North Korea threatens Guam, #Disney snubs #Netflix, gecko beer lawsuit

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Japan Display announces turnaround plans. The smartphone screen manufacturer is expected to slash over 3,500 jobs and seek an outside investor to help finance its overhaul. The joint venture by Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi has struggled, even after a $677 million injection from a state-backed investor last year.

India’s scientists take to the streets. Inspired by April’s global “March for Science,” scientists will demonstrate in over 30 cities across India. Protesters hope to draw attention to funding shortages, as well the “rising wave of unscientific beliefs and religious bigotry” in India.

Belgium’s parliament holds an emergency egg meeting.Parliament will convene to discuss food safety after a poisonous insecticide forced an egg recall. A similar panic in 1999 caused a major political crisis (paywall).

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

North Korea has produced an ICBM-ready nuclear warhead…US analysts say Pyongyang has the technology to sufficiently miniaturize its weapon (paywall)—a key threshold to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. US president Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues its nuclear threats.

… And is now threatening to strike Guam. Pyongyang said it’sconsidering missile strikes on the US territory in the Pacific in response to Trump’s threats against North Korea. Guam is home to a number of US bases and thousands of US military personnel.

Kenya’s incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta is ahead in vote counting. With 80% of ballots counted, Kenyatta has 55% of the vote compared to 44% for opponent Ralia Odinga. Odinga is disputing the results as “fictitious,” as the electoral commission urges Kenyans to exercise restraint and patience for fear of a repeat of the violence that marred the 2007 general election.

An earthquake in southwestern China killed at least 13 people.Chinese state media said a 7.0-magnitude quake struck the scenic tourist hotspot of Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan province. Another quakestruck the western Xinjiang autonomous region on Wednesday morning, with no casualties reported yet.

Disney will ditch Netflix and launch its own streaming services.The entertainment giant’s move to end its exclusive streaming dealwhen the current contract expires in 2019 sent Netflix shares down by more than 6%. Disney plans to launch a series of streaming services, including an ESPN sports offering in 2018.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Cassie Werber on the people in rich countries who are dying of loneliness. “Such ‘epidemics,’ while not confined to rich countries, are linked to prominent features of affluent culture: longer life expectancy, decreasing marriage rates, people having fewer children, more people getting divorced, and more people living alone.” Read more here.

MARKETS HAIKU

“Fire and fury” / Sell HBO subscriptions / But stocks? Not so much.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Biological determinism can’t explain tech’s gender gap. It’s an argument that is always used to justify social hierarchies.

Marriage is increasingly the province of college-educated women. Social shifts have made “high-investment parenting” a more attractive prospect.

US CEOs have China Stockholm syndrome. They’re cooperating with Beijing (paywall) even while being forced to give up technology in return for market access.

QUARTZ ANNOUNCEMENT

AI companies are hiring Pixar engineers to build cuter robots.As science fiction tips into fact, the image problem perpetuated by the likes of Terminator and Westworld has become a hindrance for the consumer robotics industry. Are you wooed by these more likable robots?

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Boeing and NASA are copying geese to save jet fuel. “Wake surfing” planes could fly in a V formation.

A man is suing Heineken for a gecko-infused beer. He claims to have PTSD after drinking a can with two dead lizards inside.

The man who wrote the book on online passwords says he got it all wrong. Bill Burr wrote the US government guidelines that require special characters and other useless rules (paywall).

There’s a scientifically optimal dunking time for Oreos in milk.An analysis of capillary action suggests that three seconds will almost saturate the cookies.

Autonomous car tests are getting seriously weird. Reporters spotted a self-driving car in Arlington, Virginia that turned out to be a regular car, driven by a human who was disguised as a car seat.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, bad passwords, and Oreos with milk to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or downloadour apps for iPhone and Android.

Bespoke Brunch Reads: 8/6/17

Below is our “Bespoke Brunch Reads” linkfest featuring some of our favorite articles over the past week.

Banking

Banking regulator kicks of Volcker Rule rewrite process by Pete Schroeder (Reuters)

Public comments on a revised rulemaking for the Dodd-Frank Act’s Volcker Rule ban on proprietary trading are back under way. [Link]

How China’s biggest bank became ensnared in a sprawling money laundering probe by Angus Berwick and David Lague (Reuters)

A sprawling read on the long process of busting money laundering organized criminals who funneled billions back to China from illegal imports into Spain. [Link]

Financial Products

Sneak Preview in the Works for Timing of U.S. Libor Alternative by Alex Harris (Bloomberg)

Libor is being replaced, with the bank poll of overnight funding rates being still yet to find a substitute benchmark for the trillions in financial products which reference it. [Link; auto-playing video]

CBOE plans to launch bitcoin futures, announces agreement with Winklevoss brothers’ digital currency exchange by Evelyn Cheng (CNBC)

As crypto-currencies gain prominence, derivatives based on them are coming to the US. Futures will be settled in cash, but it’s still a huge step forward for the space. [Link]

Social Media

Facebook Shuts Down AI System After Bots Create Language Humans Can’t Understand (Gadgets 360)

In a strange development, Facebook recently shut down one of its bot systems because various programs fueled by AI had created a new language to converse in. [Link]

This Is Probably The Only Story You Didn’t Hear About First From Bradd Jaffy And Kyle Griffin by Steven Perlberg and Charlie Warzel (Buzzfeed)

Background on two tweeters who have developed massive followings and some competition to be crowned the king of breaking news. [Link]

FANG

Driving Tesla’s Model 3 Changes Everything by Tom Randall (Bloomberg)

“Glowing” doesn’t quite capture the degree of enthusiasm in this review of the Model 3, which is now entering production; while ~$40k segment of the sedan market it’s targeting is crowded and seeing weak demand, the car sounds incredible to us. [Link; auto-playing video]

Netflix is on the hook for $20 billion. Can it keep spending its way to success? by David Ng (LAT)

With 104mm global subscribers (+25% YoY), demand for Netflix’s service has exploded. But the company has also levered up, creating the possibility that its popularity and content stable won’t be enough to fund debt it’s issued to make shows. [Link]

Sports

The Hungriest Man On Earth by Joon Lee (Bleacher Report)

A sad but ultimately positive story of the heaviest NFL player in the league’s history. [Link]

Escaping Kakuma by Louis Bien (SBNation)

Amidst the tents and shanties of the world’s largest refugee camp in northwest Kenya (which borders both Sudan and Somalia), soccer is an escape and a passion. [Link]

Humor

Millennials Unearth an Amazing Hack to Get Free TV: the Antenna by Ryan Knutson (WSJ)

An amusing survey of the recent trend of 20- and 30-somethings rediscovering the original means of television broadcast: the humble antenna. [Link; paywall]

An Honest Business News Update by Morgan Housel (Collaborative Fund)

Here’s what the news would read like if we were all being perfectly honest about what goes on at the top level in the world of finance and economics. [Link]

Science

Why We Can’t Have the Male Pill by Emily Anthes (Bloomberg)

Inside the long-running and thus far futile effort to develop a male birth control pill. [Link]

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

Good Will Hunting: An Oral History by Janelle Nanos (Boston Magazine)

A fun and informative romp through the making of the classic drama about human capacity, relationships, and community. [Link]

Dating

Austin Luxury High-Rise Tenants Swiped Left On Bumble’s Code-Violating HQ by Joseph Bernstein (Buzzfeed)

It turns out the neighbors get annoyed when you try to run your successful dating start-up out of a luxury apartment complex. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

Bespoke Investment Group, LLC

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Harrison, NY 10528

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Twitter: @bespokeinvest

Weekend edition—The fashionable entrepreneur, #coal’s toll, fortune-cookie math

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Whenever I visit a temple to entrepreneurship, I feel both awed and wary. Take Paris’ Station F, a former train depot overhauled (for at least €250 million) into a campus with space for 1,000 tech startups. Perks include an on-site restaurant, meeting rooms made from old shipping containers, and a “chill” zone. Station F is beautiful, but more important, it’s cool—because right now, entrepreneurship is undeniably fashionable.

It wasn’t always so. Patrick Collison, co-founder of $9.2 billion payment company Stripe, is a child of entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneur is a long, fancy French word, but it didn’t seem like something you aspire to,” he told Bloomberg of his childhood. “It seemed normal, because whatever your parents do seems normal.”

It’s not quite as normal as it used to be. Despite the startup hype, the number of new companies in the US has struggled to reach the levels seen before the last financial crisis. That suggests there’s a mountain of money and support behind new enterprises, but only certain kinds. Technology companies like Alibaba and Amazon can grow rapidly and create entire new economies under their umbrellas. Presumably, these are the kinds of businesses that Station F hopes to attract.

I was also raised by entrepreneurs, but it wasn’t fashionable. There were no high-profile public-private partnerships to nurture my parents’ insurance claims firm, no on-site mentors for advice, and definitely no ping-pong tables. They bought a camera and office supplies from a pawn shop and gave it a try. And it worked—the company survived and created new jobs—but it wasn’t because money was pouring in.

There’s something fundamentally good about entrepreneurship: Starting a business can help people improve their livelihoods, and new ideas can improve standards of living. Entrepreneurship isn’t perfectly fair (some people will always have more advantages than others), but it does provide a crucial avenue of economic mobility. A lot more people are probably thinking about starting a business these days than used to; hopefully those fundamentals remain, even when a new fashion comes along. —John Detrixhe

FIVE THINGS ON QUARTZ WE ESPECIALLY LIKED

Are coal-mining companies keeping their promises? Modern mining techniques have decimated communities in coal states across the US by replacing manpower with machines and polluting local environments. By law, companies are required to return mined mountaintops to a natural state, or develop them into something valuable for locals. David Yanofsky and Akshat Rathi looked atdecades of satellite images to see if that’s actually happening.

A “lovely face,” almost lost to history. Famed cookbook editor Judith Jones died this week. Her legacy included saving Anne Frank’s diary from the rejected manuscripts pile in the 1950s, at the age of 27. Thu-Huong Ha explains how the “lovely face” on the cover of the French edition caught Jones’ eye, and helped the Holocaust account become a bestselling sensation for American readers.

Bitcoin: the sequel. If you thought one bitcoin was confusing, try two: The cryptocurrency “forked” this week, creating an offshoot called bitcoin cash. Within 24 hours, bitcoin cash was worth $7.6 billion, making it the third most valuable cryptocurrency, behind bitcoin (original flavor) and ethereum. Joon Iang Wong breaks downwhat happened and why it matters.

The gene-editing breakthrough that may eradicate disease. This week, researchers published results showing they could edit embryos to fix a fatal mutation. Although the technology is far from clinical use, Akshat Rathi explains how this difficult breakthrough came to be, and why designer babies are still science fiction.

South Koreans are going it alone. In South Korea, groups have long dominated social life, from going out with colleagues after work to hiking en masse. But locals are slowly getting used to doing things solo—eating, drinking, traveling—and industry is catching on. Isabella Steger and Soo Kyung Jung look at how a growing number of businesses cater to those who identify as honjok, or loners.

FIVE THINGS ELSEWHERE THAT MADE US SMARTER

Smartphones are driving us crazy. In an interview with Wired’s Nicholas Thompson, former Google product manager (and nonprofit founder) Tristan Harris argues that technology is better at hijacking our instincts than we are at controlling them. Harris says the attention economy is costing us agency over our minds, and proposes three big solutions.

Dieting has become a dirty word. The wellness and body-positivity movements have changed the way Americans talk about weight: Dieting is out, being “healthy” is in. But the stigma associated with fatness, particularly for women, is still very real. Writing for The New York Times Magazine, Taffy Brodesser-Akner explores how Weight Watchers is adjusting its tactics for a new era, and looks at the mixed messages US culture still gives women on weight.

Life—and soccer—in a refugee camp. At Kakuma in Kenya, home to 180,000 people uprooted by war, one of the most popular ways to avoid the monotony and depression of daily life is soccer, Louis Bien writes at SB Nation. The camp has its own 16-team league, and for many young men there, it’s a crucial escape—for a day, and hopefully for a lifetime.

Are the lucky numbers inside fortune cookies actually lucky?FiveThirtyEight bought a thousand and back-tested them against lottery results: Buying one ticket for every possible combination of numbers would return $4.4 million in winnings, versus $4.2 million in ticket costs. “It would appear that the lucky numbers are legit lucky,” reporter Walt Hickey writes. “Obviously, this is weird as hell.”

The bizarre world of bespoke porn. As the proliferation of amateur, illegal, and pirated pornography takes its toll on traditional studios, there’s a new growth industry: custom films. Producers field specific requests, sometimes comically banal—they include things like a woman swatting flies, or a woman bathing in condiments, and often include no sex at all. Jon Ronson writes in The Guardian about this fascinating new market.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, offshoot cryptocurrencies, and lucky numbers to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day, or download our apps for iPhone andAndroid.

CWS Market Review – August 4, 2017

CWS Market Review

August 4, 2017

“The stock market is a giant distraction to the business of investing.”
– Jack Bogle

This is the final week of second-quarter earnings season for our Buy List. We had six more earnings reports come out this week, plus Cinemark is due out later today.

Overall, this has been a disappointing earnings season for us. We’ve had several good reports, but we’ve also had a few big misses. Fortunately, the damage to our Buy List has been rather mild. That’s because we’re nothing if not well diversified. This is an important lesson. A diversified portfolio helps minimize the dings and bruises to our portfolios.

I should also point out that since we focus on holding high-quality stocks for the long term, the quarterly earnings game isn’t as important for us. For example, in May, HEICO (HEI) came out with an earnings report that looked fine to me. Traders, however held a different opinion, and the shares fell. Then about five weeks later—seemingly out of nowhere—HEICO started to rally. I have no idea why. There was no new news. But the important point is that we were in place to profit from it.

The overall earnings environment is pretty good. Right now, the S&P 500 is tracking 9.2% earnings growth for Q2. Wall Street now expects 11.2% growth for Q3. The S&P 500 is now going for 18 times next year’s earnings. That’s pricey. The average multiple usually runs around 14. Still, I wouldn’t say that we’re recklessly overvalued.

This week, we saw good earnings from Ingredion and Cognizant Technology Solutions. The latter raised guidance. We also had a rare miss from Fiserv, and a lousy report from Axalta. I’ll run down all the details. Let’s start with folks at Ingredion.

Earnings from Ingredion and Fiserv

Ingredion (INGR) led off this week’s earnings parade on Tuesday when they reported Q2 earnings of $1.89 per share. Wall Street had been expecting $1.85 per share. For last year’s Q2, the plant-food folks earned $1.73 per share.

Looking at the details. Ingredion noted that business in North America is quite good, but they’ve had some “headwinds” in South America. I was pleased to see the company reiterate its full-year guidance of $7.50 to $7.80 per share. They’ve already made $3.77 per share for the first half, so that guidance seems very doable.

Here’s where things get dramatic. The shares dropped sharply at the open on Tuesday. (Traders!) But then they rallied back. In fact, by early Thursday, Ingredion’s stock was higher than it was on Monday’s close. In other words, our strategy of doing nothing worked just fine. This week, I’m raising my Buy Below Ingredion to $128 per share.

Also on Tuesday, Fiserv (FISV) reported earnings of $1.19 per share. That was four cents below Wall Street’s estimate. This caught me by surprise because Fiserv rarely misses earnings.

There’s nothing to worry about. Fiserv didn’t give guidance for Q2, but their full-year 2017 guidance is unchanged at $5.03 to $5.17 per share.

Let’s look at some key facts. Earnings for the year are up 14% over last year. Free cash flow is up 26% to $555 million. Fiserv also increased its operating margin by 40 basis points, to 32.3%. Based on its 2017 guidance range, Fiserv sees earnings rising by 14% to 17% this year.

Fiserv has already bought back nearly six million shares this year, and they have authorization to buy another 14.6 million shares. The stock dropped 4% during Tuesday’s trading, but remember that it’s still up 16.6% this year. I’m keeping my Buy Below price for Fiserv at $131 per share.

Four Earnings Reports on Thursday

We had four more earnings reports on Thursday. In the morning, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) reported Q2 earnings of 75 cents per share. That’s an increase of 9% over last year. Although this was one penny below estimates, it was ICE’s 17th straight quarter of revenue growth.

Shares of ICE lost 2.8% on Thursday. Again, I’m not at all worried. ICE should be able to earn about $3 per share this year. Intercontinental Exchange remains a buy up to $66 per share.

Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH) earned 93 cents per share for Q2. That was two cents above the Street’s consensus. Previously, the company said to expect Q2 earnings of at least 89 cents per share. Quarterly revenue rose 8.9% to $3.67 billion. Cognizant had said to expect revenue between $3.63 and $3.68 billion.

Now for the good news. Cognizant raised its sales and earnings guidance for this year. The company expects Q3 earnings of at least 94 cents per share. They also upped their full-year guidance by three cents. They now see 2017 earnings of at least $3.67 per share.

CTSH expects Q3 revenue between $3.73 billion and $3.78 billion, and full-year revenue between $14.70 billion and $14.84 billion. The old range was $14.56 billion to $14.84 billion.

Interestingly, traders got nervous on Wednesday and CTSH took a dip. The solid earnings report apparently assuaged their fears. CTSH gained a little over 2% on Thursday. We’re up nearly 25% in CTSH this year. I’m lifting my Buy Below on Cognizant to $74 per share.

Axalta Coating Systems (AXTA) became our latest earning dud. For Q2, they reported adjusted earnings of 31 cents per share, which was eight cents below the Street’s consensus. Net sales rose 2.3% to $1.09 billion. Part of the reason for the miss was a drop in paint prices, but it was also due to the mess in Venezuela.

The deconsolidation of our Venezuelan operations came as a result of a lack of exchangeability between the Venezuelan bolivar and the U.S. dollar coupled with our financial outlook for the foreseeable future. This lack of exchangeability restricted our Venezuelan subsidiary’s ability to pay dividends or settle intercompany obligations, which limited our ability to realize the benefits of our Venezuelan operations. In accordance with the applicable accounting guidance, we have deconsolidated our Venezuela operations and will account for our investment at cost going forward. Our cost investment is now valued at $0 at June 30, 2017 which has resulted in a pre-tax charge of $70.9 million for the three months ended June 30, 2017. We will no longer report the consolidated results of our Venezuelan operations.

Axalta also updated their guidance figures for 2017. They now see adjusted EBITDA between $940 million and $970 million. The previous range was $930 million to $980 million. Axalta’s expected free cash remains the same at $440 million to $480 million.

AXTA got hammered for a 7.9% loss on Thursday. I’m lowering my Buy Below to $33 per share.

After the closing bell on Thursday, Continental Building Products (CBPX), the wallboard people, said they made 32 cents per share during Q2. That’s a three-cent miss.

Net sales rose 3% to $120.6 million. Product costs have been rising, but Continental hasn’t been able to pass that along to their customers. Last quarter’s profit margin got squeezed a bit as a result. The good news is that CBPX benefited from lower interest costs.

I’m not a big fan of share buybacks, but CPBX has been gobbling up stock at a furious rate. During Q2, they bought back 2.3% of all their outstanding shares.

Update on Wabtec

I neglected to update you on Wabtec (WAB) in last week’s newsletter. My apologies for the oversight.

Last Tuesday, the freight-services company released a disappointing earnings report. For Q2, WAB earned 75 cents per share, but that included a charge of five cents per share due to “net effect of the restructuring and transaction expenses and the interest expense benefit.” Wall Street had been expecting Q2 earnings of 94 cents per share. Not good.

Wabtec had quarterly revenue of $932.3 million, which was also below Wall Street’s estimate of $1 billion. For all of 2017, Wabtec now expects sales of $3.85 billion, and EPS between $3.55 and $3.70. That’s a reduction from their April forecast of $3.95 to $4.15 per share.

This is the fourth time in the last five earnings reports that Wabtec has missed Wall Street’s consensus. So what went wrong? Basically, the environment for their business is pretty bad right now. Wabtec said there was $250 million in sales that they had expected during Q2 that never showed up. It’s important for us to distinguish between what’s bad due to them and what’s bad for everyone in the sector. This is more of a lousy-environment story.

On the positive side, Wabtec said their backlog is up 10%. They also just completed their big merger with Faiveley.

This is Raymond T. Betler, the CEO, on the earnings call:

The main reason for our shortfall in the second quarter and our reduction in full year guidance is that we’ve seen about $250 million of revenues, roughly 5% of our full year total pushed out due mainly to revised timing of sales and projects already in the backlog, and to the market conditions, which we’ve discussed previously rebounding slower than we anticipated.

These factors are more than offsetting the expected ramp up of synergies from the Faiveley integration during the year. Some of the revenue slippage occurred in the second quarter, including projects for signal, design and construction work, locomotive overhauls, which both have — did not materialize, so we removed them from our 2017 forecast.

Also, we are not yet seeing the expected recovery in the freight aftermarket spending, and the OEM freight markets remained sluggish. As a result, we revised our 2017 guidance as follows: Compared to the first 2 quarters of the year, we expect some modest improvement in our third quarter results due to seasonality, with the strong fourth quarter and an adjusted operating margin target in the fourth quarter of about 15%. With more of our revenues coming from Europe, the seasonality in the third quarter will be more of a factor than it’s been in the past.

The shares dropped nearly 10% last Tuesday, plus another 6% the following Wednesday. The shares are now going for 20 to 21 times this year’s guidance range. That’s a rich valuation, but it may be quite reasonable based on an expected pickup in 2018.

I don’t like these numbers, but I’m willing to give WAB more time to show us some improvement. For now, I’m lowering my Buy Below price on Wabtec to $81 per share.

That’s all for now. Next week will be a fairly quiet week for economic news. We’ll get the productivity and costs report on Wednesday. Real output is basically where it was 10 years ago. On Thursday, we’ll get an update on the Treasury budget. Then on Friday, the latest inflation numbers come out. Janet Yellen has said the Fed expects inflation to gradually tick higher, but there’s been no evidence for that yet. 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.
2223 Ontario Road NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA

Uber’s Singapore scandal, Toyota earnings, US potato cartel

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY AND OVER THE WEEKEND

Toyota’s first-quarter earnings. The carmaker is expected to report a 15% decline in operating profit due to a surge in R&D costs. Japan’s most profitable company will announce as early as today it’s taking a roughly 5% stake in Mazda to jointly establish a US factory and develop electric vehicle technology.

Rwanda goes to the polls. President Paul Kagame, seeking his third term, is expected to receive more than 90% of the vote after a change to the country’s constitution waived a two-term limit. Amnesty International has warned of a “climate of fear” in Rwanda under Kagame’s authoritarian rule.

The US releases economic data. Economists expect July’s employment report to add 183,000 jobs, with unemployment ticking down to 4.3%.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Uber leased defective vehicles to drivers in Singapore. The ride-sharing giant was aware that the Honda SUVs had been recalled, according to internal emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal. One caught fire with a 61-year-old driver inside (paywall).

Rodrigo Duterte signed a law to provide free tuition in state universities and colleges. The Philippines president made the move despite objections from his economic advisors, who said the costs could reach $2 billion a year. Duterte argued the long-term benefits of education outweighed the “very heavy budgetary implications.”

The US impaneled a grand jury in the Russia investigation.Special counselor Robert Mueller will be able to subpoena documents, call witnesses, and seek indictments (paywall) in his probe of Moscow’s interference in the US presidential election. Congress is also considering a bill that would make it harder for Donald Trump to end Mueller’s investigation, which he has called a “witch hunt.”

Air France expanded the no-fly zone around North Korea. Last week a North Korean missile fell just 100 km (62 miles) from the path of an Air France flight carrying more than 320 people. Flights heading to Tokyo or Osaka will take up to 30 minutes longer.

A fire erupted on a residential skyscraper in Dubai. Fast-moving flames consumed dozens of floors on one side of the Torch Tower. No injuries were reported. The fire resembled a 2015 one at the same structure involving flammable panels. Such claddingcontributed to a deadly tragedy in June when a fire engulfed London’s Grenfell Tower.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Isabella Steger and Soo Kyung Jung on the South Koreans gingerly embracing the “YOLO” lifestyle: “Korean youth experience the same bleak feelings about their futures as people in other countries… But pressure from families and society at large to succeed is particularly grueling in Korea, and young people are starting to push back against these strict conventions in a serious way—by staying single and seeking more ‘me’ time.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Why do women bully each other at work? “Queen bee” behavior is more common when the deck is stacked against women.

Trump-Russia collusion is not off the table. Two former CIA agents say the evidence thus far is highly suspicious (paywall).

Swapping beef for beans could save the planet. It could get the US a long way toward meeting ambitious emissions targets.

QUARTZ ANNOUNCEMENT

The great American road trip will look very different in 10 years. As truck driving becomes automated, the diners, motels, and stops that populate the main routes through middle America will become nothing more than nostalgic relics. Explore this story and humanity’s changing relationship with robots in our latest seriesMachines with Brains.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Cyberheist proceeds are being laundered at the baccarat table. A Chinese duo that stole a cool $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank took their loot to a casino.

A potato cartel jacked up the price of US french fries. A collective of growers used drones and satellites to create “an OPEC of potatoes.”

Apple owns more T-bills than Mexico or the Netherlands. The company’s US Treasury holdings are worth $52.6 billion.

Researchers are using vibrators to determine the sex of turtles. The devices quickly create a visible reaction in males.

A cannabis startup wants to buy an entire California town.American Green, a self-described “seed-to-sale innovator,” thinks it can turn Nipton into a stoner’s paradise.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, baccarat tips, and anti-competitive french fries tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Tesla surprises, Venezuelans protest, royal drinking

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

Venezuela’s opposition protests the country’s new assembly.The demonstration coincides with the inauguration of new legislators, picked in a lopsided election to rewrite the country’s constitution. Two opposition leaders, taken in pre-dawn raids on Monday night, remain in custody.

The Bank of England mulls its next move. The central bank will give an economic forecast and could signal a likely hike in the first quarter of next year, despite the growth-dampening effects of Brexit.

The US reports on factory goods orders. They fell more than expected in May, but economists expect to see a 2.9% increase for June (pdf).

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Tesla results were better than expected. The company posted a net loss of just over $400 million, compared to $293.2 million a year earlier, ahead of analyst projections. Revenue more than doubled to $2.79 billion from $1.27 billion, on higher sales of its Model S and Model X vehicles.

Amazon unveiled the location of its first warehouse in Australia. Its massive new fulfillment center will sit just outside of Melbourne, giving struggling brick-and-mortar retailers Down Under even more to worry about. The company said the operation will create hundreds of new jobs.

Qatar Airways abandoned its plans to invest in American Airlines. The airline scrapped an attempt to buy up to 10% of its rival’s shares in the face of stiff opposition from American’s CEO, who called the overture “puzzling at best and concerning at worst.’’ Qatar Airways said the purchase “no longer meets our objectives.”

Square registered a strong quarter. The payments-processing company started by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reported revenue of $552 million, up 26% from a year ago and beating expectations of $536 million. Initially popular with food trucks and other small businesses wanting to accept credit card payments, Square is now gaining traction with larger companies.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Akshat Rathi on the overblown fears of genetic engineering.“We don’t yet understand the sheer number of genes involved in the creation of traits [such as higher intelligence or greater strength]… even if you think it’s an ethical hazard to use Crispr to provide advantageous mutations, there’s no reason to worry right now; those ‘designer babies’ are decades away.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Mastery beats creativity every time. To solve problems with the best of them, we need to work on becoming not just artists, but experts.

Trump wouldn’t need a trade war if he’d stayed in the TPP. The trade deal would’ve forced China to crack down on IP violations and moderate its tariffs.

Venezuela’s economic crisis is unprecedented. It dwarfs anything in US, Western European, or Latin American history.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

Nature is reclaiming Fukushima. Six years after the nuclear reactor disaster, a photographer found a sea of green.

Switzerland has $750 billion burning a hole in its pockets. The country isn’t sure where it should invest its massive foreign reserves(paywall).

Climate change may be causing Indian suicides. A new study argues that nearly 60,000 farmers took their own lives because of environmental degradation.

Queen Elizabeth II has an impressive cocktail schedule. The 91-year-old British monarch consumes four cocktails a day—three of them before 1pm.

A Japanese chef accidentally created melt-proof popsicles.“Kanazawa Ice” uses strawberry extract to remain solid, even at 28℃ (80℉).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, designer babies, and heat-resistant ice cream tohi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.

#Apple’s big numbers, #US missile test, ancient fidget spinners

Good morning, Quartz readers!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY

The US tests an ICBM. The unarmed test of a Minuteman 3 from California follows North Korea launching an intercontinental ballistic missile—from a surprise location near its border with China—that experts believe could reach much of the United States.

ASEAN’s meeting of foreign ministers kicks off in the Philippines. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is celebrating the regional bloc’s 50th anniversary with a week of meetings in Manila. Some 13,000 police were deployed ahead of president Rodrigo Duterte’s keynote; US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will also attend.

The Reserve Bank of India eases up. With inflation at a record low, bond markets expect the central bank to cut short-term rates by 25 basis points (0.25%). Investors will be watching to see if the RBI signals an appetite for further cuts.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

Apple’s third-quarter results trounced expectations. The world’s most valuable publicly traded company posted net income of $8.72 billion and revenue of $45.4 billion. It said it’s now sold 1.17 billion iPhones, and dispelled rumors of a delayed launch for its next version. Shares were up 4% in after-hours trading.

The possible next prime minister of Japan came into focus.Foreign minister Fumio Kishida is set to become policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, according to broadcaster NHK, in a cabinet shakeup due to take place tomorrow. Kishida is widely viewed as the man who could eventually replace embattled prime minister Shinzo Abe.

The US Senate confirmed Trump’s new FBI director.Christopher Wray got the nod from Democrats, who hope he can remain independent even if the president attempts to politicize the bureau. Wray has defended the Russia investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller, whom many have speculated Trump would like to fire.

Venezuela voting data came under scrutiny. Authorities said over 8 million people had voted in a controversial Constitutional Assembly election on Sunday, but a review of the data by Reuters suggested only 3.7 million had. The legislative super-body gives dictatorial power to president Nicolas Maduro, whom the US sanctioned on Monday.

QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE

Ali Griswold on why Uber should give up on world domination.“Uber could exhaust its remaining $7.2 billion in cash on hand in just over 10 quarters, or two and a half years. It’s time for Uber to swallow its pride and face a hard truth: Instead of attempting to conquer the world, it should be cutting deals with competitors and making a graceful retreat in markets too tough to dominate.” Read more here.

MATTERS OF DEBATE

Privacy settings are a feminist issue. Forcing users to “opt out” of compromising app settings lets tech companies off the hook.

Fears about AI are largely misinformed. Facebook didn’t kill its language-creating AI because it was too smart—quite the opposite.

The Tesla Model 3 isn’t truly progress. It belongs in the category of “defense innovations” designed to maintain the status quo.

QUARTZ ANNOUNCEMENT

The quest to make robots squishy. One man’s work to make robot bodies as malleable as human ones could be the key to integrating artificial intelligence into everyday human life. While you’re there, explore the rest of Machines with Brains, our latest special series documenting the current state of the human-machine relationship.

SURPRISING DISCOVERIES

A dozen inmates broke out of an Alabama jail using peanut butter. They hoodwinked a rookie guard into believing that an exit was actually a prisoner’s cell (paywall).

A Mesopotamian fidget spinner is actually a weapon. The artifact from the Isin-Larsa Period was initially classified as a toy made of baked clay.

Jellyfish could be the best crunchy snack ever. Danish scientists have a new technique to transform their gooey insides into a chip.

American bee sperm has lost its buzz. Since the US closed its borders to live honeybee imports, inbreeding has ravaged the gene pool.

The US is turning a Russian airline’s planes into the next Air Force One. Two 747s owned by the bankrupt Transaero are currently parked in the Mojave desert.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, jellyfish chips, and surplus 747s to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.