Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Syriza breaks apart, Chinese economy looks weak, Dismaland theme park

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What to watch for today and this weekend

North and South Korea’s tense stand-off continues. After the countries traded artillery fire yesterday, Pyongyang issued a 48-hour deadline—expiring Saturday morning local time—for its neighbor to stop broadcasting propaganda from a large set of loudspeakers, and said its troops would be ready for war. Seoul is only 56 km (35 miles) from the North Korean border.

The UK will reopen its embassy in Iran. Philip Hammond, the UK foreign secretary, will visit Tehran over the weekend to formalize the move after a nuclear non-proliferation deal was struck between Iran and six world powers. The embassy closed in 2011 after it was stormed by people protesting against sanctions imposed on the country.

The Pacific region braces for not one, but two typhoons. Though they might not make significant landfall. The eye of Goni will pass north of the Philippines’ Luzon Island and may reach super-typhoon intensity, potentially causing intense flooding. It then may clip the coast of Taiwan and possibly southern Japan, while Super Typhoon Atsani is on track to stay in open waters.

John Deere reports its earnings. The US farm equipment giant—a key bellwether for the agriculture sector—is expected to post profits and revenue well below last year, due to low prices for soybeans and corn. Other companies reporting quarterly earnings include China Shenhua Energy and Foot Locker.

While you were sleeping 

Syriza broke apart as Greece heads for new elections. Rebels from the left-wing Syriza—which has only been in power since January and is a few years old itself—look set to form a new group, led by MPs who opposed the current bailout deal with Europe. Prime minister Alexis Tspiras announced his resignation yesterday after losing his parliamentary majority because of the rebels, and new elections will take place next month.

Britain recorded its first budget surplus since 2012. That means the UK government spent less than it received in taxes and other forms of income, leading to a surplus of £1.3 billion ($) last month. July is usually a good month for tax receipts. The UK has pledged to cut back on spending and “balance the books.”

China economic indicators continued to look dicey. The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, an indicator of factories’ strength, dropped to 47.1 in the first three weeks of August, the fastest drop since 2009. Stock markets in China, Japan and South Korea all slumped on the news. At least one hedge fund has made $100 million (paywall) by anticipating last week’s devaluation of the Chinese currency, the renminbi.

Uniqlo will test a four-day work week. Fast Retailing, the clothing chain’s parent company, will offer 10,000 full-time employees in its Japanese stores the option of a permanent three-day weekend, Bloomberg reports. To qualify, employees would have to put in 10-hour days during the rest of the week.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on how Greece really does not need yet another election. ”This vote will change little. In essence, Greeks will be deciding who they want to implement the conditions that are already spelled out in the country’s latest bailout deal. Creditors have shown little appetite for compromise, leaving whatever government emerges from the election with no room for maneuvering.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Ashley Madison’s stolen data should not be in copyright. The adultery site is going after journalists reporting on the breach.

Righteous revulsion won’t prevent pedophilia. It’s a poorly understood brain disorder, not a choice.

Vanity Fair’s transgender issue is a disappointment. It features exactly zero trans authors.

Putting women in combat should not be a political issue. The military does not have to reflect society.

“Shade balls” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The reservoir protectant could be bad for the environment.

Surprising discoveries

The Wikipedia entry for things banned in Russia may soon include Wikipedia. The culprit is a recipe for hashish.

Our stomachs and digestive tracts have taste buds too. Flavor receptors turn out to be versatile tools.

Banksy has created a dystopian amusement park.  “Dismaland” includes a boat pond full of asylum seekers.

A new London swimming pool is suspended in midair. It was designed by aquarium architects.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Dismaland ride ideas, and suspended pool designs to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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