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Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—California quake, Scotland debate, Ebola spreads, pizza perfection

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

California is picking up after a quake. A 6.0 magnitude earthquake jolted California’s wine country at 3:20am local time today, the largest to rattle the region since 1989. So far, no deaths are reported, though it caused an estimated $1 billion in damage, and some 90 people are in the hospital. 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 campaign against Hamas’s military wing. The prime minister told Gazan residents to get out of the way. On Sunday Israel killed another Hamas leader, bringing the toll to four senior members of the organization killed in the past week.

Scotland’s boring independence debate. The former British chancellor, Alistair Darling, has been urged to “keep it boring” in a final televised debate against Scottish first minister Alex Salmond over Scottish independence today. The first debate was a shouting match that neither side won. More voters believe Scotland should remain part of Britain than become independent, recent polls shows.

China’s main legislative body will debate electoral reform for Hong Kong. The National People’s Congress’s standing committee begins discussions today about the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive. Right now a committee chooses candidates, but pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong want the public (paywall) to nominate candidates, and are willing to withstand teargas to protest this right.

Over the weekend

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.

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. Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko announced an additional $3 billion in military spending in response to a “constant military threat.”

No ransom for an American hostage in Syria. The US says it paid no money to release Peter Theo Curtis, an American journalist kidnapped nearly two years ago in Syria who was freed Sunday. He was being held by Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda offshoot. A memorial service was held Sunday for slain journalist James Foley in his New Hampshire hometown (paywall).

Hackers attacked Sony. On Sunday Sony’s online PlayStation Network went down after being swarmed by “artificially high traffic.” On Twitter, a group called Lizard Squad claimed responsibility, and also said there were explosives on the airplane carrying Sony Online Entertainment head John Smedley. The airplane was diverted and searched. Videogame playing will resume only when the “bombing of ISIL stops,” Lizard Squad said. The entire thing may be a sick joke.

Malaysia Airlines may lay off one-fifth of its staff. The national carrier is considering cutting 3,000 to 4,000 of its roughly 20,000 jobs, canceling some aircraft orders and shutting down some routes, sources told Bloomberg. The government is working on a restructuring plan for the airline after two fatal disasters this year.

Roche made a hefty purchase. The Swiss pharma company will buy biotech firm InterMune for $8.3 billion, a 38% premium to InterMune’s stock price Aug. 22. InterMune developed a medicine for a rare lung disease, and Roche’s purchase is part of  big pharma’s push into drugs for rare and previously untreatable conditions (paywall).

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 security code delivered by text message, as with other Indian credit-card transactions.

Richard Attenborough, director of “Gandhi” and other classic films, dies at 90. An actor, director and producer, his career spanned 74 years. His 1982 biopic of Mahatma Gandhi won eight Oscars and was one of his greatest achievements, but he was most familiar to moviegoers for his recurring role in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park trilogy.

The takeaway from Jackson Hole. The annual conclave of global economic policymakers is over. Fed chair Janet Yellen raised more questions than answers: The US job market is still weak, she suggested, but demographics and other structural issues make it hard to assess what’s really going on. The ECB’s Mario Draghi urged European governments to embrace more fiscal stimulus to spur growth.

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

E-mail is killing us. For many, late evenings doesn’t mean time off work, they are 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.

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

Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart aren’t so liberal. Their guests “more closely resemble a GOP national convention” than they do the liberal idea of a diverse and equitable America.

Surprising discoveries

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

Ask more for advice. People will think you’re smarter if you do.

Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day. Next time a breakfast evangelist insists it is tell them, “If you like breakfast so much, why don’t you marry it?

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

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