Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Obama in Alaska, Thai bombing arrest, Wi-Fi allergy

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch today

Sudan’s president arrives in Beijing. Omar Hassan al-Bashir is traveling to China for the country’s commemoration of the end of World War 2, despite warrants from the International Criminal Court accusing him of genocide and other atrocities. Other attendees of the Sept. 3 ceremony include leaders from some of the world’s least powerful countries.

Obama visits the Arctic. The US president will address foreign ministers from Arctic countries convening in Alaska, which he says is “on the front lines” (paywall) of climate change.

Euro-zone inflation data. The European Central Bank has been pumping some €60 billion ($67 billion) into the economy every month for half a year, but August prices are expected to only show a 0.1% increase. Also due today: GDP figures for India.

Serena Williams reaches for history at the US Open. A victory at the tennis tournament, which starts today, would complete a calendar-year Grand Slam. Serena has already set one record: tickets for the women’s final sold out before the men’s for the first time ever.

Over the weekend

No letup in Asia-Pacific markets. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets were down 2.6% and 2.3% respectively this morning, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 1%. Japan’s Topix index also fell, as comments from the US Federal Reserve suggested it may raise the cost of borrowing sooner rather than later.

The US prepared sanctions against China. President Barack Obama’s administration has drafted economic restrictions aimed at companies and individuals in China that benefited from large-scale cyber attacks on the US, according to the Washington Post. The sanctions could be implemented within two weeks, ahead of a state visit by China’s president.

Rolls-Royce was drawn into Brazil’s bribery scandal. The British engineering group said it was cooperating with authorities looking into the company’s relationship with a Brazilian businessman already under investigation. Earlier this year, a prosecuting witness alleged that Rolls-Royce had bribed Brazilian politicians, amid a multibillion-dollar corruption investigation.

Volkswagen and Suzuki settled their failed partnership. The International Chamber of Commerce ruled that the German automaker should sell its 19.9% stake in its Japanese rival to Suzuki, after an attempt to collaborate on new technology failed. Suzuki requested the sale in 2011, a year after VW purchased the stake for €1.7 billion ($1.9 billion); the shares are now worth $3.8 billion.

Thailand arrested a suspect in the deadly Erawan bombing. Police in Bangkok say they arrested a foreigner from an unspecified country in connection with the blast that killed 20 people two weeks ago. Bomb-making materials were allegedly found at the man’s house, but he may not be the same person who was caught on a security camera.

Dominica was devastated by a tropical storm. The Caribbean island nation reported at least 20 people dead and 50 missing (paywall), with many communities completely cut off in the aftermath of tropical storm Erika’s intense flooding and landslides. Heavy rain is expected today in Florida as the storm moves north.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks died. The scientist and acclaimed author, 82, wrote about his patients with deep empathy and in graceful prose—even after he himself received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Sacks achieved rare fame by writing about the oddities of the human mind in books such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Quartz obsession Interlude

Cassie Werber on the European countries that will only accept migrants if they’re Christian. “Discrimination on the basis of religion is specifically prohibited under European law—which is one of the reasons people fleeing sectarian conflicts in places like Syria seek asylum there in the first place… [Yet] Slovakia’s interior ministry said it would be willing to take in 200 refugees, but would strongly prefer non-Muslims.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Buying organic vegetables is a waste of money. They cost more but are not measurably healthier or better for the environment.

Everyday rudeness at work is contagious. Annoying encounters can eventually hurt productivity and performance.

We need to set aside half of the Earth. It’s time for re-wilding, says scientist E.O. Wilson.

Ballpoint pens killed our handwriting. They are less comfortable and require more effort than old-school fountain pens.

Surprising discoveries

Italian entrepreneurs are most likely to have the surnames Hu, Chen, and Singh. “Rossi,” the most common Italian surname, ranks a distant fourth.

A French woman receives disability payments for a Wi-Fi allergy. She claims €800 ($850) a month for “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.”

A Chinese man makes a living as an Obama impersonator. The former migrant worker recently got plastic surgery to enhance the likeness.

A beautiful face is greater than the sum of its parts. The more faces are averaged together, the more attractive the result.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fountain pens, and Wi-Fi allergy remedies to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.