Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—More American spying, Yahoo’s Alibaba update, Russia’s oil boost, airline snack rage

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What to watch for today

Yahoo’s Alibaba spin-off update. Marissa Mayer faces more questions from shareholders about the creation of a new company to house Yahoo’s $33 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The US government plans to change how it taxes such transactions, though Mayer claims Yahoo’s spin-off will not be affected.

Fiat Chrysler launches a new Alfa Romeo range. The debt-laden automaker is counting on its century-old Alfa Romeo brand to compete against German rivals BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. It’s also pursuing a possible merger with General Motors.

NATO gets together. Defense secretaries meet in Brussels to discuss Russian threats in eastern Europe. The US plans to send heavy weapons to the area to deter aggression by Vladimir Putin.

Europe and Greece near a deal. Policymakers seem to finally realize the cost of derailing a long-awaited economic recovery.

Monsanto reports earnings. Analysts are forecasting a 27% increase in quarterly earnings per share for the US seed and chemical company, which is doggedly pursuing a takeover of Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta. Monsanto executives say they are also considering going after Germany’s Bayer AG.

While you were sleeping

The US’s French espionage was exposed. Whistleblower website Wikileaks has reported that the US’s National Security Agency tapped presidential communications between 2006 and 2012, as well as that of senior ministers and the French ambassador to the US. Current president Francois Hollande has called a defense council meeting to discuss a response.

Chinese consumer sentiment ticked up. The Westpac index rose 1.1% in June to 112.3 (paywall), after not moving for two months. That’s a sign that consumers are adjusting to lower growth and that central bank stimulus measures are working; the figure for June is only marginally lower than the 12-month average of 112.4.

Ebay and Amazon banned sales of Confederate flag merchandise. The online retailers’ decisions follow similar moves by brick-and-mortar stores, which removed the flag after last week’s massacre in South Carolina. The flag, considered by many to be a symbol of racism and oppression, may also soon come down from the South Carolina statehouse.

Russia dethroned Saudi Arabia as China’s top oil supplier. Russia sent almost 930,000 barrels a day to China in May, a 21% rise from April. Analysts said the surge was attributable to oil-for-loan deals that China has signed with Russian oil producers.

Sysco’s US Foods takeover was blocked. The US-based food giant’s $3.5 billion bid for its rival was scuppered by the Federal Trade Commission, which ruled that a merger would eliminate competition between the two companies that dominate the industry. The companies had argued that customers would benefit from $1 billion in savings, should the merger be allowed.

Boeing got a new CEO. Chief operating officer Dennis Muilenburg will succeed W. James McNerney (paywall), who has reached the aerospace giant’s mandatory retirement age of 65. McNerney will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zach Seward introduces Atlas, Quartz’s new platform for charts. “We’re calling this Atlas because, while once atlases were used to figure out where everything was, the way we understand the world now is with data… You can now download the data behind our charts, embed our charts elsewhere on the web, grab an image of our charts, and of course share our charts on social media.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t fear the eradication of work. If robots mean jobs become scarce, we may actually find ourselves training for jobs we like, not just those that pay.

Amazon could be changing the way authors write books. Paying writers by the page read could lead to plenty of padding.

The Confederate flag should not come down because it’s offensive. It should come down because it is embarrassing to all Americans.

Cities should just say “no” to the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee leaves a mess wherever it goes.

Slack’s days of fun are nearly over. The office chat software needs to meet strict reporting requirements to serve financial industry clients.

Surprising discoveries

A doctor applied a health warning to skinny jeans. A woman lost feeling in her feet after wearing the constricting denim pants.

The US Navy is really attached to Windows XP. It’s paying Microsoft millions per year to support the obsolete operating system.

For sale: the world’s largest plot of land. An Australian cattle dynasty is seeking $325 million for 23,000 square km (8,880 square miles).

A passenger’s demand for snacks forced a massive travel delay. The United Airlines passenger wanted unlimited nuts and crackers.

Linkin Park runs a venture capital fund. The band created a diversification strategy with the help of Harvard Business School.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, skinny jean ailments, and rock band VC strategies  to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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