Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Israel-Palestine talks, China’s government debt audit, in vitro burgers

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What to watch for today

Israel and Palestine go back to the negotiating table. For the first time in three years, the two sides will resume peace talks in Washington on Monday evening, largely thanks to the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry. The last of many preconditions was met on Sunday when Israel released 104 Palestinian prisoners.

Japan dispatched an envoy to patch up ties with China. Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki will visit Beijing on Monday and Tuesday in an attempt to improve relations between the two Asian giants, particularly over territorial disputes. Saiki’s visit could precede a summit between the two countries’ leaders.

Egyptian crackdown. After at least 70 people were gunned down by security forces over the weekend, interim president Adly Mansour authorized the prime minister to grant the army powers to arrest civilians, a move seen as a prelude to a crackdown on the supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. A pro-Morsi crowd several thousand strong began marching on a military facility early on Monday morning.

A crisis meeting in India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will discuss the falling rupee, rising current-account deficit, and slowing growth with industry leaders.

Yogurt and vitamin earnings. Danone announces earnings, and attention will be on its China operations, where it was forced to cut prices of infant-formula by as much as 20% after a price-fixing probe. US-based nutritional supplements seller Herbalife is expected to post robust earnings despite hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s continued claims that the company is a Ponzi scheme.

Over the weekend

China commissioned a debt audit to tally how much money is owed by all levels of government, from villages up to central authorities—the first such review in two years. It’s a sign of concern that rising government debt could pose a systemic risk.

A Mad Men merger. New York-based Omnicom and Paris-based Publicis, the second- and third-biggest ad firms respectively by revenue, will merge to create the world’s largest advertising holding company with a market value of $35.1 billion. The deal is being pegged as a “merger of equals,” in part to appease antitrust regulators.

The EU and China basked in the sunshine. Both sides agreed to set a minimum price for imports of Chinese solar panels, and exempt Chinese manufacturers from punitive tariffs meant to counter below-cost sales.

Spanish authorities charged the driver of a crashed train. Francisco Garzon was charged with 79 counts of reckless homicide and numerous counts of bodily harm. He was released pending trial.

Steven Cohen threw a party. Unbowed by criminal charges filed against his SAC hedge fund, Cohen feted several dozen people at his 9,000-square-foot mansion in the Hamptons.

Boeing requested inspections of an airplane component. Airlines have been asked to check on equipped Honeywell International emergency beacons, one of which is thought to have started a fire on a parked Dreamliner 787 aircraft two weeks ago.

Michael Dell dug in. The Dell founder said he would stay on at the PC maker even if his buyout offer fails, but added won’t sell assets (paywall) or borrow money to give shareholders a payout.

Cambodia’s ruling party clung to power. Authoritarian prime minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party won 68 seats in parliament to the opposition’s 55. It was a setback for Sen—his party had 90 seats in the outgoing parliament—despite suspected voting irregularities and a ban that stopped opposition leader Sam Rainsy from running.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on why US banks may get bigger if Larry Summers is chosen as the US Federal Reserve chairman. “He points out that some of the highest-profile financial failures of the crisis—Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers—were individual Wall Street investment banks. In other words, they would have been allowed to exist even before Gramm-Leach-Bliley was enacted. ”If you look at the big failures, Lehman and Bear Stearns were both standalone investment banks,” he told a British interviewer back in early 2012. ”Perhaps if they had been combined with banks they would have been in a more healthy situation.”  Read more here.

Matters of debate

Online education can be good or cheap, but not both. Low pass rates and high drop-out rates show how hard it is to succeed without the labor-intensive side of teaching.

To lead the world, you have to be big. An eastward power shift is a main motivator for US/EU cooperation.

Chinese workers helped create the great recession. New wealth in the developing world fueled the bubble in the West.

Criticize Putin, but don’t support his rivals. It’s counterproductive to make governments believe that the west is out to replace them.

The Arab Spring is being stifled at gunpoint. Countries that welcomed the fall of dictators should now condemn the brute military force in Egypt.

Surprising discoveries

Scientists have grown an “in vitro” burger. The $385,000 delicacy will be served at a west London venue on Monday.

Lightning-fast computing. New materials to replace silicon could lead to computers thousands of times faster.

Hackers can control your Prius. They can make it brake hard at 80mph or even jerk it off the road.

A spinach gene could protect orange trees from an incurable disease. But convincing consumers may be hard work.

Weather has cost the world $85 billion in damages this year. And only a quarter of that was insured.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, in vitro burger reviews and Prius hacks to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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