Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Cuban diplomacy, Greek banks reopen, Barclays staff cuts, paying in blood

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What to watch for today

Cuba and the US officially resume diplomatic relations. Their embassies will reopen for the first time since 1961, marking a new era of engagement for the long-time rivals. But tourists, especially Americans, need not fear that “old” Cuba will disappear anytime soon.

David Cameron argues for action against ISIL. The British prime minister will call for airstrikes against the militants in Syria, as well as for an ideological campaign to promote British values against Islamic State propaganda.

PayPal begins trading on the Nasdaq—again. The online payments company will use the same ticker it traded under before it was acquired by eBay in 2002: PYPL. PayPal split from the online auction site on July 17.

A big week for earnings reports and central bank decisions. Among the companies reporting today are Morgan Stanley, Halliburton, Hasbro, and IBM. Monetary policy decisions are also expected this week in Turkey, South Africa, New Zealand, Hungary, and Nigeria.

Over the weekend

Greek banks reopened. Lines formed outside bank branches—which had been closed for the past three weeks—but capital controls and restrictions on withdrawals remain in place. A tax increase on restaurant food and public transport will also go into effect; German chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the country must move fast on implementing the new bailout terms.

Barclays may cut 25% of its staff. The British bank is on course to reduce its staff count to below 100,000, from 132,000 at the end of last year, according to Bloomberg. That figure was derived from previously-discussed job cuts but more could still come following CEO Antony Jenkins’s ouster earlier this month.

China slowed the decline of its property market. House prices fell in fewer than half the 70 cities monitored in June for the first time in more than a year, as the government lowered borrowing costs and China’s stock market corrected. China’s top-tier cities saw the biggest price gains, while smaller cities struggled.

Racial clashes broke out in South Carolina. Five people were arrested as white supremacists and African-American groups held overlapping demonstrations outside the South Carolina State House, where the Confederate battle flag was removed last week. Amid the violence, however, a moment of humanity stood out.

Hackers broke in to Ashley Madison. The owner of the dating website for cheating spouses has confirmed that unauthorized individuals accessed their customer’s information. Canada-based Avid Life said it closed the route via which hackers acquired the information, and did not speculate who may have been behind the attack.

Gold dropped to its lowest price in six years. The precious metal fell by 5.5% to $1,072.35 per ounce (paywall) after China revealed it is holding less gold than analysts previously believed. The prospect of higher US interest rates also acted against the gold price.

Donald Trump angered the Republican base. The billionaire presidential candidate mocked John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, drawing denunciation from his party’s leadership and his rivals. Trump had been riding high in Republican primary polls after his criticism of Mexican immigrants.

Quartz obsession interlude

Thu-Huong Ha on how America’s funniest women are getting raunchier while its funniest men are getting soft. “Comedy would be nothing without transgression, but who is allowed to make these violations is finally shifting. As women comics continue to enter the mainstream, there’s a new market for boundary-pushing jokes that can appeal to both genders, and increasingly it’s women who can do them well.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Black Americans may be dying faster because they sleep less. More than half sleep fewer than seven hours per night.

Capitalism is coming to an end. Technology has ushered in a postcapitalist era characterized by free time and collaborative networks.

The free market is ruining the Republican party. Candidates are running to promote their brand, not to serve the party.

Rome is on the verge of collapse. A weak economy, corruption, and neglect have left its monuments and public services in ruin.

Kids can’t be anything they want. Telling them they can be only sets them up to become dissatisfied adults.

Surprising discoveries

A festival in Transylvania is offering entry in return for blood. It hopes to encourage blood donation nationwide.

The Soviet military mapped the entire world in incredible detail. Some maps show features, such as individual streets and buildings—useful for planning an invasion.

Drones hindered efforts to fight a California wildfire… Five amateur drones delayed firefighters from dropping water for up to 20 minutes.

…smoke from which ended up over the Arctic. That could spell trouble for further global warming.

Researchers can use phone data to tell if you’re depressed. They have an 86% accuracy record.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, cheap gold, and enough blood to guarantee us all festival entry to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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