Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—UK GDP climbs, Russian sanction pain, protests in Jerusalem, zero-G gecko peril

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What to watch for today

Palestinians protest in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Demonstrations erupted on the last Friday of Ramadan against the Israeli army shelling of a UN elementary school in Gaza. Up to 10,000 people have already taken to the streets; two were killed and 200 injured.

Signs of pain in Russia? Fitch and Moody’s will update their Russian sovereign debt ratings, state oil giant Rosneft reports earnings, and the Russian central bank issues an interest-rate decision, all of which could give clues as to whether Western sanctions are having an effect.

An Indonesian election challenge. Prabowo Subianto, the former general who narrowly lost Indonesia’s presidential race to Joko Widodo, is expected to submit a court claim (paywall) seeking to overturn the outcome.

Shinzo Abe follows in Xi Jinping’s footsteps. Japan’s prime minister embarks on a five-country tour of Latin America and the Caribbean, following on the heels of China’s president as the two Asian powerhouses compete for clout in the region.

While you were sleeping

Sky Europe is a go. The UK’s BSkyB will pay £5.3 billion ($9 billion) for 21st Century Fox’s German and Italian pay-TV assets, freeing up cash that could fund Rupert Murdoch’s bid to acquire Time Warner. The move is partly a shuffling of Murdoch’s assets, as BSkyB is 39% owned by 21st Century Fox.

British economic growth climbed back to pre-crisis levels. Preliminary readings showed that Q2 GDP grew 0.8% on the quarter and 3.1% from a year ago—the biggest increase since 2007.

RBS shocked the markets, in a good way. The British taxpayer-owned bank’s first-half profit nearly doubled due to cost-cutting and fewer failed loans. The earnings—reported a week ahead of schedule—sent shares soaring.

McDonald’s Japan stopped sourcing chicken from China. The company will import poultry from Thailand in the wake of the Shanghai Husi food safety scandal. McDonald’s in China said it would continue to source chicken from Husi’s US parent company, OSI, arguing that other food processors in China may be even worse.

German business confidence hit a low for the year. The influential Ifo Institute’s business climate index fell to 108.0 in July. Respondents were pessimistic about both present and future in Europe’s largest economy.

Japan’s inflation dipped slightly to 3.3% in June, from 3.4% in May, in unwelcome but unsurprising news for the country’s central bank, which is trying to hit a 2% inflation target.

BNP Paribas got fined again. The French bank is set to pay $80 million for defrauding the US Department of Agriculture. It helped US commodities exporters claim undeserved compensation.

Quartz obsession interlude

Adam Epstein on how American cable channels have become an indistinguishable swamp of reality TV. “TLC is not the only one abandoning its roots. Dozens of basic cable networks no longer adhere to any core identity or defined genre of programming. MTV (which stood at one time for “Music Television”) infamously airs very little music programming. Two of the most popular shows on The History Channel (now just called History) are Pawn Stars and Ice Road Truckers. Animal Planet’s most watched program last year was a pseudoscience “mocudrama” on mermaids.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Air travel is not getting more dangerous. Despite the recent run of tragedies, flying is even safer than it used to be.

Actually, Ivy League universities don’t produce mindless zombies. Don’t believe what you’ve heard—there’s nothing wrong with America’s finest learning institutions.

The US should expose Putin’s network of offshore accounts. Europe will hate it at first, but will thank America for it later.

India’s populist party leader could learn from Indonesia’s president-elect. India’s Arvind Kerjiwal is struggling to find his feet.

The FAA shouldn’t have banned flights to Israel. Closing down infrastructure in the face of terrorist threats is self-defeating, says Michael Bloomberg.

Surprising discoveries

Walmart ice cream sandwiches don’t melt in the sun. They’re too full of gum.

Russia’s zero-G sex geckos are in trouble. A satellite carrying the lizards (five female, one male) to study their reproductive habits is malfunctioning.

A South Korean baseball team has a robot cheering section. The Hanwa Eagles offer robotic surrogates for fans who can’t make the game.

Alibaba sells Jeff Koons knock-offs. Balloon dog sculptures on the Chinese e-commerce site are only $500; the original sold for $58 million.

Surgeons removed 232 teeth from a teen in India. Think about this the next time you complain about a dentist visit.

Powerful people have a distorted perception of time. Their feelings of control make them think they have more time than they do.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, baseball robots, and space gecko rescue plans to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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