Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Asian stocks plummet, Macedonia’s borders reopen, baby pandas

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What to watch for today

Guatemala’s president is refusing to step down. Otto Pérez Molina said he would not go, and continues to deny having any part in an alleged case of massive customs fraud that has rocked the Latin American nation and generated four months of street protests. Much of his cabinet resigned over the weekend. Presidential elections are due to be held late next week.

Three Americans receive France’s highest honor after foiling terror attack. On Friday, a 25-year-old Moroccan man launched an attack on board a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, but was subdued by passengers including two members of the US armed forces. French president François Hollande is awarding them the Légion d’honneur, saying they showed  when “faced with terror, we have the power to resist.”

North and South Korea resume talks amid escalating tension. High-level talks between the two nations are expected to continue following days of threats and a brief exchange of artillery fire. Tensions arose after two South Korean soldiers were seriously injured by a mine believed to have been planted by North Korea along the de-militarized zone.

Mexican inflation will probably slow to a record low. The country’s national statistics institute will release data expected to show a drop to 2.7%, from 2.8% in July. Declines in energy and telecommunications costs, as well as sluggish economic growth, are behind Mexico’s falling inflation.

Over the weekend

Asian stocks experienced their biggest drop in two years. China stocks erased their 2015 gains, with the Shanghai index dropping as much as 9%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index falling 4.6%. Japan’s Topix dropped 5.9% over the day as investors opted for the yen, a safe-haven asset. Commodities sank to their lowest level in 16 years, with China’s economic slowdown exacerbating gluts of everything. There was a knock-on effect in Europe, with stock markets in London, Paris, and Frankfurt opening sharply lower.

Tony Abbott visited the grave of an indigenous rights campaigner. He became the first serving Australian prime minister to visit the grave of Eddie Koiki Mabo, whose battle to secure recognition for the land rights of indigenous people succeeded in 1993. Abbott described him as a “warrior.”

Nigeria’s army chief was ambushed. Suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a convoy carrying Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, killing one soldier. Buratai took up his post only last month, after former military heads were sacked for failing to handle the Islamic militant group.

Macedonia reopened its border to Syrian migrants. Migrants were allowed to pass into Macedonia to take trains to its northern border with Serbia, after Macedonia declared a state of emergency and closed its border with Greece. Many of the migrants were fleeing Syria, and plan to travel to other European Union nations, via Hungary.

ISIL destroyed a 2,000-year-old temple at Palmyra. The militants blew up the Roman-era monument at the Syrian city of the same name, according to CBS. Palmyra hosts a large ancient city listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran. The embassy had been closed since 2011, when protestors stormed the compound, burned the Union Jack, and ransacked the ambassador’s office. Foreign secretary Philip Hammond credited the Iran nuclear deal with the UK, US, and other world powers for restoring ties.

Joe Biden met with Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren. Many pundits believe the vice president is building a coalition for a possible 2016 presidential run against the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. Warren is yet to endorse any contender for next year’s election.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenni Avins on an experiment to see if staring into someone’s eyes for 10 minutes can cause hallucinations. “After a few long seconds, we settled into our places. I watched the smile fade from Lauren’s face, and felt sucked into her eyes. The bottom of her face started to elongate, and the highlights on her cheeks started to look like some kind of war paint or tribal markings. It occurred to me that she looked like a Native American chieftain.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Is a slow putsch against Vladimir Putin underway? Those who have most to lose could be plotting against him.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign had a defining moment over race. Her unscripted conversation with Black Lives Matter activists could fire up her most important audience: the Democratic base.

How is China best understood? The new “Two Chinas” question asks whether it’s still a strong country with a hopeful future, or one with significant deep-rooted issues and a bleak outlook.

“Six Feet Under” had the best finale of all time. The HBO drama, which ended 10 years ago, is typically considered by critics to have one of the most stunning and emotional closing sequences of any television show ever.

Be careful not to confuse sexism with misogyny. Instead of being lumped into the definition of sexism, the word “misogyny” should keep its original and more powerful meaning.

Surprising discoveries

Thirty whales washed ashore in Alaska in an “unusual mortality event.” Scientists don’t know what killed the whales, which all appear to have died around the same time.

The house from “The Silence of the Lambs” is now for sale in Pennsylvania. The home, where fictional serial killer Buffalo Bill inserted moths into his victims’ throats, is listed at $300,000.

The world’s oldest message in a bottle was found. A woman found a bottle on a beach in Amrum, Germany that is believed to be 108 years old.

We have panda twins! Mei Xiang gave birth to twin cubs on Saturday at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, panda pics, and whether John Doe from SE7EN’s home is also for sale to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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