Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Softbank’s next move, Iraq airstrikes approved, secret menu secrets, Swedish muscle danger

August 8, 2014
August 8, 2014

What to watch for today

The Gaza ceasefire is down to the wire. Talks in Cairo continue as Friday’s 5am GMT deadline looms. While Israel said it was ready to extend the 72-hour ceasefire under current conditions, Hamas held a rally calling for the bombardment of Tel Aviv, saying it won’t continue the truce unless the Gaza blockade is lifted.

Italian senators vote on whether to fire themselves. Prime minister Matteo Renzi’s flagship reform initiative would curb the senate’s power and unseat many representatives. The bill, which has received nearly 8,000 amendments, has to make two separate runs through both chambers of parliament.

SoftBank’s next move. The Japanese telecom and technology firm will face questions at its earnings call (paywall) about its decision to call off an attempt to buy T-Mobile, the US’s fourth largest carrier, and merge it into Sprint, which Softbank already owns.

Hawaii braces for double hurricanes. Category 1 Hurricane Iselle is expected to hit the Big Island with gusts of up to 85 mph (137 km/h), and her big brother Julio, a Category 2 storm, is on track to make landfall this weekend.

A North American employment bounce-back. The US Labor Department is expected to announce higher business productivity in the second quarter, which could slow a recent rise in unit labor costs. Canada’s unemployment rate for July is expected to remain at 7.1%.

While you were sleeping

The US authorized air strikes in Iraq. President Barack Obama said Islamic State militants will be targeted if they move towards Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, or if they interfere with US planes airlifting humanitarian aid to Yazidi refugees.

China’s trade balance took a positive swing… Exports rose 14.5% in July versus the same period last year, according to government data, almost double the expected rise. Imports fell 1.6%, creating a $47.3 billion trade surplus for the month, and raising more doubts about China’s shift towards a consumer-driven economy.

…As it put foreigners on trial.  UK citizen Peter Humphrey and his wife, US citizen Yu Yingzeng, are facing charges of illegally obtaining information about Chinese citizens. Separately, an American working for a Christian NGO has been interrogated for three weeks, and a Canadian couple have been arrested for allegedly stealing state secrets. China’s criminal conviction rate is 99.9%.

Malaysia Airlines is being nationalized. The tragedy-prone airline will be restructured by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which will spend 1.4 billion ringgit ($440 million) to delist the company’s shares. Minority shareholders will receive a 12.5% premium on the airline’s Thursday closing price.

Bright spots in UK employment. Employers are paying more for talented staff and employees are increasingly willing to switch jobs for higher pay. The government’s official wage data has yet to reflect the shift: last month it recorded the lowest increase since 2001.

Argentina tried to take the US to court. It asked the International Court of Justice to intervene in its dispute with creditors, saying US judicial rulings violated its sovereignty. The Hague court said no dice, “unless and until” Washington accepts the ICJ’s jurisdiction.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Kirsten Narula on the real story behind secret menus, which”exist at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Chipotle, Jamba Juice, and other restaurants, too. They’re hardly secrets, of course, but the word ‘menu’ connotes a curation of sorts, intentionality on behalf of the food establishment—and that’s at odds with the origin stories of most of these items.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The West should arm the Kurds. A strong Kurdistan is the only hope for what remains of Iraq.

The European Central Bank needs to stop dithering. The threat of deflation in the euro zone is only getting worse.

Copyright laws are hindering animal artists. How are aspiring monkey photographers supposed to make a living?

Africa needs better data along with aid. Otherwise nobody will really know how the money is being spent.

Surprising discoveries

Don’t tell white people the US justice system is racist. It makes them like it more.

Singapore is giving senior citizens control over stoplights. A swipe of a card provides more time to cross intersections.

You can get arrested in Sweden for being too muscular. An “unusually large” man was jailed because cops suspected he was on steroids.

62,000 chicken heads reversed a rabies outbreak. Swiss doctors dosed them with vaccine and fed them to infected animals.

Mark Zuckerberg carried a samurai sword in the office. He used it to motivate Facebook staff.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, unorthodox motivational techniques, and muscle-safe countries to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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