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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Bangkok’s death toll, China’s home prices, Tom Cruise becomes Jesus

What to watch for today

Typhoon Goni disrupts the Philippines. The country’s meteorological officials say the storm, which just entered Philippine territory, will bring winds of 130 kmh (80 mph). While it is unlikely to make landfall, it is expected to worsen conditions caused by the ongoing summer monsoon.

US retailers announce quarterly results. Wal-Mart is expected to post a fall in earnings, after investing heavily in its physical stores and its online services to counter competition from Amazon. Meanwhile, Home Depot is expected to report a strong quarter.

US housing gets another boost. Economists expect that new home construction will climb for a second month. It has been bolstered by lower unemployment and low mortgage rates, as well as warm summer weather that has more people in a home-buying mood.

While you were sleeping

The death toll from a Bangkok blast rose. At least 22 people have died, many of them tourists, and around 120 were injured after a bomb detonated at a popular shrine yesterday. No group has taken responsibility for the attack apparently aimed at Thailand’s tourist economy; Thailand’s defense minister claims the government has suspects in mind.

UK inflation rose unexpectedly. Consumer prices increased by 0.1% in July from a year earlier, against expectations they would remain flat. Smaller discounts on summer clothing kept costs up, but a low oil price and a strong pound pushed overall inflation down.

China’s property price deflation slowed… New home prices in 70 cities nationwide dropped by 3.7% in July from a year earlier, according to Reuters. That’s the 11th consecutive month of property declines but the slowest drop this year; prices rose 0.3% from June.

…but its stock market went wild again. Shanghai stocks finished the day down by 6.2%, while the Shenzhen stock exchange fell by 6.6%. That was the biggest one-day drop following more than three weeks of relative calm; there was no clear reason for the sell-off (paywall) as the yuan was left unchanged and the economic data was largely positive.

Lindt reported sweeter-than-expected earnings. Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli’s first-half net income was 65 million Swiss francs ($66.5 million), up by 15.6% from a year earlier and well above expectations. That follows the company’s purchase of US-based Russell Stover, which gives it greater exposure to the US candy market.

Petrobras was warned of record US fines. US authorities may fine the the Brazilian state-controled oil company more than $1.6 billion to settle a corporate corruption investigation, according to Reuters. The US began investigating Petrobras after the fallout from a corruption scandal spread to politicians and contractors, as well as company leadership.

Quartz obsession interlude

Heather Timmons on how the US and China are clashing over tracking corrupt Chinese officials. “Chinese agents have crossed the globe to track down economic fugitives and corrupt officials—as well as their overseas assets—through official and unofficial channels, often buoyed by promises of help from foreign governments.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It’s time to boycott Amazon. A company that doesn’t respect its own workers doesn’t deserve its customers’ money.

Don’t apologize for being rich. Capitalism is far from the morally tainted system some people suggest it is.

Chinese agents are in the US to save face. For China to ask the US for help in catching its fugitives would be too embarrassing.

You, not stores, are responsible for teaching your kids about gender issues. Good for Target for dropping gendered toy aisles, but the real learning happens at home.

Burger-flipping robots may come sooner than you think. The push to raise fast-food minimum wages could accelerate the process (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

Russian border officials killed 50 illegal ducklings. The Ukrainian fowl were euthanized and burned for not having the appropriate documents.

All Nippon Airways will fly an R2-D2-themed passenger jet. Flights begin in October between Tokyo and Vancouver.

There’s an app that drives you to a random bar. It’s a mashup of Uber and Yelp.

Discarded wax figures are getting an afterlife. Tom Cruise has been recast as Jesus at the UK’s Bible Walk museum.

An ancient whistling language could shed light on the human brain. Used in the mountains of Turkey, it carries messages up to three miles (five km).

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, apps for alcoholics, and other uses for celebrity wax figures to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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