Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Australia’s leadership challenge, German border controls, whale culture

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What to watch for today

The European Union inches forward on refugees. After a tumultuous weekend (see below), EU ministers will debate a plan for allocating 120,000 of the asylum-seekers who have arrived from Africa and the Middle East to various European countries. Some 40,000 people were expected to show up in Germany over the weekend alone (paywall).

Greece’s would-be leaders square off. Anti-austerity incumbent Alexis Tsipras faces his conservative rival Vangelis Meimarakis in the final TV debate between prime ministerial hopefuls before the general election on Sep. 20. Meimarakis’s chances are looking unexpectedly strong; Greeks might punish Tsipras for months of uncertainty and angst over the country’s bailout negotiations.

OPEC publishes its monthly outlook. Scrutiny of the petroleum cartel’s report could be closer than usual this month, after Goldman Sachs last week suggested that oil prices might fall to $20 a barrel.

The United Auto Workers flex their muscle. Contracts between the US union, which has about 142,000 workers, and the Big Three carmakers are due to expire.

The UN’s atomic watchdog convenes. The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to call for more funding in response to a request to monitor the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Over the weekend

Germany imposed temporary border controls. The country halted train services and established highway checks along its border with Austria, after refugees flooded Munich’s railway station. Meanwhile, a refugee boat sank in Greek waters, drowning 34 people, nearly half of them babies and children.

Tony Abbott faced another leadership challenge. Malcolm Turnbull, a senior cabinet minister, and foreign minister Julie Bishop visited the Australian prime minister to request a ballot for the country’s top job. Turnbull later told the press that the current government wouldn’t win another election unless Abbott steps down; he has proved consistently unpopular in polls.

China released mixed economic data. Industrial output rose by 6.1% in August from a year earlier, falling short of expectations of a 6.6% rise. Urban fixed-asset investment also grew slower than expected, but retail sales for the month came in ahead of expectations. The data suggest China will struggle to meet its 7% GDP target for the year; stock markets fell on the news.

Labour veered hard to the left. Britain’s chief opposition party elected the socialist Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. Prime minister David Cameron referred to Corbyn as a “threat to national security.” Here are 24 things he believes.

Egyptian police killed foreign tourists. Security forces attacked the tourists’ convoy during what it said was a pursuit of terrorists, killing at least 12 tourists and guides. Two of those confirmed dead were Mexican citizens; the nationalities of the others have not yet been confirmed.

California declared a state of emergency. Wild fires ravaged more than 100,000 acres in the northern part of the state, forcing the evacuation of 20,000 residents. So far over 400 buildings have been destroyed by the fires, which threaten to damage thousands more.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Frommer on Apple’s sneaky strategy to undercut US mobile carriers. “By selling unlocked phones directly, Apple stands to potentially increase its customer loyalty—and marginalize the value of carriers, pushing them further into ‘dumb pipe’ classification.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Labour Party has chosen death with honor. A shift to the left shows it’s unwilling to do middle-ground politics, and that will cost the party in elections.

Drone strikes won’t work against ISIL in Syria. They’ve done nothing to reduce terrorist attacks in Yemen and Pakistan.

We could almost eradicate malaria if we really tried. Doing so would avoid over half a million deaths per year in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Brazil should ask for an IMF bailout. It doesn’t need the money, but the conditions attached to it would give Brazil a lever for politically difficult reforms.

We deserve the right to repair our gadgets. Manufacturers deliberately make it hard to carry out cheap, easy fixes (paywall) in the hope that we buy new devices instead.

Surprising discoveries

Arts and science do go together. The most accomplished scientists are nearly twice as likely as average to have an arts or crafts hobby.

Making your bed is bad for you. Covering it up after a night’s sleep makes it easier for dust mites to survive and breed.

Kenya is upset that its government spent $1,000 on a wheelbarrow. The authorities said it was a very special model.

Getting a chip implanted in your hand hardly hurts at all. Other parts of the body are another matter.

Whales have a distinct culture. Like many other social animals, whales learn habits and even “dialects” from other members of their group.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, implants, and whale etiquette tips to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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