Quartz Daily Brief—Hong Kong’s eerie quiet, #Euro #inflation, #China clears #iPhone, curry brain food

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Greece remains on the hook. The country will meet with international creditors to discuss the terms of its public debt. Greece bond yields are on the rise after the government suggested that it may stop taking aid from the International Monetary Fund and avoid painful financial reforms.

Euro zone inflation numbers are due. The European Central Bank target rate is about 2% but analysts expect only 0.3%, which means that ECB president Mario Draghi may have to take even more drastic measures to spur growth.

Afghanistan lets the Americans stay just a little bit longer. Newly sworn president Ashraf Ghani will sign a deal allowing about 10,000 US troops to remain into 2015. On this, at least, Ghani and his bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah agree.

Out with the new Windows, in with the old. Microsoft unveils a new version of its operating system, codenamed Threshold. It rolls back many of the disliked changes of the previous version, which the world largely rejected, and aims to be more enterprise-friendly.

Will Walgreens bounce back in the fourth quarter? The US pharmacy giant missed earnings expectations in the third quarter after Obamacare and other external factors weighed on its profit margins. Investors will be looking to see if those problems have been dealt with.

While you were sleeping

Apple finally got the nod to sell its iPhone 6 in China. Regulators approved the new smartphones for sale after mysteriously withholding a crucial license for several weeks. But if the price of gray-market iPhones is anything to go by, demand is not exactly sky-high.

Hong Kong’s streets are eerily quiet. Pro-democracy protests have turned the center of the city into a car-free zone, without any significant confrontations between demonstrators and police overnight. The size of the crowd is smaller this morning, but is expected to swell again in the evening, ahead of tomorrow’s National Day holiday celebrating the founding of China. Follow the action here.

Turkey deployed tanks to counter the Islamic State. Shells fired by the extremist group landed inside Turkey, killing two soldiers and wounding five others. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged that Turkey “can’t stay out” of the US-led campaign against IS.

Manufacturing in China stagnated. The HSBC / Markit purchasing managers’ index, which measures small- and medium-sized businesses, was flat at 50.2 in September, just barely above the the 50 point that divides expansion from contraction. The government has made various attempts, largely unsuccessfully, to jump-start the economy.

The SoftBank-DreamWorks Animation deal might not happen after all. Talks between the Japanese mobile carrier and Hollywood studio have “cooled,” according to The Wall Street Journal (paywall), sending the latter’s stock down as much 8% in after-hours trading. Rumors of the deal only began swirling on Saturday.

Argentina got slapped down again. The US judge who ruled against the country in its dispute with foreign bondholders declared it in contempt of court (paywall) for trying to circumvent his ruling. He hasn’t set a punishment yet, though it will probably be small compared with the country’s outstanding debts.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on why China should leave Hong Kong alone. “Since Hong Kong is the global center for yuan trading, it is also a portal through which huge sums of liquidity flow, through both real and fake trade financing. China’s leaders don’t seem to actually understand how dependent their country’s financial system is on these ever-rising tides of liquidity coming in via Hong Kong. And they may not realize how easily a liquidity crisis could occur if, God forbid, they do decide to call in the tanks.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US needs marijuana bars. They would offer public gathering spaces without the social dangers associated with drinking alcohol.

Farm-t0-table dining is broken. Consumers aren’t asking enough of small growers, says one of the movement’s most respected voices.

Chinese tourists are the best. They love to buy expensive gifts, and it’s expected that 166 million of them will spend $155 billion outside the mainland this year.

It’s Reagan’s fault that the NSA is spying on everyone. He let the government snoop on any US company that has “some relationship” with foreigners.

Hamas = Islamic State = Iran = the Nazis. The world according to Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Surprising discoveries

The White House has had some shocking security breaches. Like the time a soldier landed a stolen helicopter on the lawn.

Kurdish troops are building tanks out of spare parts. They look like something straight out of Mad Max.

There’s a new world record for the marathon. Kenyan Dennis Kimetto’s time of 2:02:57 broke the previous mark by 26 seconds.

Curry might be good for your brain. A chemical in turmeric helped rats produce restorative neural stem cells.

It costs $2 billion a year to send drinking water to the International Space Station. And you thought Evian was expensive.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

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Quartz Daily Brief—Russian sanction pain, Amazon disappoints, Algerie wreckage found, zero-G gecko peril

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Israel faces more Palestinian protests. Anger over the shelling of UN elementary school in Gaza could lead to new protests (paywall) in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Clashes between protesters and security forces began on Thursday night, after at least 15 were killed in the attack.

Signs of pain in Russia? Fitch and Moody’s will update their sovereign debt ratings for Russia, the state oil behemoth Rosneft reports earnings, and the Russian central bank issues an interest-rate decision, all of which could give clues as to whether Western sanctions having an effect.

An Indonesian election challenge. Prabowo Subianto, the former general who narrowly lost Indonesia’s presidential race to Joko Widodo, is expected to submit a court claim (paywall) seeking to overturn the outcome.

High hopes for the UK. The Office for National Statistics releases it second-quarter GDP estimate. Although the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast yesterday, it upgraded the UK’s outlook for the fourth time in nine months.

Shinzo Abe follows in Xi Jinping’s footsteps. Japan’s prime minister embarks on a five-country tour of Latin America and the Caribbean, following on the heels of China’s president as the two Asian powerhouses compete for clout.

While you were sleeping

The US accused Russia of firing on Ukraine. The US State Department said it has evidence that recent artillery fire came from Russian soil, and that Russia plans to deliver heavier and more powerful rocket launchers to Ukrainian rebels.

Amazon disappointed investors. The company’s second-quarter loss was double what analysts expected, and it warned that the third quarter would be much worse. The numbers suggest that Amazon’s price war with Google over cloud computing services is starting to hurt.

Japan’s inflation dipped slightly to 3.3% in June, from 3.4% in May, in unwelcome but unsurprising news for the country’s central bank, which is trying to hit a 2% inflation target.

The wreckage of Air Algerie flight 5017 was found in a village in Mali. The aircraft changed its route to avoid bad weather but the cause of its crash has not been determined; officials say Malian insurgents don’t have weapons that can bring down a cruising airliner.

BNP Paribas got fined again. The French bank is set to pay $80 million for defrauding the US Department of Agriculture. It helped US commodities exporters claim undeserved compensation.

A tie-up in British construction. Balfour Beatty and Carillion, two of the country’s largest building companies, are in talks over a potential £3 billion ($5.1 billion) merger.

Quartz obsession interlude

Adam Epstein on how American cable channels have become an indistinguishable swamp of reality TV. “TLC is not the only one abandoning its roots. Dozens of basic cable networks no longer adhere to any core identity or defined genre of programming. MTV (which stood at one time for “Music Television”) infamously airs very little music programming. Two of the most popular shows on The History Channel (now just called History) are Pawn Stars and Ice Road Truckers. Animal Planet’s most watched program last year was a pseudoscience “mocudrama” on mermaids.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The US should expose Putin’s network of offshore accounts. Europe will hate it at first, but will thank America for it later.

India’s new populist leader could learn from Indonesia’s president-elect. India’s Arvind Kerjiwal is struggling to find his feet.

The FAA shouldn’t have banned flights to Israel. Closing down infrastructure in the face of terrorist threats is self-defeating, says Michael Bloomberg.

China’s top leader has too much power. Xi Jinping’s many roles pose a threat to stability in Asia.

Surprising discoveries

Russia’s zero-G sex geckos are in trouble. A satellite carrying the lizards (five female, one male) to study their reproductive habits is malfunctioning.

A South Korean baseball team has a robot cheering section. The Hanwa Eagles offer robotic surrogates for fans who can’t make the game.

Alibaba sells Jeff Koons knock-offs. Balloon dog sculptures on the Chinese e-commerce site the are only $500; the original sold for $58 million.

Surgeons removed 232 teeth from a teen in India. Think about this the next time you complain about a dentist visit.

Powerful people have a distorted perception of time. Their feelings of control make them think they have more time than they do.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, baseball robots, and space gecko rescue plans to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—GM’s misery, China and Japan manufacturing, Facebook liked, royal horse doping

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

A look at the size of GM’s wounds. The US auto giant announces results from a miserable quarter in which it recalled millions of vehicles and revealed flaws in its corporate culture. Only yesterday it recalled another 718,000 vehicles, bringing the year’s total to some 29 million worldwide.

More fat-free growth from Amazon. Analysts expect the retailer to make a small loss on a 23% increase in revenue, continuing its tradition of favoring growth over profit. It’ll be too early to see the effects of its first smartphone, the Fire Phone, which hits shelves in the US this week, or last week’s release of Kindle Unlimited, but there are high hopes for both.

A euro zone without a German engine? Markit’s purchasing managers’ index will show how member countries are dealing with recent weakness in German manufacturing.

Signs of weakness in South Korea… The central bank is expected to report slower GDP growth in the second quarter, after a 0.9% expansion three months earlier. The government plans to implement stimulus measures to boost public spending and the property market.

…And in the world at large. The International Monetary Fund gives an updated outlook for the global economy, and might trim its 2014 global growth forecast of 3.6% due to weak investment.

While you were sleeping

China had good manufacturing news… The preliminary HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index hit an 18-month high of 52.0 in July, from 50.7 in June. China’s mini-stimulus appears to have done the trick, and the country looks to be on track to reach its annual GDP growth target of 7.5%.

…But Japan did not. The flash Markit/JMMA purchasing managers’ index dropped to 50.8 in July, from 51.1 in June—a level that just barely indicates expansion. Separately, exports fell 2% and imports rose 8.4%, widening the trade deficit to a larger-than-expected 822.2 billion yen ($8.1 billion).

Facebook stock hit a record high. The social media giant’s earnings and revenue easily beat estimates, sending its shares soaring. Its mobile business now generates 62% of ad sales, up 41% from a year ago, but much of the company’s user growth came in countries where it has trouble making much money from them.

The US ban on flights to Israel entered a second day. Critics said the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision is a political tool to pressure Israel to stop military action, and that it rewards Hamas. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire negotiations were hampered by regional rifts.

Evidence built against Ukraine’s separatists. A Ukrainian rebel leader confirmed rebels had a Russian missile system of the type suspected in bringing down a Malaysian airliner. Earlier, two Ukrainian fighter jets were also shot down (paywall) not far from the crash site.

Bombardier announced 1,800 job cuts. The Montreal-based engineering company will split its airline division in three, and its aerospace president and COO Guy Hachey will retire. The job cuts come as it tries to fix issues with its mid-sized CSeries jets.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on the forthcoming epic battle in the music industry. “Online streaming is about the only part of the recorded music business that is growing at the moment. … However, streaming music is about to become a pawn in a high-stakes chess match involving the true titans of the tech world. For these firms, the music business isn’t an end in itself, but just one piece in their battle to control the future of the internet.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Russia shouldn’t host the World Cup in 2018, unless Putin offers some answers on MH17.

The US exported a gang epidemic to Central America. The child refugees on its border are its own legacy.

Indonesia is not proof that “Muslim democracy” can work. The country’s thriving democracy has nothing to do with its faith.

The World Bank needs to update itself. It needs to start complementing the private sector, not competing with it.

Malaysia Airlines has a path to redemption. But it will need to earn the forgiveness of victims’ families to save itself.

Surprising discoveries

You can make cheese from your feet. Swab between your toes for art and science.

Men with wide faces are better at negotiating. They tend to be more competitive (paywall).

Is that a thunderstorm? No, it’s mayflies. Mating swarms are so dense they can show up on weather radar.

The Queen’s horse is on drugs. The prize-winning racehorse tested positive for morphine, probably from contaminated feed.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, foot cheese, and mayfly radar maps to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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Quartz Daily Brief—Hong Kong arrests, Jamie Dimon’s cancer, UK investigates Facebook, World Cup abstinence

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Janet Yellen discusses rates. The head of the Federal Reserve will speak at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC, and will likely be pushed to provide more details on whether rates will rise at the start of next year.

A curtain-raiser for US jobs day. Paycheck-processing company ADP’s reading on US private-sector job creation in June may shed some light on labor market trends. The official jobs report will be out on Thursday morning, instead of the usual Friday, due to the US Independence Day holiday.

Deal-making resumes on Iranian nukes. The P5+1—the five permanent members of the UN security council, plus Germany—resume negotiations with Iran over its nuclear development program. There’s a July 20 deadline for a deal.

Renzi talks to his “boring old aunt.” Italy’s prime minister will lay out his vision for a more expansive growth policy before the European Parliament. Italy has just assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, which Renzi recently likened to a “boring old aunt” for its fixation on fiscal rectitude rather than growth.

While you were sleeping

Hong Kong’s democracy protests ended with mass arrests. Demonstrators who vowed to occupy the city’s central business district were hauled away by police, who made more than 500 arrests. Organizers said half a million protesters turned up to rail against Beijing’s control over the city’s supposedly autonomous elections.

Jamie Dimon has throat cancer. JP Morgan’s CEO said he caught the cancer early enough for it to be treated, and that he expects to remain active in running the bank. His treatment is likely to last about eight weeks.

UK regulators began a Facebook probe over a study (paywall) that manipulated the emotions of users, to see whether the company broke data protection laws.

Australia’s trade deficit blew up. Declining natural resource exports led to a deficit of A$1.9 billion ($1.8 billion) for May—almost ten times the amount a Bloomberg survey predicted. Fading demand from China is hurting prices for iron ore and coal.

US auto sales gained momentum. With the exception of Honda, leading automakers all reported better-than-expected June car sales. And, yes, that included General Motors; the company saw a moderate rise in sales over June 2013, despite a slew of safety recalls.

Moody’s kicked Puerto Rico deeper into the junkyard. The ratings agency downgraded all the island’s major debt issuers. Puerto Rico was already perilously close to overtaking Argentina as the sovereign considered most likely to default.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Fromer explains why Twitter’s next trick is to prove it can actually become a stable, grown-up company. “Twitter is simply too good an idea—and too successful already—that it shouldn’t someday have billions of users and billions of dollars in revenue. … The challenge will be to make the product and the business work in harmony, at much greater scale than it does today.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

American values are to blame for the world’s chaos. Forcing democracy on other countries has backfired dramatically.

Li Ka-shing’s exit plans should worry Hong Kongers. When even the billionaires who benefited from the status quo start investing elsewhere, there is reason to be concerned.

The secret to Belgium’s economic success: no government. Without one, it can’t pursue the austerity policies that have crippled its neighbors (paywall).

You really need to get more sleep. The productivity you gain more than makes up for the time you lose (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

All of the World Cup teams that banned sex have been eliminated. Of course, a lot of more permissive teams have lost too.

New Zealand is the home of the free. 94% of citizens are satisfied with their freedom, the highest percentage of any country.

Mug shots can be head shots. A California convict scored a $30,000 modeling gig after the internet went gaga over his looks.

Supercomputers can be chefs. Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, just came out with its own barbecue sauce, Bengali Butternut BBQ Sauce, which has a “slow, warm heat and a kick.”

Iranian TV has a frame-for-frame ripoff of Modern Family. Minus the gay characters, of course.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, modeling mugshots, and algorithmically-derived barbecue sauce recipes to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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POLITICO Breaking News @politico

The Senate voted 78-17 on Monday to advance an aid and sanctions package in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, setting up a final vote later this week.

The legislation includes reforms to the International Monetary Fund that is opposed by many Republicans. A similar package in the GOP-led House does not include the IMF provisions.

Germany mulls giving Greece more autonomy over reforms decisions -paper

BERLIN, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Germany is considering giving Greece more leeway to decide itself which reforms to take if it requires a third bailout package, a German daily reported on Tuesday, citing government sources.

Creditors would no longer dictate in detail which reforms Athens should carry out. “We want to get away form this approach that came above all from the experiences of the International Monetary Fund in developing countries,” Die Welt quoted an unnamed source as saying. Instead of listing more than 100 measures to take, international lenders could give the Greek government 20 goals to reach, the paper said.

“The Greeks could then decide themselves which measures to take to reach these goals,” Die Welt quoted asource as saying.

Greece has received two aid packages from the International Monetary Fund and the euro zone since 2010 in return for spending cuts and reforms.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Quartz Daily Brief—French austerity, JP Morgan’s $3 billion mortgage tab, UN inspectors return to Syria

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Daily Brief sponsored by Siemens

What to watch for today

French belt-tightening. The government will present its 2014 budget, having revised its projections of the deficit and economic growth rate after the International Monetary Fund warned they were too optimistic. France’s business confidence index is out too, and is likely to have remained downbeat in August.

Mixed signals from the US economy. Durable goods orders in August are expected to have fallen 0.5% from July, due to a decline in aircraft orders. New home sales probably rebounded last month after plunging in July by the most in three years.

UN inspectors will hunt for more clues in Syria. Investigators who left the country when US air strikes seemed imminent will return to look for more proof of chemical weapons use. The team will also gather evidence from an alleged chemical attack in northern Syria in March.

Bed Bath & Beyond rides the US housing recovery. The home-furnishings retailer reports second quarter earnings, which are projected to rise. Investors will also pay close attention to the company’s efforts to fending off competition from online retailers like Amazon.

While you were sleeping

Telefonica tightens grip on Telecom Italia. The Spanish telecom group will gradually raise its stake in the Telco holding company that owns a 22% stake in Telecom Italia, in a cash and shares deal worth 860 million euros ($1.2 billion).

JP Morgan probe tab may reach $3 billion. The bank is reportedly negotiating (paywall) with the US Justice department to settle over half a dozen mortgage investigations in one go. But even if the deal goes through, the bank will still face criminal investigations by federal prosecutors.

Kenya proclaimed victory over al-Shabaab. President Uhuru Kenyatta said security forces killed five militants and captured 11 others in the standoff at the Westgate mall in Nairobi. At least 67 people were killed in the siege, and authorities say more bodies could be found in the collapsed shopping center.

The US government is seeking a hefty SAC settlement. Federal prosecutors want hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors to pay $1.5 billion to $2 billion to settle insider trading charges. Any deal would require founder Steven A. Cohen to plead guilty.

UK brokerage facing Libor charges. The US Justice Department is preparing to charge staff at the London-based firm ICAP with rigging benchmark interest rates, according to the Wall Street Journal.

AIG’s chief executive apologized for lynching remarks. The insurer’s head, Bob Benmosche, said he was sorry for his comments comparing disapproval of bankers’ bonuses to Deep South hangings.

A 28-year-old woman completed a solo rowing trip from Japan to Alaska. British adventurer Sarah Outen arrived in the Aleutian Islands after nearly five months of rowing, covering 3,750 miles.

Sponsor content by Siemens

Is the future of rail travel more efficient? Within its first two decades of operation, the the Amtrak Cities Sprinter will conserve more than three billion kilowatts of energy, translating to a cost savings of up to $300 million.Advertisement

Quartz obsession interlude

Todd Woody on why the number of killer thunderstorms could jump 40% by 2070. “In a first-of-its-kind study published yesterday, scientists at Stanford University have linked climate change to the increasing frequency of such super storms. By 2070, the number of severe thunderstorms, which often spawn deadly tornadoes, could increase by 40% in the eastern US, according to the computer model developed by the Stanford scientists.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Angela Merkel’s re-election is a disaster for Greece. It will result in crushing austerity unless a leftist Greek government is elected to power.

47% of American jobs could soon be done by robots… Only those professions that require creative and social intelligence will be safe from computers of the future.

…but don’t blame them for falling wages. Most of the last 25 years’ drop in US workers’ pay is due to trade, not automation.

Time to delete your LinkedIn account? The site’s email marketing policy is inherently abusive.

Amazon is not the bookstore-killer it is made out to be. Independent bookstores are, in fact, growing in the US.

Uncertainty over climate change is a good thing. It means science is working.

Surprising discoveries

A notorious Twitter spambot is actually a human being. @Horse_ebooks mastermind Jacob Bakkila unveiled his conceptual art project in a New York art gallery.

A trader lost $4 million betting on Mitt Romney in an attempt to manipulate the prediction marketplace InTrade.

The CIA’s non-human spies. In the Cold War, the US intelligence agency trained ravens to retrieve objects, pigeons to warn of enemy ambushes, and cats to eavesdrop on conversations.

A strip club is suing Oracle. The San Francisco establishment wants the software giant to pick up a $33,540 tab racked up by one of its employees.

The reason newborn babies smell so good. They trigger the same circuits in the brain as satisfying a craving for food (but please don’t eat them).

Who says newspapers are dead? A number of publications founded in the 1600s are still alive today.

Quartz turned one on Wednesday. Here’s a thank you note from our editor. And a little something for you to have fun with.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, newborn baby smells and Quartz birthday wishes to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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