Austria’s refugee stance, the Queen of England’s long reign, and hungry bears

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What to watch for today

Austria will shut its borders to refugees. The country will phase out emergency measures that have allowed more than 12,000 people to cross from Hungary over the weekend. Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said the decision followed “intensive talks” with the German and Hungarian premiers.

GE finally swallows Alstom. The European Commission seems likely to approve General Electric’s $13.5-billion takeover of Alstom later this week. If all goes well, GE has promised its investors $3 billion in cost reductions over the next five years.

The Queen becomes Britain’s longest reigning monarch. She overtakes her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, on Sept. 9. She’s expected to mark the occasion with a rare public speech.

Europe’s milk “crisis” come up for debate. The fall in milk prices over the past years has led to protests in Belgium, France and the UK. An extraordinary meeting of the EU Agriculture Council today (Sept. 7) is expected to address the industry’s demands.

Iran hosts a symbolically important visitor. Austria’s president, Heinz Fischer, is traveling to Iran today (Sept. 7), the first visit from a European head of state since the nuclear deal. Though Fischer’s position in Austria is largely as a figurehead, he will lead the first official Austrian delegation to Iran in 11 years.

Over the weekend

Germany has received 10,000 refugees over the past two days. Hungary finally allowed asylum-seekers to travel into Austria, and many travelled from there onto Germany. Meanwhile, the Pope has called for every Catholic parish in Europe to take in a refugee family.

A woman who was accidentally impregnated with the sperm of an African-American man fails to make her case. An Illinois judge threw out her claim against the sperm bank, which alleged that giving birth to a mixed-race daughter caused stress, pain, suffering and medical expenses.

Guatemalans voted, narrowly, to elect a new leader. Comedian Jimmy Morales’s two-point lead over the conservative businessman Manuel Baldizon is likely to trigger a second-round run-off. The country is facing a political crisis after former president Otto Perez Molina resigned and was arrested in connection with a customs fraud scheme.

A harmless-sounding West Point tradition turned ugly. Some 30 cadets were injured in the military academy’s annual pillow fight after some freshmen swung pillow cases packed with hard objects, the New York Times reported (paywall). The US Army is investigating the fight, which caused at least one broken bone and some dislocated shoulders, and left 24 cadets with concussions.

Quartz obsession interlude

Shelly Banjo on why Uber is just what retailers need to take on Amazon. “As more people shift their shopping to the internet, customers are getting increasingly demanding in terms of how quickly they want their goods delivered. And as more consumers shop online for fresh groceries from food delivery startups like Instacart and Deliv, their need for speed will increase even more.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Germany’s response to the refugee crisis is admirable, but it cannot last. The last time Germany let in so many, things didn’t go well for the refugees.

We’re no longer making friends at work. Work is a transactional place where we have “productive conversations” (paywall) instead of social ones.

Hilary finally sounds presidential. She’s coming across as knowledgable, and even almost coherent on the pesky subject of her personal email account.

We have to stop treating celebrity children like sexually mature adults. Just because they’re famous, we must not allow the sexualizing of minors for our entertainment.

Surprising discoveries

Astronauts are drawn to religion and spirituality from the “overview effect” which comes from seeing earth from space. But there could be ways to re-create that feeling of awe here on earth.

Scientists are working to slow ice-cream’s melting. A bacterial protein could delay that delicious scoop from becoming a sad puddle.

Computers can now paint like Van Gogh and Picasso. The software used to perform the feat mimics the human brain’s neural network.

Asking for advice can make you look smart, not stupid. You just have to ask the right person the right question, under the right circumstances.

A Russian town has been “besieged” by hungry bears. As many as 30 bears have been reported circling the town of 21,000 people.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, moments of awe, and melted ice creams to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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