Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—BofA’s settlement, Foley ransom, Russia’s burger probe, beet lipstick

August 21, 2014
August 21, 2014

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The Gaza war rages on. Since the collapse of talks on Tuesday, Israel has launched some 100 air strikes against Gaza, killing at least 22 Palestinians, including the wife and son of Hamas’s military leader. Hamas has launched more than 140 rockets at Israel; no casualties have been reported on the Israeli side.

Bank of America may announce a record settlement. The bank could agree as soon as today to pay more than $16.5 billion in fines and compensation to settle investigations into fraudulent mortgage securities. The deal would be larger than the $13 billion JP Morgan paid last year.

Ukrainian forces try to regain Donetsk. Clashes between government troops and pro-Russian separatists around the rebel-held city have killed 34 residents and injured 29 in the past day or so, the Ukrainian authorities say.

America’s top central bankers and economists will meet. Federal Reserve officials’ annual economic and monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, starts today. The viability of the central bank’s stimulus campaign to help unemployment is likely to dominate this year’s conference.

Indonesia’s court weighs in on the election. The country’s constitutional court decides whether to overturn the July election results that gave Jakarta governor Joko Widodo a 6% lead over Prabowo Subianto. Prabowo brought the legal challenge alleging election fraud. Nine judges will make the decision at 2pm local time.

Ferguson focuses on investigations. US attorney-general Eric Holder has arrived in Ferguson, Missouri, and promised a quick investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9.  A Missouri grand jury has begun to hear evidence and the earliest that it could present charges is October. After days of protests, the streets have been relatively calm (paywall).

While you were sleeping

Russia went bananas over burgers. The country’s main consumer watchdog ordered four McDonald’s outlets in Moscow to suspend operations, claiming “numerous” breaches of sanitary standards. In July the watchdog filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, citing various violations.

Continued Iraq airstrikes and a failed rescue mission. The US announced more military strikes against ISIL, and officials revealed a failed, secret mission to save Foley and others held captive in Syria this summer. Before Foley’s death, ISIL asked for a “multi-million dollar” (paywall) ransom for his release, which the US refused to pay.

Liberians protested quarantine. Violence erupted in West Point (paywall), a slum in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, after it was put under quarantine and curfew in an effort to contain Ebola. Soldiers clashed with thousands of young men trying to storm the neighborhood’s barricades.

A call for sanctions against Argentina. Holders of defaulted Argentine bonds asked a US judge to consider “contempt” sanctions, following Argentina’s proposal to pay its foreign debt locally, rather than to a US bank. For the proposal to go ahead, its existing creditors would have to accept a debt swap. Markets were also not impressed by the plan.

Hewlett-Packard had good news. The computer giant reported a slight, surprise increase in its quarterly revenue at $27.6 billion, despite the ongoing company restructuring. Sales from its PCs went up by 12%, although the other divisions stayed unchanged or decreased.

Thai got a prime minister. Three months after leading a coup, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, was voted in as prime minister by a legislature installed by his own military. The move will only tighten the junta’s current grip on power in the country.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling revisits Hollywood’s golden years, after the industry’s worst summer. “Many consider 1939 to be Hollywood’s ‘golden year’—the year of Gone With the WindThe Wizard of Oz, and Stagecoach. But in financial terms, 2002 is the record year for gross ticket sales at the US box office (based on BoxOffice Mojo data, which goes back to 1982, and converted to inflation-adjusted dollars using the BLS inflation calculator). In nominal terms, 2013 was a record year at the US box office.” Read more here. 

Matters of debate

Kurdish fighters aren’t terrorists. The Kurdistan Workers Party is on the US terrorist blacklist, but it can play a constructive role in Iraq.

Private investment alone won’t help Africa. The recent US-Africa Summit promised a flood of new cash, but the public sector needs financing too.

The crisis of America is the crisis of the black male. The country may have a black president, but it still has to address its black underclass.

Twitter is just like TV. The continuous, unstoppable stream of content is what makes it maddening, but also gripping.

Ivy League students struggle with “grandiosity and depression.” These privileged kids “have no ability to measure their own worth in any realistic way,” a former professor from Yale writes.

Surprising discoveries

A Chinese beer maker put Viagra in his drinks. He marketed his beer as “healthy,” but was recently arrested.

A bathroom of Belgian chocolate will cost you $133,000. The full set is made up of an estimated 12 years worth of calories.

A Brazilian parliamentary candidate is campaigning as “Barack Obama.” His real name is Claudio Henrique.

Big weddings mean happier marriages. Couples with 150 or more guests at their wedding are more likely to describe their marriage several years later as a happy one.

Future livestock may have bug-based diets. With a projected global population of 9 billion by 2050, livestock feeding trials are testing cheaper feed options like fly larvae.

The woman who could be Brazil’s next leader has a clever beauty trick. She uses shaved beetroot and olive oil as lipstick.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, beet lipstick, and chocolate to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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