Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Denmark elections, Ramadan begins, Fitbit IPO, witches of Etsy

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What to watch for today

Denmark goes to the polls. Prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the first woman to run the country, is in a neck-and-neck race to keep her Social Democrat-led coalition in power.

Europe’s finance ministers wring their hands over Greece. They’ll try, and probably fail, to finalize an aid-for-reforms deal. Meanwhile, the ugly war of words continues.

Fitbit steps it up. The fitness-tracking device maker is poised to raise more than $600 million in its highly anticipated IPO, which would give it a valuation of about $3.7 billion.

Ramadan begins for many of the world’s Muslims. The closely watched moon-sighting committee in the United Arab Emirates announced that the holy Islamic month starts this morning. But many countries and territories have their own committees, and they don’t always agree.

The St. Petersburg Economic Forum kicks off. Under pressure from the United States, many Western business leaders are skipping the event.

While you were sleeping

A legendary US dealmaker died. James B. “Jimmy” Lee, the JPMorgan Chase banker behind mergers that redefined US industry over the past 20 years, died unexpectedly after running on a treadmill. He brokered the United-Continental airline merger, News Corp’s buyout of Dow Jones, and helped lead the Alibaba and Facebook IPOs.

AT&T was fined $100 million for putting sneaky limits on “unlimited” data plans. The US Federal Communications Commission ruled that the wireless provider misled customers by slowing download speeds to a crawl after subscribers passed certain data thresholds. AT&T vowed to contest the record-setting fine.

Property prices in China stopped their free fall. They’ve been deflating for nine months now, but in May they deflated at a slower pace. New home prices in 70 cities fell by an average 5.7% year-on-year last month. In March and April they had deflated at a record pace of -6.1%.

New Zealand’s economy slowed more than expected. The nation’s GDP expanded by just 0.2% quarter-on-quarter during the three months to June. Economists had pegged growth at 0.6%. It’s the slowest quarter in two years.

FedEx and Oracle delivered disappointing results. The shipping giant’s revenues came in at $12.1 billion, short of the $12.3 billion analysts were expecting. Oracle’s shares plunged after its revenues of $10.7 billion fell well short of consensus estimates.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenni Avins on the brand invading Gap’s global retail niche. “One needs only to glance inside a Uniqlo store in Manhattan—its flagship there claims to be Fifth Avenue’s biggest store—to see that there are still many customers for affordable, relatively undecorated clothing that flies stylishly under the radar. It’s just that increasingly, they’re probably buying that clothing at Uniqlo instead of Gap.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Facebook owns your face. The social network has detailed biometric data on its users, and is using it to create invasive new products.

You don’t have to boycott Nutella. Greenpeace says its use of palm oil is environmentally sustainable.

Rough-housing with Dad is good for kids. Fathers also tend to score well on a measure called “The Laughing Test” (paywall). 

The middle class can’t have much fun at Walt Disney theme parks. There’s no such thing as an affordable Disney vacation anymore.

Elaborately staged marriage proposals are the worst. Making a show of popping the question just proves you’re a narcissist.

Surprising discoveries

Cat videos are good for you. Watching clips of funny felines boosts energy and positive emotions.

Iceland’s Muslims have to fast for 21 hours. That’s how long a day lasts in far northern latitudes during Ramadan this year.

The witches of Etsy are unhappy. The online marketplace has banned the sale of magical spells.

Donald Trump is paying for support. The Trump for President campaign offered actors $50 to cheer when he said he would enter the 2016 race.

There are some new Mark Twain stories to read. A cache of the author’s early work was unearthed in California.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, medicinal cat videos, and hand-crafted spells to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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