Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Apple’s big reveal, MH17 crash report, Google vs EU, London’s billboard cake

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Apple’s big reveal. At today’s event in California, expect Apple to unveil new larger-screened iPhones, some sort of wearable device, and a new mobile-payments system that some say could kill credit cards. Here’s our detailed breakdown of the structure of an Apple keynote, including how to watch and when to expect the big reveals.

The Fed lays out new bank capital rules. Daniel Tarullo, a member of the US central bank’s board of governors, will tell Congress that banks will have to meet even stricter standards for capital requirements than those in the international Basel III accord.

The US moves against the Islamic State. Secretary of state John Kerry travels to the Middle East to meet with regional leaders, while US officials say they are close to identifying the British-accented man who executed journalist James Foley. President Barack Obama will tell congressional leaders his plan for fighting IS could take three years (paywall).

More middling news from US small businesses. The National Federation of Small Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index for August will likely show a small positive change in business sentiment, but analysts are not expecting to be more pleasantly surprised until September.

While you were sleeping

The Netherlands released a report on flight MH17. The Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in Ukraine broke into pieces in the air after it was damaged by “high energy” objects, according to a report from the Dutch Safety Board, which is leading an inquiry into the disaster. The first official report to be published about the crash did not assign blame for the crash.

Google’s EU antitrust deal is looking shaky. Regulators want Google to amend a preliminary deal and is now pushing the company to make deeper changes to its search algorithm to give competing services a higher billing. The EU has also begun a preliminary investigation of Google’s Android smartphone operating system.

Greenhouse gases hit an all-time high. In particular, levels of carbon dioxide grew at the fastest rate ever in 2013, according to the World Meteorological Organization, reaching 396 parts per million, up 2.9 ppm from 2012. “Pleading ignorance can no longer be an excuse for not acting,” said WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud.

Uzbekistan’s dictator is pursuing a criminal case against his eccentric daughter. President Islam Karimov’s jet-setting daughter, Gulnara, was named as a suspect in a case of extortion, blackmail, and corruption—a move that could neutralize her as a future political threat.

IKEA assembled a sturdy quarter. Sales for the year ending August were up 5.9% at €28.7 billion ($37 billion), while like-for-like sales rose 3.6%. China is the company’s fastest-growing market, but the world’s biggest furniture retailer said the US and Europe were also performing well.

A Japanese e-commerce giant made further inroads into the US. Rakuten, which has already bought online retailers and, has now purchased Ebates, the company behind, in a deal worth $1 billion. The deal is part of a wave of global investments made by Japanese companies hoping for overseas growth.

General Mills bought Annie’s for $820 million. The maker of Cheerios and Yoplait will offer $46 a share in cash to holders of the organic and natural foods company—a 37% premium over Monday’s closing price. Organic brands are seen as an opportunity for large food companies faced with sluggish growth prospects.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on how Americans’ love of junk food may be good for the environment. “The fondness for fat and sugar that’s making more and more Americans sick has a strange upside: It creates fewer greenhouse gases (GHG) than a healthy diet does. In fact, if the average American were to swap his current diet for the menu recommended by the USDA, the country would produce 12% more greenhouse gases than it does now, according to a new study.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Dismiss Ben Bernanke at your peril. His bond-buying program earned $1 trillion for those who believed in the former Fed chairman.

The culture wars have infiltrated American sports. Sexism, racism, and homophobia are now the focus instead of winners and losers.

Reddit is a failed state. The wildly popular website fell short in its handling of leaked celebrity photos.

Fracking is worse than coal. Extracting shale gas releases so much methane that it may outweigh the benefits of cleaner-burning fuel.

Surprising discoveries

Google perks are so good employees don’t need to pay rent. One worker lived on-campus for years.

London had a billboard made of cake. It took seven hours to make, but the public ate it up.

A 3,000-year-old sword was found in China. A boy noticed it while washing his hands in a river.

Finland’s homoerotic postage stamps are a hit. People in 178 countries have already placed orders.

Animal fur can save your child from asthma. The microbes it contains can build resistance in newborn babies.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, homoerotic postage stamps, and comically large cakes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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