Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Stock market turmoil, Splenda sale, illicit birthday parties

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What to watch for today

Boeing employees take the aircraft maker to court. A class action suit brought by 190,000 workers and retirees of Boeing accuses the US aerospace company of managing their pension investments poorly, resulting in high investment fees. Their federal court case opens today (paywall).

South Sudan flirts with a peace deal. President Salva Kiir said he may sign an agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar to demilitarize the capital of Juba and enable rebels to appoint two state governors. The UN Security Council has threatened to impose sanctions if Kiir doesn’t sign by Sept. 1.

WPP’s quarterly update. The world’s largest advertising company, which owns agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, is expected to report a 12% increase in profits. CEO Martin Sorrell says China will continue to be the most important global advertising market, despite its recent troubles.

While you were sleeping

China’s stocks reacted messily to an interest-rate cut. The Shanghai composite index gained as much as 1.2% in early trading and lost as much as 3.9%; it ended up by 0.8%. The Shenzhen index also rose and fell several times in the morning, ending down 0.2%. The government’s failure to calm market volatility has raised questions (paywall) about whether prime minister Li Keqiang will be forced out of his position.

The US got over the China market panic, briefly. US stock indices experienced a strong surge after China cut the cost of borrowing, but the stocks gave back their gains at the end of the day. The S&P 500 closed down 1.4%, after earlier being up by 2.9%.

Barack Obama gave Joe Biden his blessing for a 2016 presidential run. The US president made it clear that he would neither oppose nor counsel against the current vice president, should he decide to run next year, according to CNN. That adds more speculation to earlier reports that Biden may be canvassing for support among powerful Democrats.

Johnson & Johnson sold Splenda. The sugar substitute brand records annual sales of $300 million, but the company wants to focus more on healthcare products. The buyer, Heartland Food Products Group, paid an undisclosed price.

South Korean retailers got a boost. Department store sales rose 0.7% in July (paywall) from a year earlier, a sign that things are returning to normal after an 11.9% drop in June. That fall was due to the MERS crisis; the respiratory disease killed 36 people in South Korea and damaged its valuable tourism industry.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jake Flanagin on what ending birthright citizenship would mean in the US. “Repealing birthright citizenship sends a powerful message: The kind of immigrant who received birthright citizenship in the past (mainly from Europe) was adding to the national equation; the kind of immigrant arriving today (mainly from Latin America) will not.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Stop checking your stocks. The more you look at them, the more likely they are to be down.

Is your summer reading assignment offensive? Too bad. Higher education requires exposure to new ideas, even if they make you uncomfortable.

Black holes aren’t inescapable, after all. Stephen Hawking has a theory about how particles’ properties can leak out.

North Korea’s spat with South Korea was to get China’s attention. Nuclear threats are a way to get more aid from its sole ally.

Jimmy Carter’s legacy has been vastly underrated. The former US president deserves more credit for his actions in his office, not just afterwards.

Surprising discoveries

Robots are learning how to cook us breakfast. They parse how-to websites to figure out how best to make pancakes, for example.

The Middle East is a bright spot for air quality. It’s the only region in Asia where pollution is decreasing.

Public birthday celebrations are illegal in Tajikistan. One man got busted after posting party photos on social media.

South Africans found humor in a hashtag when their currency tanked. Lots of things are #StrongerThanTheRand.

The US and Russia can’t agree on how to handle outer space pee. The International Space Station has two different purification systems.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Tajikistan birthday invites, and breakfast-cooking robots to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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