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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Samsung’s profit plunge, UK manufacturing dips, Cuba’s senator set-up, remote-control contraception

What to watch for today

Alcoa kicks off earnings season. The aluminum giant releases second-quarter results, which will show the effect of weak aluminum prices, and provide an outlook for the global aerospace sector.

Brazilian inflation ticks upwards. The government will release inflation data for June, which rose due to a weak currency and the World Cup. A Bloomberg survey estimates consumer prices rose 6.51%, a fraction over the government’s target ceiling of 6.5%.

Moguls gather in Sun Valley. At the annual Allen & Co. conference of top media and tech execs in California, the planned mega-mergers of US telecoms firms are likely to dominate the agenda (paywall).

Legal pot goes on sale in Washington, the second US state where marijuana can be sold for recreational use. In Colorado, which legalized recreational use six months ago, the governor recently said the outcome “could’ve been a lot worse.”

While you were sleeping

Samsung’s profits plummeted. The Korean electronics giant said its second-quarter earnings will be only $8.1 billion, far short of analysts’ expectations, due to low demand for its smartphones and tablets in China and Europe. That’s grim news not just for Samsung, but for the entire smartphone industry.

UK manufacturing took a surprise dip. Output in May fell by 1.3%, despite expectations of a slight uptick (paywall).

German banks face US sanction-busting fines. American regulators are in talks with Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank over their dealings with countries subject to US sanctions, according to Reuters. Their punishments aren’t expected to be as severe as BNP Paribas, which was hit with a $9 billion fine for similar transgressions, but on a much larger scale.

Cuba may have framed a US senator. Robert Menendez, known for his fierce anti-Castro stance, was accused in the US media of cavorting with underage prostitutes. But the story may have been fabricated by Cuban intelligence agents.

India opened its railways to private investors. Most of India’s future railway projects will be financed through public-private initiatives, and some rail services will be also open to foreign direct investment. The country’s new railway minister also promised better better food, cleaner stations, and Wi-Fi service.

BMW enjoyed a bumper June. The German luxury car maker announced a 7.3% rise in sales for June as well as a 10.2% rise on six-month deliveries, outselling the company’s rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Increased demand came from China and the US.

A major storm loomed over Japan. Typhoon Neoguri weakened slightly, but still had sustained winds of 108 mph (175 km/h) and gusts up to 154 mph as it pummeled Okinawa; 50,000 homes are reportedly without power and more than 100,000 residents were urged to evacuate. So far no deaths have been confirmed, and a repeat of the Fukushima disaster is highly unlikely.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on what the US’s busiest port explains about the world’s economy. “The first thing you notice on a visit to the Port of Los Angeles is the cranes towering along the water, poised over the massive ships beneath them. The second is that there are no people, at least none visible: Sometimes you catch sight of a silhouette in a crane’s control room or a truck cab, but the work that goes on is largely far above human scale. This is the US gateway to the most important economic trend of the new century: The epic export-driven growth of China’s economy.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Recycling more than your neighbor doesn’t make you more virtuous. But consuming less does.

Don’t panic about market corrections. They’re normal, inevitable, and all but impossible to forecast.

Silicon Valley is investing in the wrong stuff. Money is flowing away from potentially transformative research (paywall).

America’s love of soccer is no fad. The audience is younger, better informed, and more likely to stick around until the next World Cup than ever.

Russia is losing its battle with stagflation, despite the Kremlin’s attempts to put a positive spin on recent economic news.

Surprising discoveries

Bill Gates is funding remote-controlled contraceptives. A new device for women will work for 16 years—or until they switch it off.

The standard bearer of the US cupcake boom ran out of dough. Dozens of Crumbs outlets were shuttered overnight.

These grapes better not be sour. A Japanese wedding hall spent $5,400 on the the first 30 Ruby Roman grapes of the season.

ATM skimmers have gotten frighteningly tiny. The devices used to steal card and PIN data are incredibly difficult to detect.

Heroin is marketed like iPhones. Carefully branded baggies promise the latest and greatest new thing.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, expensive grapes, and collectable heroin baggies (sans heroin) to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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