Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—European GDP, Bahrain’s standoff, Ichan’s Apple bet, globetrotting ants

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What to watch for today

Europe’s longest recession since World War II may end. Second-quarter GDP is expected to grow 0.2%, the first positive reading since the third quarter of 2011. France and Germany also report GDP, and both are expected to show improvements.

UK unemployment to remain stubbornly high. Second quarter figures will probably stay unchanged at 7.8%, in the first release of jobless data since the Bank of England’s new policy of “forward guidance” linking future interest rates to unemployment.

Bahrain warns protesters. The government says it will “forcefully confront” democracy activists planning to take to the streets on the anniversary of the failed “Pearl Revolution” of 2011.

Israel and Palestine talk, but keep expectations low. Negotiations resume and prisoners were released, but Israel’s decision to expand settlements in East Jerusalem may hinder any real progress.

Hong Kong Stock Exchange opening delayed. The market will remain closed until the worst of Severe Typhoon Utor passes.

Power games in the Pacific. The Philippines will hold talks with the US about bolstering military cooperation and increasing American troop presence on the islands. The move may help both countries strengthen their influence in the region’s contested waters, but China is expected to protest.

Mixed earnings. US retail giant Macy’s should report higher earnings and offer some clues about how Americans will spend this fall. Networking giant Cisco is set to report strong numbers, thanks to North American markets. Farm equipment maker John Deere’s earnings are likely to take a hit thanks to dropping crop prices. China’s Tencent, which denied rumors that it’s spinning off its WeChat service, reports too.

While you were sleeping

A famous investor took a big bite of Apple. Carl Icahn announced on Twitter that he holds a “large position” in Apple stock and the tech giant was “extremely undervalued,” causing Apple’s stock price to soar. In what may be the first move in a long campaign, he said Apple should buy back more of its shares.

FIFA stood up for gay rights. The soccer organizer joined with the International Olympic Committee in questioning Russia over its new anti-gay laws ahead of the Russia-hosted World Cup in 2018 and Olympics in 2016.

SingTel beat the odds. Southeast Asia’s biggest phone company reported a rise in quarterly profit, to S$1.01 billion ($797 million) in the three months to June as the Singaporean company expands into regional markets, but said that sales dipped 5.3%.

Brazil vs Samsung. Prosecutors in Brazil have begun legal action against the South Korean electronics conglomerate for violating labor laws and making its employees in the Amazon region work shifts as long as 15 hours. Samsung said it would cooperate with the Brazilian authorities.

A challenge to the world’s biggest airline. The US Justice Department filed a surprise lawsuit against the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways, another sign of the department’s renewed aggression.

No jail for the London Whale. Former JP Morgan trader Bruno Iksil, whose bets led to more than $6 billion of losses last year, will not face US prosecution because he provided evidence about internal communications (paywall) at the bank. Two of Iksil’s superiors could be charged today, though.

North Korea officially became a monarchy. The ruling Worker’s Party revised its principles to say the country will be “kept alive forever” by the Kim family bloodline.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on why a proposed Indonesian ban on exporting maids to the rest of the world won’t put an end to the practice. “The government wants to set up a formal work scheme where foreign employers hire workers for specific tasks like cooking and babysitting rather than to be a household’s catch-all servant. Given that over one in ten Indonesians live in poverty, it’s likely that many will go through informal, as well as formal, channels to keep finding work abroad.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It is a good time to re-think presidential politics. With ludicrously long campaigns and distorted primary voting, there is a lot that can be done to improve the system.

Internet tycoons herald a new era of innovation. Whether you call them vain or visionary, people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are driving futuristic tech.

Animated movies reinforce the unrealistic cult of self esteem in children. Encouraging kids is fine, but movies like “Planes” and “Turbo” take the message to a damaging extreme.

Kick Argentina out of the G20. It’s an irresponsible debtor and it’s far too friendly with Iran.

Surprising discoveries

Miniature globetrotters. Large numbers of ants are being accidentally shipped around the world, establishing new colonies that could terrorize people and ecosystems.

Calorie math. Moderate alcohol drinkers gain less weight over time than people who abstain entirely (paywall).

China’s economy may be $1 trillion smaller than it says. Manipulation of house price data may have made inflation look smaller.

A new attempt to combat movie piracy. Hollywood studios employ technology that lets users watch a pirated film for 20 minutes, then shuts it down and asks them to pay.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, presidential campaign 2.0 plans and anti-piracy tactics to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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