Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Drug company deal-making, McDonald’s forced vegetarianism, Ebola outbreak spreads, robot hitchhiker

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What to watch for today

Data from the world’s biggest economies. The US releases pending home sales figures for June, with conflicting signs over whether it’s business as usual. Japan’s jobless rate and household spending data will give insight into the nation’s recovery.

Reckitt Benckiser spins off its pharmaceutical unit. The consumer goods giant behind Durex condoms and Lysol cleaner is expected to detail plans to create a separate company for its US-based drug unit, rather than sell it or pursue an IPO, when it reports half-year results.

Shinzo Abe visits Latin America. The Japanese prime minister made a brief stop in Trini­dad and Toba­go this weekend on his way to Mexico, Colom­bia, Chile and Brazil, in an attempt to match the diplomatic maneuvers of China president Xi Jinping.

The First World War began a hundred years ago. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Nations across Europe will begin the marking the centenary. Britain is spending £50 million on four years of events and ceremonies.

It’s Eid al-Fitr. Sunday was declared the last day of Ramadan—both in North America, which uses astronomical calculations, and in Middle Eastern countries, which use the phases of the moon.

Over the weekend

McDonald’s China meat supplier issued a total recall. The US-based owner of Shanghai Husi, the processor that sold expired meat, recalled all products from its Shanghai factory. Some McDonald’s outlets in Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities are only serving fries and drinks until a new supplier can be found.

Palestinians in Gaza had only a brief respite. A 12-hour Israeli ceasefire ended after continued rocket attacks from Hamas. The militant group then declared its own ceasefire, which Israel refused to recognize. More than 1,000 people have died in the nearly three-week conflict.

The US pointed a finger at Russia. Washington released satellite photos that it said show Russian artillery firing across the border at the Ukrainian forces battling separatist rebels. The fighting has prevented foreign investigators from accessing the MH17 crash site.

Boko Haram abducted the Cameroonian deputy prime minister’s wife. A local religious leader and the mayor were also abducted from a border town. The terrorist group has increased attacks in Cameroon in recent weeks, after its army was deployed to fight the Nigeria-based militants.

GlaxoSmithKline is mulling a breakup… Its CEO said the UK’s biggest drugmaker might split its consumer healthcare business, which is relaunching next year as a joint venture with Novartis, from its main pharmaceutical unit (paywall)—the latest move in an ongoing reshuffle of the drug industry.

…And Danone may sell its baby food business. The French consumer group is discussing the $5 billion sale of its medical nutrition unit (paywall) to Hospira, which would allow the US-based pharmaceutical company to move its tax-base to Europe.

Ebola killed a top Liberian doctor. Samuel Brisbane was one of the most prominent victims of the outbreak that has killed some 600 people in three countries; two US volunteer doctors have also been infected. The disease reached Nigeria on Friday via a sick airline passenger.

Quartz obsession interlude

Kabir Chibber on why Western tech giants shouldn’t worry about Chinese copycatting, but about what happens when it stops. “China’s near neighbor, South Korea, set the precedent for Chinese tech companies’ evolution. ‘In a region of fast growth, since the 1960s Korea has increased its per-capita-GDP more quickly than any of its neighbors,’ the consultancy firm McKinsey notes. That’s also the period during which the country started to move from manufacturing high-end components for Western gadget makers to competing with them.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

If corporations are people, why can’t people be corporations? Rights harmonization should flow in both directions.

The Sixth Extinction is upon us. During the Fifth Extinction, the dinosaurs died out.

The US should legalize marijuana. So says the New York Times editorial board.

The BRICS have nothing in common. “Except that they are large, emerging, and not-the-US.”

Croatia is the next EU crisis country. Growth is stagnating (paywall) and reforms are going too slowly.

Surprising discoveries

Russia fixed its gecko sex satellite. Control has been restored and the geckos should be able to return to Earth safely.

Golf courses are banned in China. To get one built, developers have to label it a “resort.”

A robot is hitchhiking across Canada. Made from leftover junk, it will take selfies with anyone who gives it a ride.

It’s really hard to avoid flying over conflict zones. Steering clear of countries like Iraq makes for convoluted and expensive routes.

Up for 44 years, gone in 10 seconds. Watch the controlled destruction of a UK coal-fired power station.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, vagrant robot selfies, and zero-G gecko fan fiction to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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