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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama’s Russia diss, G20 targets tax loopholes, Britain’s shale gas handout, snail mucus facials

What to watch for today

Will Obama diss Russia? The US president may cancel a scheduled trip to meet with Vladimir Putin as relations between the countries come under increasing strain due to Edward Snowden’s long-term stay in Moscow’s airport and the politically-tainted conviction of activist Alexei Navalny.

FIFA vs Brazil. The soccer governing body is due to unveil ticket prices for the 2014 World Cup. Many Brazilians are already incensed by the cost of the event, and FIFA isn’t helping matters by criticizing the protests that took place there earlier this month.

US industrial earnings. General Electric is forecast to report a drop in its second-quarter profit but a strong sales order book going forward; rival Honeywell is also slated to announce its quarterly numbers.

Rival protests in Egypt. Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi have called for protests on Friday, in tandem with the call from those out on the streets to celebrate the military coup that removed him. Since the coup on July 3, both sides have demonstrated separately, but clashes with security forces have caused fatalities.

While you were sleeping

The G20 targets tax loopholes. The world’s leading economies backed an action plan to target ““base erosion and profits shifting” after the OECD found that large multinational companies—particularly companies with online operations like Apple and Google—were artificially separating taxable income from the economic activity that generates it.

The UK offered shale gas companies the world’s most generous tax system. Chancellor George Osborne promised that extractors of shale gas would be required to pay a 30% tax on production rather than the usual 62% rate for oil and gas. Environmental groups are not happy.

China expands foreign drugmaker bribery probe. Belgian pharmaceutical firm UCB was visited by Chinese authorities, and other foreign companies may also be under the microscope.

Palestinian-Israeli pre-talks snagged. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal to restart negotiations took a hit after Palastinian officials demanded guarantees that Israel would agree on a general border for a two-state solution.

Alexei Navalny was released pending appeal. The Russian politician and activist was given a five year sentence on Thursday on theft charges widely believed to be politically motivated. Hours later, his prosecutors asked that he be freed while his appeal goes through, a request that was granted with travel restrictions.

Japanese shares slid in advance of elections. The Nikkei closed down 1.5%, wiping out most of the week’s gains, sparked by profit-taking and uncertainty about Upper House parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Vodafone beat expectations but sales still fell. The UK-based wireless carrier suffered a sales drop of 3.5% in the second quarter, largely due to a price war in Germany, which has in turn compounded a general slump in demand.

Quartz obsession interlude

Rachel Feltman on cheaper versions of popular smartphones: “For smartphone consumers who are deterred from the more expensive upgrades offered for their high-end phones, Mini models could offer a cheaper enticement to keep upgrading. If that happens, mid-level smartphone devices with cheaper bodies would make a lot of sense. After all, do we need our phone bodies to last for more than a year if we’re going to upgrade them every six months?” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Barbecues make men sexist. Even otherwise normal suburban guys turn possessive over the grill and relegate women to mere “salad spinners.”

Don’t boycott Rolling Stone’s cover story on the Boston bomber. If anything, we need to know more about kids like him.

The North Koreans are actually expert gunrunners. Don’t be fooled by the Panama incident—it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

China is hitting an economic Great Wall. The root of the problem is that it has begun to run out of surplus peasants.

Heathrow should be shut down. That’s the view of London mayor Boris Johnson; the airport’s managers just want to build a third runway.

Surprising discoveries

War is not human nature. A new study suggests that violent mass conflict is a relatively recent phenomenon.

At last, a easier way to get ice cubes out of the tray. Lick finger, press to cube, use as crane.

The haunting tune of global warming. What it sounds like when temperature data is converted into music.

Surfing the DMZ. Catching a wave between guard towers and barbed wire is becoming a popular past-time.

Snail facials in Tokyo. Their mucus is good for the skin; treatments cost $100 for five minutes.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, feminist barbecue plans and ice-cube extraction methods to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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