Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Greek talks resume, McDonald’s’ Taiwan exit, satellite internet race, heckling Obama

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What to watch for today

Greece goes another round with its creditors. A late-night session on Wednesday failed to produce a solution to Greece’s looming default. The country’s creditors are set to reconvene talks with Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras around midday in Brussels.

A Petrobras lawsuit hearing kicks off. The Brazilian state-run oil giant faces a class-action lawsuit from investors, including US pension funds, who are seeking damages in the wake of a massive bribery scheme that erased $60 billion from the company’s market capitalization. The case will be heard in New York.

North Korea and South Korea mark 65 years since the outbreak of war. The exact death toll from the Korean War remains uncertain, but it is well into the millions. While fighting ended after three years, the countries are technically at war, with tensions perpetually running high.

Corporate earnings on tap. Nike, Accenture, Barnes & Noble, and Micron Technology are among the companies releasing their quarterly numbers.

While you were sleeping

Aung San Suu Kyi was blocked from the presidency. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition leader has been barred by the parliament in Myanmar, also known as Burma, from running for the country’s top post.

H&M met earnings expectations. The world’s second-largest fashion retailer reported a fiscal second-quarter profit of 8.4 billion Swedish krona ($1 billion), up from 7.6 billion krona a year earlier. H&M added that June sales are already looking healthy (paywall) and the company plans to launch a line of beauty products later this year.

McDonald’s announced a Taiwan exit. The global burger chain is looking for a single buyer for all 413 of its restaurants in the country, according to Reuters. McDonald’s is cutting its costs worldwide and attempting to right its image in China; CEO Steve Easterbrook has said it plans to increase franchise ownership to 90%, from 81% currently.

South Korea cut its GDP forecast. Economic growth will be 3.1% this year (paywall), lower than a previous estimate of 3.8%, the finance ministry said. The lower forecast, which matches the central bank’s existing estimate, is part of the ongoing fallout from the MERS outbreak, which has seen tourists and business avoiding South Korea.

ISIL re-entered Kobane. Several people died in fighting in the key Syria-Turkey border town, which had been controlled by Kurdish forces since January. Islamic State militants lost a fierce battle for the town last year, after trying to capture it for four months.

Takata said its airbag investigation is progressing slowly. Shigehisa Takada, CEO of the company that produces airbags connected to eight deaths and scores of injuries, told shareholders the “analysis isn’t progressing very well.” Takada refused to comment further during the annual meeting; millions of cars have so far been recalled over an issue with the airbags that appear to inflate too quickly.

A US demographic milestone was announced. Ethnic minority children under five years old outnumbered non-hispanic white children for the first time last year, according to a Census Bureau report. That data comes soon after a separate report estimating that non-white hispanics will account for less than 50% of the US population in 2044 (pdf).

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on the race to create the next generation of satellite internet. “Is the sky big enough for two multi-billion-dollar satellite internet projects? … Greg Wyler’s OneWeb and Elon Musk’s SpaceX both say that within the next three years they will build, launch, and operate hundreds, if not thousands, of satellites flying in a low orbit around Earth.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Taylor Swift is a hypocrite. Despite her Apple Music stand, she requires photographers at her events to give her their images for use for free, forever.

People should treat the Confederate flag more like the swastika… Neither symbol deserves to be honored in today’s world.

…but banishing the Confederate flag could actually increase its power. Making it taboo may elevate its status as an outsider symbol.

Companies are like feudal states, and that should change. So says Holacracy advocate Brian Robertson.

Russia isn’t actually that important to China. It was only the country’s ninth-biggest trading partner last year.

Surprising discoveries

Italy has a third-century statue devoted to snark. For centuries, it has been a message board for people who want to say nasty things about someone else.

Vitamin B12 may have caused your acne. Scientists discovered a link, which might lead to a cure.

Barack Obama put a White House heckler in his place. ”You’re in my house” was one response.

Pyongyang has a new airport. The gleaming glass-fronted structure has espresso, beer, and chocolates but not many passengers.

There are more obese Americans than there are overweight Americans. The problem is getting worse.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, presidential put-downs, and directions to the lounges at North Korea’s new airport to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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