Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Pistorius guilty verdict, Uber carpooling illegal, Scotland “No” leads, camel leotards

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What to watch for today

More sanctions against Russia. The US will join the EU in imposing a new set of measures to punish Moscow for its provocative actions in Ukraine. The US sanctions are expected to target Russia’s financial, energy, and defense industries, and the EU’s measures—previously approved, but now actually enacted—focus on curbing Russian oil production and exploration.

Double data from the US. Retail sales could see a boost thanks to the back-to-school shopping season, after falling flat in recent months. Consumer sentiment figures could also climb.

Olive Garden’s earnings. Parent company Darden Restaurants will report first-quarter results (paywall) before markets open in the US. Activist investor Starboard Value LP is pushing for a total overhaul of the company’s board.

A big solar flare hits Earth. Power grids and satellite transmissions may experience irregularities, but there will be an upside: the aurora borealis will expand. Residents of northern New England, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest should have a good view.

While you were sleeping

Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide. A judge ruled that the South African sprinter known as “Bladerunner” killed his girlfriend accidentally, but acted negligently: “A reasonable person, with a similar disability, would have foreseen that the person behind the door would be killed, and the accused failed to take action to avoid this.”

Uber and Lyft’s carpooling scheme was ruled illegal in California. The state’s public utilities commission ruled that the start-ups can’t charge individuals for a shared ride under the complicated laws regulating car services. As Recode notes, the bitter rivals are known for acting first and dealing with regulations later.

Scotland swung back toward a “No” vote. A new YouGov poll showed supporters of maintaining the union have regained a 52-48% lead.

Russia’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate untouched. The need to support the stagnant economy trumped pressure to stem rising inflation, which has been caused in part by Russia’s ban on Western food imports.

Hewlett-Packard bought into the cloud. The world’s second-largest seller of server computers will pay “less than $100 million” for California-based Eucalyptus Systems, according to Bloomberg.

A prisoner exchange in Ukraine. Government and rebel forces gave up more than a dozen prisoners each as part of a tenuous ceasefire agreement. Rocket fire was heard from Donetsk soon after the swap had ended, putting the truce in doubt.

Big donations for Ebola research. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen committed $9 million to fight against the disease that’s ravaging West Africa. Earlier this week fellow co-founder Bill Gates pledged $50 million to beat the disease.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on how the internet is getting too big for just one kind of Wi-Fi. “Wi-Fi has come a long way from its first tentative steps in the 1990s. Over the years, as new specifications have come along, the speed at which data can be transferred over the air has increased more than 1,000-fold. It now blankets universities, Starbucks coffee shops and, in some cases, entire cities. But it needs to evolve to as the Internet evolves.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Banks should offer lottery tickets. “Prize-linked accounts” encourage the poor to save more.

Thursday nights could make or break TV. It’s the evening that advertisers will pay the most for, in order to drive weekend box office sales.

Obama’s plan for IS is a spectacular failure… His attempts to destroy the militant group will only make it stronger.

…So is China’s global mining strategy. Beijing’s attempt to secure natural resources (paywall) has had a measly 20% success rate.

The US should let Russia take over eastern Ukraine. It could learn from the pragmatic choices the British Empire made in the 19th century.

Surprising discoveries

Russian smugglers are evading Putin’s Western food ban. Introducing “Parmigiano-Belorussiano“ cheese.

Grandmaster Flash seems to be dominating Facebook. It’s actually grandmas failing to comprehend auto-tag suggestions.

You can do just fine with half your neurons missing. A Chinese woman is one of just nine known people born without a cerebellum.

There’s a jetpack for runners. It’s designed to help soldiers run a four-minute mile.

For the camel who has everything: a form-fitting leotard. A company is developing the garment to help prized animals race faster and stand taller.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Grandmaster Flash likes, and camel apparel designs to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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