Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Murdoch and Sprint retreat, Apple-Samsung truce, EU comet rendezvous, Marvel’s female deficit

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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.

An explanation from Rupert Murdoch. The media mogul’s 21st Century Fox reports quarterly earnings the day after it withdrew an $80 billion Time 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.

The US trade deficit gets a World Cup kick. US broadcasters had to spend vast sums to televise the tournament, which are expected to help boost the deficit to $45 billion in June, from $44.4 billion in May. Bigger deficits (excluding petroleum) could also be a sign that US consumer demand is picking up.

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.

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 be too difficult to clear with antitrust regulators (paywall). Sprint is also replacing CEO Dan Hesse with Brightstar boss Marcelo Claure, according to Recode.

German factory orders plummeted. Contracts fell by 3.2% in June from the previous month, the biggest fall since September 2011, due to low euro zone demand and persistent geopolitical risks.

The UK property market took off again. House prices rose 10.2% in the three months to July, according to data from British mortgage lender Halifax—the fastest annual rise since the financial crisis.

Apple and Samsung signed a non-US peace treaty. The companies dropped all pending patent litigation against each other—except for cases within the United States, where court battles will continue for the time being. Experts expect a final licensing agreement between the two companies in the near future.

China tightened the screws on foreign companies. The country’s anti-trust regulator raided four of Microsoft’s offices and extended its investigation to the consulting firm Accenture, which works with the software firm in China. Officials also visited the Chinese offices of Daimler, which is under investigation for “monopolistic behavior,” along with Audi and Chrysler.

An EU spacecraft reached its celestial destination. The Rosetta craft arrived about 60 miles from a 2.5-mile-wide comet at about 5am EDT and will stay there for the next several months, tweeting all the while. In November it will launch a small landing craft that will actually touch down.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on the high-risk deal that 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

Samsung should give up selling phones. It should just sell parts to others instead.

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 heroic.

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 Saudis to marry non-Saudis. Men need the government’s consent to wed foreign women.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, comet landing devices, and female superhero screenplays to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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