Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Israel flights banned, Facebook earnings, EU inaction, Beatle vs. beetles

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What to watch for today

A Chinese firm dices with default. Construction firm Huatong Road & Bridge Group is in danger of failing to meet a 400 million yuan ($64 million) bond payment. Chinese traders are fearful of what would be only the second mainland default ever, and the first ever default on a principal payment rather than interest.

Facebook tries to keep its outperformance streak alive. The world’s largest social network has topped analyst estimates ever since it began seeing major growth from mobile advertising. The company’s new CFO, David Wehner, is expected to report a 68% boost in revenue and a 55% rise in earnings per share.

GlaxoSmithKline gets a health check. The pharmaceutical firm’s second-quarter profit is expected to fall about 17% to £1.4 billion ($2.39 billion). Investors will be looking for updates on its respiratory drug Advair and an ongoing bribery scandal in China.

Taiwan braces for its first major storm of the year. Schools and offices are closing in anticipation of Typhoon Matmo, which has sustained winds of 137 kilometers (85 miles) per hour. Stocks and bonds will see no action and currency markets are expected to follow suit.

While you were sleeping

Airlines suspended flights to Israel after a Palestinian rocket landed about a mile (1.6 km) from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport. US aviation regulators instituted a 24-hour ban, despite criticism that the move ”hands Hamas an undeserved victory.”

The EU was all talk and no action. Divided EU leaders postponed new sanctions against Russia, as France proceeded with the delivery of a warship to Moscow. Meanwhile, Britain opened a new inquiry into the murder of a Russian defector who was killed on UK soil with a highly radioactive isotope back in 2006.

Shanghai Husi reprocessed old meat “as a policy.” The US-owned processor that sold out-of-date meat to brands including KFC, Starbucks, and Burger King did so routinely and at the direction of the factory’s managers, according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.

McDonald’s and Coca-Cola came up short. The fast-food chain’s profit fell more than expected because of weak sales in the US and Europe. The soda company reported lower profit partly due to extra marketing costs (paywall) as it battles for the soda market share.

The iPhone drove Apple’s earnings. Although overall sales slowed, as they typically do in the quarter before a new iPhone launch, Apple sold 35.2 million of its cash-cow smartphones, a 13% increase from the same period last year. Profit increased by 12% to $7.7 billion, exceeding analysts’ expectations.

The legal battle over Obamacare isn’t over. Conflicting court rulings cast doubt on whether the federal government is allowed to subsidize individuals’ healthcare. Another round of appeals could take six months, and could eventually end up back at the Supreme Court.

Bill Ackman’s attack on Herbalife backfired. The billionaire hedge fund manager’s three-hour presentation that promised to deliver a deathblow to the nutritional drinks chain did not impress investors: Herbalife stock surged 15% as Ackman spoke.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian analyzes Vladimir Putin’s phone records. “No leader has had more contact with Putin than German chancellor Angela Merkel. Over the past six months she has spoken with the Russian president about Ukraine more than twice as many times as any other world leader. In their most recent conversation, the German chancellor “urged the Russian President strongly to use his influence over the separatists,” according to her office. This account fits Merkel’s cautious, deliberate approach to diplomacy with Russia, which has nonetheless hardened since the annexation of Crimea in March.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Sex in marriage is too much to hope for. There are too many other things going on.

Drone sales should be regulated, lest they get into the hands of terrorists.

Eat these fish and save the planet. Wild Alaskan salmon and Pacific sardines are among the few species that aren’t chronically overfished.

Bad highways are a threat to North America. Funding shortages have left US-Canadian transport systems in poor shape.

Surprising discoveries

A tree memorializing George Harrison died an ironic death. It was killed by beetles.

Two white flags replaced American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge. Art? Terrorism?  Police are investigating.

New Hong Kong micro-apartments are the size of a prison cell. They’re being built by the richest man in Asia.

One in every 25 New Yorkers is a millionaire. The percentage is even higher in Monaco, Zurich, and Geneva.

A Chinese shopping mall has parking spots for women. They’re pink, wider than normal, and have sparked a feminist outcry.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tiny apartment floor plans, and Pacific smoked salmon to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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