Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—US and China talk, Greek bailout progress, Confederate flags, Napoleonic chicken

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What to watch for today

A US-China confab. US secretary of state John Kerry and treasury secretary Jacob Lew will discuss issues including trade, development, and hacking with Chinese officials at the seventh round of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington DC.

Frosty talks on the Ukraine conflict. An acrimonious pre-summit phone call means few smiles are expected at the meeting of foreign ministers from France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia, who will discuss the ceasefire between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. The EU voted Monday to extend sanctions against Russia.

A probe into those annoying airline fees. A US Department of Transportation committee will address the growing list of fees airlines charge their customers under mounting pressure from consumer groups, especially on change and cancellation fees.

Takata airbags come under American scrutiny. The company’s defective airbags, linked to at least eight deaths and hundreds of injuries, eventually led to millions of recalls globally. The US Senate Commerce Committee will ask regulators and car industry chiefs about the recall.

Earnings: BlackBerry, Carnival, Darden Restaurants, and IHS all report their results.

While you were sleeping

A glimmer of hope in the Greek bailout talks. Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said nice things about the Greek government’s latest reform proposals, sparking a late-day rally in Greek markets. European leaders met Monday evening in Brussels and there is some loose talk of a deal later this week.

US retailers took the Confederate flag off their shelves. Walmart and Kmart will no longer sell reproductions of the flag or any Confederate flag-themed paraphernalia. Scrutiny of the controversial flag has increased since a racially-motivated mass shooting last week. Meanwhile, Amazon reviewers have a lot to say about the company’s own flags for sale.

The euro zone private sector got a solid boost… Markit’s preliminary composite purchasing managers’ index rose to 54.1 in June, from 53.6 in May, its highest in four years and putting it well above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. The survey, which includes manufacturing and services sectors, showed hiring remained positive, but that firms were cutting their costs in order to attract business.

…while Asia’s was mixed. HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index for China’s manufacturing sector was 49.6 in June, up from a final 49.2 in May and above expectations of 49.4. That remains in contraction mode, however, for the fourth consecutive month; Japan’s PMI slipped from expansion to contraction.

US and UK spy agencies tried to hack Russian and Chinese anti-virus software. The US National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ, carried out reverse engineering attempts to track users of such software, according to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The revelations that the countries were spying on China will make for awkward conversation when the US and China meet today.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anne Quito on the legacy of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, famed for his cardboard buildings. ”Perhaps more than any architect in his generation, Ban, 57, best exemplifies the maxim, ‘it’s not what you use that matters, but how you use it.’ From churches made of paper tubes, to a nomadic museum constructed from shipping containers, Ban is a bricoleur, and a Macgyver-level improviser with building materials.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Brexit wouldn’t be a disaster for Britain’s economy. Those who think the UK should stay in Europe need a better argument.

High CEO pay is bad for the economy. It encourages company bosses to focus on short-term gains over long-term growth.

China is not a global military power. But its army could be a match for US forces in its own backyard.

There should be no shame in a double mastectomy. On life without breasts after a cancer diagnosis.

Taylor Swift is the music industry’s savior. Let’s hope she maintains the clout that forced Apple to change its mind in a day.

Surprising discoveries

A light aircraft pilot found an unexpected stowaway. Remember to check for cats before flying off.

Germany will ban sales of adult e-books between 6am and 10pm. It thinks that will prevent teens from getting hold of them.

There’s a diet that mimics fasting. All the health benefits of going without food, without going without food.

There are some 8 million mummified dogs in Egyptian catacombs. Some very, very old pooches.

Napoleon loved chicken. He demanded it at all hours of the day.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mummified pets, and Waterloo-themed KFC Bargain Buckets to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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