Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Euro zone malaise, Islamabad protests, Walmart earnings, salmon cannons

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What to watch for today

Can Israel and Hamas hold their fire? The two sides reached a deal on Wednesday for a new five-day truce, but rockets were launched from Gaza shortly before the previous ceasefire expired, and Israel retaliated with air strikes.

JC Penney and Walmart release earnings. JC Penney reported a 6% rise in sales in the previous quarter after a failed attempt to become more upscale, but it may not do so well this time. Walmart has suffered five straight quarters of same-store sales declines.

Major hedge funds and investment firms report holdings. Expect reports from Berkshire Hathaway, Greenlight Capital, Third Point LLC, and Pershing Square Capital Management, whose founder, Bill Ackman, wants to take his $15 billion fund public.

Pakistan’s capital is on lockdown. Opposition leaders Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri are leading a million-person march on Islamabad to demand the resignation of prime minister Nawaz Sharif. They claim the May 2013 elections were rigged, and a confrontation between police and protestors looks likely.

Another day of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Violence erupted for a fourth straight night on Wednesday after the killing of an unarmed black youth by police. Some protesters threw Molotov cocktails at militarized riot police, who used tear gas on the irate crowd.

While you were sleeping

The euro zone ground to a halt. Second-quarter GDP growth was flat as the German economy shrank and French growth was stagnant, in what analysts at BNP Paribas dubbed a “double ouch” for the monetary union.

A rate cut in South Korea. The central bank cut its benchmark rate to 2.25% from 2.5%, lowering borrowing costs to lend a hand to the government’s stimulus policies.

Audi is paying up in China. An influential Chinese newspaper reported that the German automaker will be fined $40 million for violating anti-monopoly laws, part of Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on foreign companies.

The world’s biggest PC maker got bigger. China’s Lenovo Group beat estimates with a 23% rise in profit in the three months to June.

China Mobile’s profits fell a bit. But the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers still posted a better-than-expected net income of $5.3 billion. The company is building the world’s biggest 4G network in hopes of boosting data revenues, as its text-message business loses out to free apps like WeChat.

GE’s appliance sale advanced. Stockholm-based Electrolux and crowd-sourced manufacturer Quirky are both looking to buy GE’s home appliance division, which could fetch as much as $2 billion.

The US said a Yazidi rescue mission probably won’t be necessary. The Pentagon was considering an operation to evacuate refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, but US airstrikes and Kurdish fighters have broken the ISIL siege. Separately, France said it would start arming Kurdish forces.

Quartz obsession interlude

Bobby Ghosh provides a short history of the terrorists who call themselves the “Islamic State.” “The group began over two decades ago as a fervid fantasy in the mind of a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A onetime street thug, he arrived in Afghanistan as a mujahideen wannabe in 1989, a year too late to fight the Soviet Union. He went back home to Jordan, and remained a fringe figure in the international violent ‘jihad’ for much of the following decade. He returned to Afghanistan to set up a training camp for terrorists, and met Osama bin Laden in 1999, but chose not to join al-Qaeda.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Social media has given black people in Ferguson a voice. The revolution isn’t televised; it’s Vined.

All the myths are fit to print. Front page stories fit into seven archetypes to help readers understand complex topics.

Politeness pays endless dividends. When people tell you their jobs, say, “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Secure buildings don’t have to be ugly. US embassies could have both high security and good design.

Using experimental Ebola drugs is wrong. Even if there were enough doses, it would slow progress toward finding a cure.

Surprising discoveries

A salmon cannon can launch 40 fish a minute. It helps them circumvent dams as they migrate upstream.

Your selfies have been commodified. New software tries to sell you products based on what’s in the background.

The last of Madonna’s “Vogue” icons is dead. Lauren Bacall had been the sole survivor; she wanted to be reincarnated as fellow “Vogue” legend Fred Astaire.

Daimler employees rest easy on vacation. They can opt to have all incoming emails deleted while they’re at the beach.

Dance-happy millennials are saving the music industry. Drugs are often involved.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, seafood projectile devices, and EDM that sounds good even if you’re sober to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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