Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—GM’s misery, new MH17 evidence, ECB hacked, royal horse doping

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What to watch for today

A look at the size of GM’s wounds. The US auto giant announces results from a miserable quarter in which it recalled millions of vehicles and revealed flaws in its corporate culture. Only yesterday it recalled another 718,000 vehicles, bringing the year’s total to some 29 million worldwide.

More fat-free growth from Amazon. Analysts expect the retailer to make a small loss on a 23% increase in revenue, continuing its tradition of favoring growth over profit. It’ll be too early to see the effects of its first smartphone, the Fire Phone, which hits shelves in the US this week, or last week’s release of Kindle Unlimited, but there are high hopes for both.

US airlines are flying high. Leisure travelers are expected to nearly double earnings per share for Southwest Airlines. JetBlue is also expected to report higher earnings, along with Alaska Air, United Continental, and American Airlines.

A gloomy prediction for the world at large. The International Monetary Fund may trim it 2014 global growth forecast, currently 3.6%, due to weak investment.

While you were sleeping

The US lifted its ban on flights to Israel. The FAA said it ended its 24-hour prohibition on US carriers flying into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport after it ”carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation.”

China had good manufacturing news… The preliminary HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index hit an 18-month high of 52.0 in July, from 50.7 in June. China’s mini-stimulus appears to have done the trick, putting the economy on track to reach its annual GDP growth target of 7.5%.

…But Japan and South Korea did not. The flash Markit/JMMA purchasing managers’ index for Japan dropped to 50.8 in July—a level that just barely indicates expansion—and the country’s trade deficit widened to a larger-than-expected 822.2 billion yen ($8.1 billion). South Korean GDP grew by a weaker-than-expected 0.6% in the second quarter, and new government stimulus measures are imminent.

The euro zone accelerated. The Markit flash purchasing managers’ index for the economic bloc reached a three-month high of 54.0 in July from 52.8 in June, though much of the growth was due to private companies slashing prices to maintain sales.

Someone hacked the European Central Bank. The attackers stole non-market-sensitive information such as users’ contact details. The ECB was only alerted to the theft after it received a ransom email demanding money for the data.

New evidence against Ukraine’s separatists. A pro-Russian rebel leader confirmed rebels had a Russian missile system of the type suspected of bringing down a Malaysian airliner. Two more Ukrainian fighter jets were also shot down (paywall) not far from the crash site.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on the forthcoming epic battle in the music industry. “Online streaming is about the only part of the recorded music business that is growing at the moment. … However, streaming music is about to become a pawn in a high-stakes chess match involving the true titans of the tech world. For these firms, the music business isn’t an end in itself, but just one piece in their battle to control the future of the internet.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Asia should worry about Xi Jinping. China’s leader has far too much power for any one man.

Russia shouldn’t host the World Cup in 2018, unless Putin offers some answers on MH17.

The US exported a gang epidemic to Central America. The child refugees on its border are its own legacy.

Indonesia is not proof that “Muslim democracy” can work. The country’s thriving democracy has nothing to do with its faith.

Malaysia Airlines has a path to redemption. But it will need to earn the forgiveness of victims’ families to save itself.

Surprising discoveries

Hipster t-shirt puns are not copyrightable. The creator of “lettuce turnip the beet” lost a court ruling.

You can make cheese from your feet. Swab between your toes for art and science.

Men with wide faces are better at negotiating. They tend to be more competitive (paywall).

Is that a thunderstorm? No, it’s mayflies. Mating swarms are so dense they can show up on weather radar.

The Queen’s horse is on drugs. The prize-winning racehorse tested positive for morphine, probably from contaminated feed.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, royal horse feed, and t-shirt puns to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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