Quartz Daily Brief—NYSE shutdown, Microsoft layoffs, London tube strike, celebrities on Tinder

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What to watch for today

Will more Chinese stocks halt trading? The steep declines in Chinese stock prices are triggering margin calls from banks, which accepted shares as collateral for corporate loans. Ten percent of listed companies have received margin calls (link in Chinese), according to local Chinese media.

London deals with a hellish commute. The Tube’s worst strike in decades began last night, when some 20,000 transit union members walked out. Now millions of commuters will try to get to work on foot, bike, bus, and commuter train; the strike is due to run through the end of Thursday, local time.

Elementia SAB goes public. The Mexican cement company, co-owned by Carlos Slim and Antonio del Valle Ruiz, plans to raise roughly 4.5 billion pesos ($290 million) in its initial public offering. It’s Mexico’s first cement IPO in more than 15 years.

Pepsi and Walgreens Boots report earnings. The global beverage and snack food giant is expected to report lower revenue and profit figures as US soda consumption declines, but its shares have still outpaced rival Coca-Cola. Walgreens Boots, still adjusting post-merger, is expected to post a 4% decline in quarterly earnings per share.

While you were sleeping

A technical glitch shut down the New York Stock Exchange… The NYSE abruptly halted trading shortly before noon local time due to an “internal technical issue.” Officials said the outage, which ended after about four hours, was not due to a cyber attack.

…And another one grounded United Airlines. Starting around 7:30 am ET, US passengers were unable to check in for their flights, and all United planes not currently in the air were grounded. The airline, which called this “a network connectivity issue,” experienced a similar failure on June 2. 

Microsoft cut 7,800 jobs. Most of the eliminated positions are related to the company’s Nokia mobile phone acquisition. Microsoft will also write down $7.6 billion related to the deal—one of former CEO Steve Ballmer’s last big plays—which increasingly looks like a mistake.

Greece made minor progress with its creditors. The prime minister officially requested a three-year bailout from the euro zone’s rescue fund and promised to come up with “concrete” policy changes by early next week. Some euro zone leaders also began discussing ways to reduce Greece’s debt burden.

Boko Haram offered to trade kidnapped girls for government detainees. The victims of the 2014 kidnapping that sparked the global “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign are on the proverbial negotiating table, according to an Associated Press source. The Nigerian extremist group is reprising the offer it made to former president Goodluck Jonathan last year, to trade 219 school girls for 16 Boko Haram detainees.

Quartz obsession interlude

Anne Quito on how South Sudan, the world’s newest country, designed its coins. “The chosen motif on the obverse (or “heads”) of the copper-plated steel 10-piaster coin has been particularly controversial. … The desert oil drilling rig motif chosen to represent the Greater Upper Nile region, adapted from the Unity State emblem, has raised issues.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Work-life balance is overrated. Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson argues that imbalance leads to innovation.

Germany should stop playing nice with the US. There’s no good reason to tolerate surveillance and espionage from an ally.

Using Adderall leads to an inauthentic life. The stimulant enhances activities we would otherwise find meaningless.

Robots could save the humanities. Machines can’t compete with humans in literature, arts, and philosophy.

Deal or no deal, Iran will continue dealing with terrorists. Western attempts to break “old habits” are doomed to failure.

Surprising discoveries

Celebrities are getting verified on Tinder. Now you can be left-swiped by your favorite movie star.

Pluto is red. New up-close photos from a NASA probe show that the dwarf planet looks a bit like Mars.

Fear of spaceships led to France’s weirdest wine law. A village banned flying saucers from the airspace above vineyards.

Tortillas can be played like LPs. But stick with vinyl if you prefer sound quality over deliciousness.

We are made of “nanomachines.” Our cells have trillions of sophisticated little engines that carry out vital functions.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, South Sudanese coinage, and UFO-free wine to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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