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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Murdoch and Sprint retreat, Russia retaliates, banks’ living wills, EU comet rendezvous

What to watch for today

Russia strikes back. President Vladimir Putin had ordered a response to the latest wave of US and EU sanctions, but he only wants measures that avoid harming Russian consumers and the economy (paywall). Russia has already blocked Polish fruit and vegetables and may ban EU airlines from its airspace.

Rupert Murdoch explains why he backed down. The media mogul’s 21st Century Fox reports quarterly earnings the day after it withdrew an $80 billionTime Warner takeover bid (at least for now). Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes will also face a grilling from analysts for his decision to spurn the offer.

A humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Thousands of people from the minority Yazidi ethnic group are stranded on a mountaintop and encircled by Sunni militants. They are desperately short of water and other supplies.

An EU spacecraft arrives at its celestial destination. The Rosetta craft will hover about 60 miles from a 2.5-mile-wide comet for the next several months. In November it will launch a small landing craft that will actually touch down.

A $100 billion infrastructure fund for Africa. The US-Africa Leaders Summit is expected to unveil a fund to finance infrastructure projects, with a 50/50 contribution from African countries and the US. The US is well ahead of China in aid to Africa, but well behind it in trade (paywall).

While you were sleeping

Sprint abandoned its pursuit of T-Mobile. Sprint’s Japanese parent company Softbank concluded that combining the third- and fourth-largest US mobile carriers would have been too difficult to clear with antitrust regulators. Sprint is also replacing CEO Dan Hesse with Brightstar CEO Marcelo Claure, according to Recode.

A top US general in Afghanistan was killed. A man dressed in an Afghan army uniform killed Maj. Gen. Harold Greene and wounded 15 at a training academy on the outskirts of Kabul. Greene was the most senior American officer to die in combat since 1970.

A dollar store bidding war erupted. Consolidation in the US discount retail sector picked up speed with a report that Dollar General is looking to counter Dollar Tree’s $8.5 billion takeover offer for Family Dollar.

The US ordered banks to rewrite their “living wills.” Regulators told 11 of the biggest banks that their plans for an orderly wind-up in the event of bankruptcy—a new requirement intended to ward off the risk of another financial crisis—were “not credible.”

Apple’s announced its next iPhone launch. The company will hold a press conference on Sept. 9 to unveil the new model. Here’s what to look out for.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on the high-risk deal the state of Texas struck with SpaceX. “Spaceports can be a terrible business. Just ask Spaceport America, a Virgin Galactic project that the state of New Mexico has spent $250 million on since 2005—and has yet to see a single launch… [I]t’s not clear that there will be enough regular demand to bring a meaningful increase in visitors to the area. In other words, it looks like a boondoggle.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The developing world is becoming “Putinesque.” Democratic countries need to do a better job of leading by example.

In-flight mobile phone calls aren’t that bad. The US government, which is considering a ban, should stop pandering to haters.

Marvel needs to make a female superhero movie. The studio’s excuse—that it has too many franchises already—is less than super.

Thailand’s coup will lead to economic stagnation. Abandoning democracy will not improve the lives of ordinary Thais.

Surprising discoveries

China’s punishment for driving with your brights on is staring into a policeman’s headlights for five minutes.

Why windowless offices are the worst. People who work without natural light lose 46 minutes of sleep every night.

A bag of potato chips can be a listening device. The surface vibrations of everyday objects can be used to spy on conversations.

Why East Asians make V-signs in photos. Blame it on a figure skater, manga comics, and camera commercials.

It’s getting harder for Saudi men to marry out. They need the government’s consent to wed foreign women.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, V-sign selfies, and female superhero screenplays to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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