Quartz Daily Brief—California quake, Israel’s dilemmas, Tesla vs GM, pizza science

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

And hello world… again. Quartz just got a whole new look. Here’s our guide to what has changed. You might especially like our new homepage, led by the Brief, a sort of continually updated version of this newsletter. We hope you’ll check it out, spread the word, and let us know what you think.

What to watch for today

California picks up after a quake. A 6.0 magnitude earthquake jolted California’s wine country, the largest to rattle the region since 1989. No deaths have been reported, though some 120 people are in hospital and a lot of wine bottles are smashed. The area faces a 54% chance of a big aftershock in the next week.

A new ground war in Gaza? Israel’s defense minister hinted that the army might use more than airstrikes as it continues a targeted campaign against Hamas’s military wing. The  prime minister told Gazan residents to get out of the way.

The Bank of Israel mulls interest rates. A repeat of last month’s unexpected rate cut seems unlikely, but with growth slowing and tourist visits plummeting as a result of the Gaza offensive—and this after an already weak second quarter—there may be even more pressure on the bank to add stimulus.

Scotland’s boring independence debate. The former British chancellor, Alistair Darling, has been urged to “keep it boring”  in the second televised debate against Scottish first minister Alex Salmond over Scottish independence. The first round became a shouting match that neither side won.

Over the weekend

India threw a spoke in Uber’s wheels. The central bank closed a loophole that gave the online car service an edge over local radio-taxi companies. Uber customers paying by credit card must now also enter a code delivered by text message, as with other Indian credit-card transactions.

Ebola appeared outside West Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo said up to 13 people may have died from Ebola, in an outbreak apparently unrelated to the one ravaging West Africa. The first British healthcare worker who tested positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone landed in the UK for treatment.

Iceland’s volcano was all sound, no fury. Despite intensifying earthquakes, the country’s Civil Protection Agency walked back a previous announcement that Bardarbunga was about to blow. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of commercial flights and cost the global economy an estimated $5 billion.

Ukraine’s independence day was bittersweet. As the Ukrainian army paraded in Kyiv to celebrate liberation from the Soviet yoke, pro-Russian separatists in the east countered with a provocative anti-independence show of captured Ukrainian soldiers. President Petro Poroshenko announced an additional $3 billion in military spending in response to a “constant military threat.”

An American journalist in Syria was released. Peter Theo Curtis, kidnapped nearly two years ago, was freed. He had been held by Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda offshoot. He originally entered Syria via Turkey, which is now under growing pressure to tighten its border with Syria to stop militants on their way to join ISIL.

Quartz obsession interlude

Steve LeVine on the story of Elon Musk and GM’s race to build the first mass-market electric car. “The stakes are enormous. Most electrics have less than 100 miles of range. Experts regard 200 miles as a tipping point, enough to cure many potential electric-car buyers of “range anxiety,” the fear of being stranded when their battery expires. If GM and Tesla crack this, sales of individual electrics could jump from 2,000 or 3,000 vehicles a month to 15 to 20 times that rate, shaking up industries from cars to oil, which were until now certain that large-scale acceptance of electrics was perhaps decades away.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Email is killing us. For many, late evenings doesn’t mean time off work, it’s a time to channel our late-night email addiction.

Burning Man is now just a tech conference. And nobody should be surprised; the Nevada desert festival was built on the same impulses as Silicon Valley.

International trade deals aren’t that important. Most businesses don’t know about them or find them too complex to navigate.

The way to regulate drones is with zones. The equivalent of construction zoning laws for drones could safeguard privacy and safety while allowing room for innovation.

A really great marriage is rare. Getting people to realize that would let them make better choices about both marriage and divorce.

Sugar is a poison. It should be regulated like tobacco or alcohol.

Surprising discoveries

The scientific recipe for perfectly browned pizza. Researchers worked out why mozzarella browns so well and how to use other cheeses.

The complete guide to swearing at work. A judicious f-bomb has its uses.

A decapitated cobra head bit a chef who was cooking its body. It had already been cut off for 20 minutes.

Telling people they slept well makes them feel as if they did. Even if in fact they didn’t.

A young boy has now a 3D-printed vertebra. Surgeons in Beijing implanted the titanium piece in  a 12-year-old with bone cancer.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pizza pictures, and cobra-stew recipes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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