Quartz Daily Brief—Deadly Gaza day, US vs Ukrainian rebels, China fast-food scandal, fist bumps ascendant

Quartz - qz.com

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The Security Council decides on Gaza after meeting for an emergency session on Sunday night to consider a Jordan-drafted resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and Israeli withdrawal. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will also meet with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo.

Netflix reports a happy quarter. The US streaming video company is expected to report a jump in profits and subscribers. Other earnings reports are due from Chipotle, Halliburton, and Hasbro.

Detroit could settle its bankruptcy. The city will announce whether its creditors have voted to approve its restructuring plan. A “yes” vote could bring in an additional $816 million in pension funding from the state of Michigan, foundations, and the Detroit Institute of Arts

An anti-piracy conference kicks off in Lagos. The fourth annual “Combating Piracy: West African Maritime Security” looks at how to protect ships in the Gulf of Guinea, which is now seen as a bigger piracy trouble spot than Somalia.

US airline “security fees” increase. Passengers will now pay $5.60 per flight, including connecting flights more than four hours long. Congress approved the hike to ease the US budget deficit by an estimated $16.9 billion.

Over the weekend

Gaza had its deadliest day since the current conflict began. Eighty-seven people were killed near Gaza City, according to local health authorities, in what Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called a “massacre.” Israel said it lost 13 soldiers.

The US laid out its case against Ukrainian rebels. John Kerry appeared on all five major US Sunday talk shows to argue that Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was downed by pro-Russia separatists, as the bodies of up to 196 people from the crash site were loaded onto refrigerated train cars by rebel forces.

A new fast-food safety scandal in China. The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration suspended a Chinese supplier for selling out-of-date meat to McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut. This isn’t the first safety scandal that the brands have suffered in China.

Britain’s property prices took a breather. Month-over-month asking prices fell 0.8% in July, but were still up 6.5% versus the year-ago period, according to data from property website Rightmove.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky proceeds may fund his Time Warner quest. 21st Century Fox’s sale of its Italian and German pay-TV networks may generate €10 billion ($13.5 billion) that could be used in Murdoch’s bid for the US media giant.

“NSA in da house” appeared on the US embassy in Berlin. German artist Oliver Bienkowski projected an image of Barack Obama in a backwards baseball cap onto the building. It lasted five minutes before police stopped the protest art show.

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Quartz obsession interlude

Roya Wolverson on how American airlines are the world’s most profitable and least comfortable. “The poor American performance should be no surprise to the airlines themselves. There’s been a deliberate effort in recent years, especially by American carriers, to make life on an airplane as miserable as possible.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t bother with Kindle Unlimited. There are 600,000 books available, but Amazon hasn’t offered the best ones.

Society’s obsession with spontaneity needs to end. The “fear of missing out” leads to unhappiness.

We should only work three days a week. “We would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” says uber-billionaire Carlos Slim.

The fist bump is the new high-five. And it’s spreading around the world.

Using vague language signals power. Quick tip: de-emphasize verbs.

Surprising discoveries

Thought experiments can be dangerous. Speculation about an evil artificial intelligence has some futurists freaked out.

Space beer might be delicious. A brewery flew yeast out of our atmosphere, but unfortunately lost it on the way back.

Cat feces could be prevent cancer. Researchers are developing a vaccine from a feline parasite.

Some bacteria feed on raw electricity. They scavenge free electrons from rocks and sand.

The Pirate Bay’s traffic has doubled since 2011. The illicit file-sharing site is thriving despite its founders being jailed.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, space beer, and non-dangerous though experiments to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—Syria briefing, South Africa strikes, Vodafone-Verizon seal the deal, alcoholic sandwiches

Quartz - qz.com

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The White House lays the groundwork for an attack on Syria. US secretary of state John Kerry and defense secretary Chuck Hagel will testify before the Senate foreign relations committee, as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to garner congressional support for military intervention. Meanwhile UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon will brief the 10 non-permanent members of the security council on what weapons inspectors found in Syria.

South Africa’s gold miners go on strike. The National Union of Mineworkers, which represents about two-thirds of more than 120,000 unionized gold miners, is demanding wage hikes of up to 60%. Just last year a series of strikes at a platinum mine ended with the deaths of over 50 people.

US factories sputter. Weakness in domestic activity may have pulled down the ISM manufacturing index to 54 in August. That’s down from a two-year high in July, though still healthy (anything above 50 signals expansion). Construction spending is expected to have picked up in July.

Australia’s central bank in wait-and-watch mode. The bank is expected to leave its benchmark cash rate unchanged at a record low of 2.5%. Economists expect it to wait until after a general election on September 7 before making any new policy moves.

While you were sleeping

Microsoft bought most of Nokia. Microsoft is paying 5.4 billion euros ($7.2 billion) to buy “substantially all” of Nokia’s devices and services units, including access to the struggling Finnish company’s patents. The deal will affect 32,000 Nokia workers, and be funded by Microsoft’s overseas cash reserves.

Vodafone and Verizon finally sealed the deal. After years of on-and-off negotiations, Verizon will buy out Vodafone’s 45% stake in its US wireless business for a total of $130 billion in cash, stock and other transactions. The UK firm will return 71% of the proceeds, or $84 billion, to shareholders, and use $20 billion to pay down debt. It will also cleverly avoid taxes on its windfall.

The US reportedly spied on the presidents of Brazil and Mexico. The National Security Agency tapped emails, phone calls and text messages of Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto, according to Brazilian TV station Globo, citing documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Data from China and Australia. Non-manufacturing activity slowed in China in August, according to the official index, down to 53.9, from 54.1. A result above 50 indicates expansion, and a higher number shows faster growth. In Australia, July’s retail sales grew less than predicted at 0.1%.

China sacked a senior official for graft. Jiang Jiemin was removed from his position as the head of China’s state assets regulator, according to state media, two days after it was announced that he was being investigated for corruption. China’s ongoing spate of corruption probes appears to have caused a scramble among foreign companies to hire lawyers and ensure they are complying with the law.

Quartz obsession interlude

Roberto A. Ferdman on how Brazil’s former richest man, Eike Batista, lost 97% of his fortune in less than two years. “Most of that is due to the struggles of OGX, the biggest of Batista’s companies. In July the company announced its plans to shutter two of its most productive wells. Last week, a run of more bad news caused the stock to lose 63% of its market value, including a whopping 40% drop on Friday alone. And its financial woes are threatening its very existence. This past June, OGX reported nearly $5 billion in debt and a net loss of over $2 billion during the second quarter. If the company defaults on its heaping pile of debt, it would mark the largest such default in Latin American history, according to Forbes.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

France is run for the benefit of the old. The ‘ancien regime’ social model is a scam for the baby boomers to cling to advantages (paywall).

The common ground for Obama and Putin is offshore taxes. They’ll spend the G20 trying to avoid each other but should be talking about tax avoidance.

Not every child can be a star. Giving children rewards just for participating lowers intrinsic motivation levels.

It’s foolish to fight currency speculators. India’s proposal for emerging nations to jointly intervene in offshore foreign exchange markets is unrealistic.

Surprising discoveries

Dad was the bungee jumper in the family. A British study found young men are less likely than their fathers to do adventurous things like rock climbing because they aren’t as fit and healthy.

US drug agents have access to call records dating back to 1987. The data trove is larger than even the NSA’s, and it’s all thanks to a partnership with AT&T.

The man who smells storms. A 64-year-old with Parkinson’s Disease experiences smelly hallucinations in the lead-up to storms.

The skyscraper that melts cars. A tower under construction in London is reflecting light which melted parts of a Jaguar parked across the street.

The sandwiches that get you drunk. A brewery and chocolatier in Italy have joined hands to invent beer you can spread on your morning toast.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments and alcohol-based sandwich recipes to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

You’re getting the Europe and Africa edition of the Quartz Daily Brief. To change your region, click here. We’d also love it if you shared this email with your friends. They can sign up for free here.