Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Greece on the brink, Chinese stocks plunge, polyphasic sleep, stress-relieving pickles

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What to watch for today

Greece gets a lifeline? The European Central Bank holds an emergency meeting to decide whether to boost crucial liquidity support to Greek banks, which are leaking deposits as nervous savers drain their accounts. After euro finance ministers failed to agree on a new bailout deal yesterday, an emergency (there’s that word again) meeting of European leaders has been called for Monday, to “restore a dialogue with adults in the room,” as IMF chief Christine Lagarde put it.

Office Depot attaches itself to Staples. Shareholders of America’s second-largest office supply company will vote on a merger with larger rival Staples. The merger, first announced in February, has been approved by regulators in China and New Zealand but is still under review in Australia, Europe, Canada, and the United States.

A wake-up call on the world’s coffee supply. The US department of agriculture will release its semi-annual report on global production and demand for the beloved caffeine-bearing beans.

Car dealers and home builders report earnings. CarMax and KB Home will publish their latest financial results.

While you were sleeping

China’s shares had their worst week since the financial crisis… Amid fears of a bubble, the Shanghai benchmark index plunged 6.42% today and has lost more than 13% on the week, marking the biggest weekly drop since June 2008. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Shenzhen Composite suffered its biggest one-day fall in two years.

…but business confidence is on the up. The MNI China Business Indicator rose 7.6% in June, to 53.5 (a reading above 50 suggests optimism). This was the highest level since January.

Danes voted for a change of government. With all ballots counted, incumbent prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt saw her center-left bloc lose to the center-right opposition led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who is expected to become the new prime minister. The far-right Danish People’s Party also made big gains, becoming the second-largest party in Denmark’s parliament.

The Bank of Japan maintained its record monetary stimulus. At the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Tokyo, Japan’s central bank said it will continue to expand the monetary base at an annual pace of 80 trillion yen ($650 billion).

An NRA director blamed the Charleston shooting deaths on an anti-gun pastor. In an online firearm forum, National Rifle Association board director Charles Cotton blamed the anti-gun stance of Clementa C. Pinckney—a state senator and the church’s slain pastor—for the loss of lives.

Quartz obsession interlude

Akshat Rathi on his experiment with polyphasic sleep. “With looming deadlines and an upcoming thesis defense, I was determined to find more hours to fit in work and study. The answer came from reading about the famous American inventor Buckminster Fuller, who, Time reported in 1943, spent two years sleeping only two hours a day. The method to achieving what seemed like a superhuman feat was called the Dymaxion sleeping schedule: four naps of 30 minutes taken every six hours.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Gun control in America is politically impossible. Mass shootings are so common now that they’re basically accepted.

Countries are supposed to spy on each other. That’s why the US can’t blame China for hacking government files.

Fitbit is a fad. Don’t be fooled by the outsized IPO.

Beware the listening machines inside your child’s toys. Systems like the one inside “Hello Barbie” are a nightmare of intrusive surveillance.

Asian tourism is too dependent on Chinese travelers. For their own good, cities need to attract a more diverse crowd.

Surprising discoveries

To reduce stress, eat pickles. People who snack on fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are less prone to social anxiety.

Kangaroos are mostly left-pawed. The phenomenon may explain the origin of human handedness.

Google is teaching its computers to hallucinate. Feedback loops in image recognition software produce some trippy results.

A mere 1% of Swedes work more than 50 hours per week. The rate is even lower in the Netherlands and Russia.

The original Jurassic Park theme has finally topped the charts. It earned the honor 22 years after its release.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, psychedelic search engines, and calming cornichons to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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