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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—China services plummet, Gaza war wind-down, Google’s CEO camp, South Korean cyborgs

What to watch for today

The Gaza war may be winding down. A 72-hour ceasefire brokered by Egypt begins at 8am local time. Though the last truce quickly broke down, Israel says it has only a few Hamas tunnels left to destroy and is prepared to withdraw its forces from Gaza. Some 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have died in the fighting.

Russian troops are massing on the Ukraine border. The government in Kiev has made gains against pro-Russian separatists, but in response Moscow has built up a battle-ready force of about 20,000 troops that could cross the border with little or no warning, the New York Times reports, citing anonymous Western officials.

Moguls and celebrities attend “Google Camp.” The tech firm’s version of the Davos confab kicks off at a resort in Sicily. Attendees include Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Comcast’s Brian Roberts.

Time Inc. and Disney earnings. Disney is set to see profits soar thanks to “Frozen”-related sales and broadcasts of the FIFA World Cup on ESPN. Time Inc., the US’s largest magazine publisher, is scheduled to report for the first time as a standalone company, as its share price climbs on rumors it might be bought.

A TV debate that could decide Scotland’s future. Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond takes on Alistair Darling, the former British chancellor of the exchequer, in a debate over Scottish secession that could sway the direction of the September referendum.

While you were sleeping

A pork IPO made a sizzling debut. Shares of China’s WH Group, which bought US-based Smithfield Foods last year, opened up 9.8% from its opening price in Hong Kong. The company raised $2 billion in its second attempt at an IPO.

China’s service sector plummeted. The HSBC Markit services purchasing managers index fell to 50.0 in July—exactly at the midpoint between expansion and contraction—from 53.1 in June. China’s factory sector is benefitting from an expanded government stimulus, but the new data suggest the economy is still struggling.

GM was subpoenaed—not for recalls, but auto loans. US prosecutors are investigating the besieged automaker for fraud over subprime loans it has made and securitized since 2007. 

Some good Ebola news. US health officials think a patient who turned up with Ebola-like symptoms in New York probably doesn’t have the disease, and an experimental drug flown into Liberia to treat the two infected American missionary workers appears to be working.

Syria’s civil war spilled into Lebanon. The Lebanese army lost 14 soldiers (paywall) in an attempt to retake the northeastern border Sunni town of Arsal from Syrian rebels associated with the Islamic State, who captured it over the weekend.

A site for the world’s first commercial spaceport. Elon Musk’s SpaceX will build the facility outside of Brownsville, a poor Texas town near the US-Mexico border.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on English soccer team Manchester United battling it out on the pitch and in the stock market.  “The club’s controlling shareholders, the Glazer family (which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL franchise), are taking advantage of a recent uptick in the stock price, fueled by the signing of lucrative commercial deals and the appointment of a new manager, to unload some of their holdings. This week, they plan to sell about 5% of the company for more than $100 million in proceeds, while maintaining their controlling stake.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The internet is doing Venn diagrams wrong. Honor John Venn’s birthday by disavowing these nonsensical misrepresentations.

The Middle East created after World War I is unravelling. France and Britain drew up unsustainable borders in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Abenomics is working for Japanese women. They’re now more likely to be part of the workforce (paywall) than women in the US.

Facebook’s experimentation on its users is nothing new. Do you think supermarkets are laid out by accident?

Venture-capital funding can be toxic for startups. It’s distracting, burdensome, dilutive, and doesn’t help that much.

Surprising discoveries

Charles Dickens’ walks were just as important as his writing sessions. Science says you should leave work for a walk at 2 pm.

Finally, a pro-gun children’s book. “My Parents Open Carry” follow a 13-year-old and her handgun-toting mom and dad.

A hotel fines newlyweds $500 for every online negative review. The policy is clearly laid out on its website.

Cyborgs are working in a South Korean shipyard. Workers using ”wearable robotics” can lift massive objects without breaking a sweat.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, proper Venn diagrams, and Dickensian walking strategies to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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