Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Maliki’s next move, Russia’s Ukraine convoy, RIP Robin Williams, coffee adulterants

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What to watch for today

What’s Nouri al-Maliki’s next move? Iraqi legislators have nominated another Shi’ite politician, Haider al-Abadi, to replace the current prime minister, but Maliki is refusing to step down. The US says it wants Abadi to form a more inclusive government to combat ISIL militants.

Russia stealthily invades Ukraine. President Vladmir Putin sent an aid convoy of 280 trucks to Ukraine, but NATO warned they could be a cover for sending in troops to support embattled pro-Russian separatists. The NATO secretary general said there was a “high probability” of a Russian attack.

A bidding war goes bananas. Two Brazilian companies, Safra Group and Cutrale, made a $610.5 million spoiler bid for Chiquita Brands, which is trying to close a merger deal with Irish food group Fyffes. Chiquita said it would consider the counteroffer.

The EU tries to get Latin American countries on board with Russian sanctions. Moscow’s ban on US and EU food imports has caused excitement among countries like Brazil (paywall), which authorized 90 new plants to ship meat to Russia.

While you were sleeping

Robin Williams died. The 63-year-old actor and comedian was battling severe depression according to his publicist, and was found dead in his home after a suspected suicide. Here’s an obituary in the form of some of his best scenes.

More work for the miracle Ebola drug. Spain received the experimental serum ZMapp to treat a missionary who fell ill with the virus while in Liberia, but the priest died in a Spanish hospital. Liberiea will also receive a supply of the drug, but ZMapp’s manufacturer said its supply is now exhausted.

Investor confidence in Germany collapsed. A key gauge of investor sentiment in Germany plunged to its lowest level since 2012, an ominous sign from the largest economy in the euro zone.

Singapore and the Philippines benefitted from the global recovery. Singapore’s economy grew by a better-than-expected 1% in the three months to June on an annualized basis. Philippines exports surged by 21.3% in June versus a year ago, as electronics and semiconductors benefitted from higher global demand.

Tata Motors’ profit tripled. India’s biggest automaker surpassed analysts’ estimates as quarterly net income rose to $883 million, largely thanks to sales of Jaguar and Land Rover in China.

Google is looking for growth under the sea. The company will work with five Asian companies to fund a $300 million fiber-optic underwater cable connecting West Coast US cities to Japan.

Some 23 million Twitter users are bots. They may not necessarily be spam accounts, but they’re problematic for a company dependent on advertising.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on what the New York Times could have learned from South Africa’s Naspers. “[T]he lesson for legacy media companies (and any incumbent, in any industry) is still crystal clear. Transformation is possible, and diversification is wise… [T]here is no reason why the New York Times Company could not have achieved something similar to Naspers. Instead it spent billions actually increasing its exposure to print and on dubious investments in areas such real estate.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Silicon Valley has an Adderall problem. The tech industry should discourage the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Pedophiles should receive preventative treatment. If you’re a 16-year-old who doesn’t want to hurt anyone, what do you do?

The world will lose out if Hong Kong’s democracy is denied. China’s crackdown on autonomy violates an international treaty.

Living in the moment is overrated. Subscribing to the “modern cult of spontaneity” precludes you from helping yourself and others.

Suicide is contagious. News coverage can make things worse after high-profile deaths, so it’s better to talk about prevention.

Surprising discoveries

Your pricey coffee may be adulterated. Cheap filler ingredients like potato flour and corn can be detected with a new lab test.

This insect can turn you vegetarian. bite from the lone star tick makes humans allergic to red meat.

UK sheep rustling is on the rise. Ambitious thieves are taking as many as 150 at a time.

Samsung’s plans to reinvent itself includes less binge drinking. The “1-1-9” rule means after work sessions are limited to one venue, one type of alcohol, and 9pm last orders.

ISIL doesn’t like Carlsberg beer. Affiliates of the group in Malaysia reportedly targeted one of its breweries for attack.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, missing sheep, and defenses of spontaneity to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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