STAR WARS

GE’s biggest deal ever, AT&T helped Uncle Sam spy, mother robots

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What to watch for today

General Electric is expected to get a green light from the European Commission. The company wants to buy the power business of its French peer, Alstom, for $13.8 billion. It would be GE’s largest-ever deal, and is expected to get approval, even though the EU rejected GE’s bid to take over Honeywell International 14 years ago.

Urban Outfitters reports its second-quarter earnings. The retailer, aimed at teens and younger twenty-somethings with a taste for ironic t-shirts, has struggled as of late, while its Anthropologie subsidiary has thrived. But analysts expect a slight increase in sales and profits.

South Korea and the US begin military exercises on the Korean peninsula. The annual event draws threats of retaliation from North Korea each year, but this time the country is cranking up the hostile rhetoric and threatening nuclear war against the US.

Myanmar’s ruling party is preparing for a showdown. It’s gathering in a hastily arranged meeting to get ready for a confrontation in parliament with its ousted party chairman, Shwe Mann. The rivalry between Mann and president Thein Sein has recently reached new heights.

A key US housing index is expected to show more improvement. Economists expect the National Association of Home Builders’ NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index to increase to 61, up from 60 in July, which was its highest since November 2005.

Over the weekend

An Indonesian passenger plane carrying 54 people crashed. After the flight initially went missing, its wreckage was found in the remote region of Papua, where villagers reported seeing it crash into a mountain. The airline was on a list of carriers deemed unsafe by the European Union.

Julian Bond, a renowned US civil rights leader, died at age 75. Bond was a preeminent figure in the fight for racial equality in the 1960s. He also helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center, served as chairman of the NAACP, and held a seat in the Georgia legislature. Numerous people, including US president Barack Obama, paid tribute to his life and achievements.

The Tianjin, China, warehouse explosion may have dispersed deadly chemicals. Officials believe 70 times the permitted quantity of sodium cyanide was housed at the site, which exploded last week, killing at least 112 people and injuring more than 700. The company that owned the warehouse may have been transporting the chemical illegally.

Anti-government protests took place in cities across Brazil. Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out to protest against president Dilma Roussef, whose ouster many are demanding in the wake of a corruption scandal that has ensnared numerous officials in the ruling Workers’ party. It was the third instance of nationwide protests this year.

AT&T helped the US government spy on citizens. An investigation by the New York Times revealed that AT&T gave the National Security Administration access to billions of emails (paywall) that passed through its domestic networks. The telecom company also helped the NSA to place a wiretap on all the internet communications flowing through the United Nations headquarters.

Syrian government airstrikes killed dozens at a market. Local groups estimate that as many as 100 people died and 300 were injured in an air raid on the rebel-controlled town of Douma, where rebels have been firing rockets into Damascus. The strike marked one of the deadliest single attacks of Syria’s four-year conflict, in which the death toll has topped 220,000 people.

Donald Trump will deport millions of undocumented immigrants if elected. The US presidential candidate revealed his plan in a television interview, and added that he would build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Mexican citizens would defray the cost of the immense barrier by paying increased fees on visas and border-crossing cards.

Pink Floyd officially broke up. Guitarist David Gilmour broke the news that the band, which formed in 1965, is now “done.” Evidently, it was still going.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on African cities’ growing resemblance to Chinese ones. “China isn’t just providing the manpower to fuel quickly urbanizing African cities. It is exporting its own version of urbanization, creating cities and economic zones that look remarkably similar to Chinese ones. Journalist Michiel Hulsof, based in Amsterdam, and architect Daan Roggeven in Shanghai, began visiting the continent in 2013 to document and investigate whether China’s model of urbanism can work in Africa.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Puerto Rico doesn’t owe the US anything. The US just wants to benefit from an offshore tax haven without being responsible for its territory’s wellbeing.

Canada’s prime minister is running the country behind closed doors. He is openly hostile to the press and doesn’t want anyone to know what he’s doing.

ISIS uses Islam to justify sex slavery. It says the practice is allowed under Islamic legal rulings.

Drought isn’t a problem for California. Despite enduring the driest, hottest four-year period in the state’s history, it’s doing great (paywall).

The US embassy in Cuba never really closed. The Swiss actually took it over.

Surprising discoveries

The Prime Meridian is actually 334 feet to the east of its long-designated location. Astronomers who calculated the original line did not take into account distortions caused by gravity.

A team of researchers has created a “mother robot.” It’s capable of building its own baby cube-bots.

People tend to prefer politicians with deep voices. Researchers believe there are a few factors, like the association between a deep voice and strength.

Cats are evolutionarily superior to dogs. According to a new study, cats have historically been better at surviving than fury canines.

There’s a book designed to make kids fall asleep. It uses psychological techniques to help children relax, and eventually doze off.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, sleep tips, or deep-voiced salutations to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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