Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—China’s GDP revision, Uber vs. Amazon, less melty ice cream

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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 German and Hungarian leaders.

Europe’s milk “crisis” comes up for debate. The fall in milk prices in recent years has led to producer protests in Belgium, France, and the UK. An extraordinary meeting of the EU Agriculture Council is expected to address the industry’s demands.

Iran hosts a symbolically important visitor. Austria’s president Heinz Fischer is the first European head of state to travel to the country since the conclusion of a recent nuclear deal. Fischer will be in Tehran until Wednesday, and is bringing representatives from 130 businesses.

US markets are closed. Stock, bond, and commodity markets are shut for Labor Day celebrations; they will reopen tomorrow.

Over the weekend

China revised its 2014 GDP growth downwards. The economy grew by 7.3% last year, according to its statistics ministry, down from an originally stated 7.4%. The change comes as the growth in China’s services industry was revised downward to 7.8%, from 8.1% earlier.

Toshiba reported a loss over its accounting scandal. The Japanese electronics company lost 37.8 billion yen ($318 million) in fiscal 2014, according to a full-year earnings report that was delayed twice because of accounting issues. A probe into Toshiba, which had previously expected a profit of 120 billion yen, found that it had overstated profits by 155 billion yen since 2008/2009.

The G20 put a positive spin on the global economy. The world shouldn’t fear the current shifts in China’s economy or its currency, finance ministers agreed (paywall). Concluding a two-day meeting, the group argued that economic growth this year is looking healthy, and that current threats to growth are being overblown.

The Pope called on Catholic communities to take in refugees. The Catholic leader suggested every parish ought to house at least one refugee family, to support the numbers traveling from Syria and elsewhere into Europe. That follows a recent switch in public opinion over the issue, which has pushed European governments to be more accommodating.

Guatemala went to the polls. Centrist comedian-turned-politician Jimmy Morales won a two-point lead over conservative businessman Manuel Baldizon, likely pushing the election to a 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 West Point pillow fight turned ugly. Some 30 cadets of the US military academy were injured in an annual pillow fight after some freshmen swung pillow cases packed with hard objects, according to the New York Times (paywall). The military is investigating the fight, which caused at least one broken bone, dislocated shoulders, and left 24 officers-in-training 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 not sustainable. What happens when people demand more than a tent and a bottle of water?

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

Hilary Clinton 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 shouldn’t mean that normal rules on consent don’t apply.

Surprising discoveries

A Japanese bookstore sells only one title per week. Each evening, events connect the author with readers.

Scientists are working to slow ice cream melt. 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.

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, bear sightings, and computer-generated paintings to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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