Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Putin provokes, Pakistan crisis deepens, Muji heads to India, skipping brunch

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Putin picks at the wound. Expect a response after the Russian president called for talks on “statehood” for the eastern part of Ukraine. He also said the country should negotiate directly with pro-Russian rebels. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said he would ask parliament to give up the country’s nonaligned status in order to seek membership with NATO.

German and Brazilian economic data arrive. Monday brings the final estimate of Germany’s quarterly GDP figures, ahead of a European Central Bank meeting this week and signs of deflation. And the latest Brazilian import and export reports will be released, days after it was confirmed Brazil is in recession.

Britain acts on homegrown jihadists. The UK is planning to announce measures to block British citizens fighting in Syria and Iraq from returning home, though they could keep their passports. More than 500 British fighters are estimated to be involved. One of three militants dubbed “the Beatles” is suspected of killing journalist James Foley.

Small islands, unite! The third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States begins in Apia, Samoa. Some 41 island nations will discuss sustainable development.

Pakistan’s political crisis deepens. Protestors tried to storm prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s home over the weekend, at least three people were killed, and 200 were injured as police fought the crowd with teargas and rubber bullets. Pakistan’s army said that they would not step in and that a political solution was necessary.

Over the weekend

No universal suffrage in Hong Kong. China has told Hong Kong its next leader will be selected via an election committee in 2017—dashing the aspirations of pro-democracy activists. On Sunday, Macau re-elected its chief executive similarly, in a vote where Fernando Chui was the only candidate. The process took 25 minutes. The Hong Kong decision raised a red flag for how Beijing might treat Taiwan.

You’re next, Saudi king warned the West. Jihadist attacks “will reach Europe in a month and America in another month” unless world leaders halt the ISIL, said Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. His words echo John Kerry’s call for a global military effort to confront the brutal militants who are sweeping through Iraq and Syria.

Modi began his Japan visit. The Indian prime minister arrived in Japan for a five-day visit on Saturday.  Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe plans to double Japan’s $2 billion investment in India in five years, and the two are expected to discuss a nuclear pact as well as a defense agreement. Muji will be Japan’s first retailer to enter the Indian market, the Nikkei business daily reports.

A new iPayments system? Maybe Apple and leading payment networks can do what Google hasn’t yet, and make consumers love the mobile wallet. Bloomberg reports that Apple will partner with Visa, AmEx and Mastercard in a new payment product that will be unveiled on Sept. 9, when the iPhone 6 is expected to debut.

Samsung will get bigger. South Korea’s giant conglomerate announced that Samsung Heavy, the group’s shipbuilding division, and Samsung Engineering, which includes refineries and industrial plants, would merge in December. The news caused shares for both to jump. The deal’s estimated value is $2.5 billion.

As Time Warner gives up on Vice, A&E enters the fray. Walt Disney and Hearst’s jointly-owned A&E Networks cable television group is nearing a deal (paywall) to buy 10% of Vice Media, the Financial Times reported. This comes hours after a New York Times report that Time Warner ended months of negotiations to acquire a stake in fast-growing Vice.

China’s economy slowed. The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell in August, coming in at 51.1, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, which is lower than a Bloomberg estimate of 51.2. The weak expansion suggests that economic momentum has dropped for the world’s second-largest economy

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Kirsten Narula on how Americans may soon find out that butter is a luxury. “The amount of butter stored in refrigerated warehouses across the US is 42% lower this summer than last, according to the USDA. On Aug. 29, butter futures reached an all-time high of $2.55 per pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t hire people for what they know. Instead, ask if they can learn to do the job.

Your IQ isn’t constant. It changes over time.

Brunch is a waste of time. And the people who brunch are often people who can’t really afford the time or the money.

Burma is carving out geopolitical leverage. In negotiations with China and India, it’s continuing a long-established tradition of balancing great powers.

Surprising discoveries

Spaniards haven’t swapped a lot of pesetas. They’ve kept 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion) worth.

Farming consumes 80% of the US’s freshwater. But it doesn’t have to—one urban farming experiment reduces water consumption by 98%.

Burma’s census showed its population at 51 million. That’s nine million less than last time.

Libraries don’t need books anymore. Not paper ones, anyway.

A South Florida condo development was called, ‘ISIS Downtown.’ The name has since been changed to something more benign.

Ikea catalogs mostly feature computer-generated imagery. Three-quarters of catalog objects are fake.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, butter stashes, and alternatives to brunch to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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