-15 jets traveled the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone that any US aircraft had in the 21st century.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Mike Murphy on whether Apple has peaked. “The most impressive thing the company has shown off in 2017, the year that was supposed to be its most impressive in a decade, was a $5 billion campus. Much like everything else the company released this year, the campus seemed to favor form over functionality.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

NFL owners could fire players for public protests. Some legal experts say it’s possible based on the grounds that the behavior was disrespectful, just as Google was able to fire James Damore for suggesting women aren’t made for tech.

Breaking up Uber’s monopoly will hurt more than help. The ride-sharing app has broken rules to grow its market share in London, but it has given its customers extraordinary value (paywall).

Cosmopolitan’s Helen Gurley Brown taught women to prize skinniness above all else. The magazine’s former editor-in-chiefcelebrated never eating enough, artificial sweeteners, and weight-loss drugs.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

If forced to survive on a single food, choose potatoes. Spuds contain all the amino acids essential to the body—if you combine them with sweet potatoes, you can get needed vitamins too.

People in China paid $15 to ask a 65-year-old sexologist questions. Li Yinhe, known for her writings about BDSM, also charged one yuan on social network Weibo for people to read her answers.

The idea for lab-grown meat was born in a prisoner-of-war camp. Hampton Creek acquired some of its patents from a captured WWII soldier, who after his release enrolled in medical school and contemplated growing food from cells.

Plastic is nowhere near going away. Its production grew 20-fold in the last 50 years, and is expected to double again in the next 20.

Disney’s Queen of Katwe is an inspiration to Ugandan teens.Students who watched the biopic about a girl from the slums of Kampala turned world chess champion performed better on national exams.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lab-grown meat, and questions about sex to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.