Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama meets Putin, Olympic skateboarding, supermoon waves

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What to watch for today

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin talk Syria. The Russian president will address the UN for the first time in a decade, following the publication of satellite images that suggest Russia is developing two additional military bases in Syria. Putin will also meet with US president Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, and is expected to discuss conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

The highest tides of 2015 follow the moon’s spectacular display. On Sunday night (ET), a supermoon and lunar eclipse coincided for the first time in 33 years. Meteorologists expect the supermoon, which is when the moon is closest to the Earth, to cause the high tides for up to two days.

Typhoon Dujuan disrupts flights from Taiwan. Dozens of flights have already been canceled for today and tomorrow due to strong winds and rains, which are expected to continue over the next 24 hours. Domestic bullet train services have also been halted.

The Zimbabwean who led the hunt of Cecil the lion is back on trial. Theo Bronkhorst faces charges for failing to prevent an illegal hunt, in which a US tourist killed the well-known lion.

A sneak peak at US consumer spending. Analysts expect a 3.1% rise in spending in August compared with a year earlier, which would be the slowest annual increase in over a year. Expect some concerns about third-quarter GDP if the figure comes in any lower.

Over the weekend

Voters backed Catalan independence parties. Pro-separatist parties, which want Catalonia to become independent from Spain, won a parliamentary majority in a regional election, after promising voters that such a win would lead to a separation within 18 months—but they took less than 50% of the vote. Spain has said it would block any potential secession.

Organizers requested skateboarding in the Tokyo Olympics. The host city’s Olympics committee proposed 18 events from five sports, including baseball/softball, karate, climbing, and surfing; the International Olympic Committee will consider the games and announce the inclusion of one next year for the 2020 games.

Shell ended its Alaskan oil exploration. The Dutch oil major will take a $4.1 billion writedown after it failed to find enough oil to continue investigating the Burger J well. An “unpredictable” regulatory environment concerning drilling in the Arctic, as well as the low price of oil, also contributed to the decision to end its exploration (paywall).

Didi Kuaidi invested in its Indian counterpart. The Chinese ride-hailing service confirmed it has invested in Ola, joining the Indian company’s fundraising round of more than $500 million. The investment should help both companies fight Uber, which is expanding in Asia; neither company has confirmed the amount invested.

Comcast bought a majority of Universal Studios Japan. The US cable company agreed to pay $1.5 billion for 51% of the theme park operator, marking its largest overseas investment to date. CEO Brian Roberts said Comcast will be making more international acquisitions in the near future also, after it failed to purchase its competitor Time Warner Cable.

Chinese industrial profits took a blow. Large industrial companies reported an 8.8% drop in profits in August from a year earlier, the largest fall since records began in 2011. That drop comes on the back of falling investment, oversupply, and weak demand; oil, gas, and mining profits led the fall, each dropping by more than 60% in the first eight months of the year.

France launched air strikes in Syria. French planes destroyed an Islamic State training camp, after previously restricting its attacks to Iraq. President François Hollande said the camp represented a danger to France; the attacks also come just days before Hollande meets with Russian president Vladimir Putin to discuss the ongoing war in Syria.

The pope completed his tour of the US. Pope Francis spoke in Spanish to an audience in Philadelphia on Saturday, and met with victims of sexual abuse on Sunday. The Catholic leader expressed regret that some bishops had failed to protect young people, and offered an apology for those who had spoken up about abuse but were dismissed by the church.

Quartz obsession interlude

Wolfgang Fengler on why, if you like soccer, you should welcome migrants. “First, the football business is a perfect illustration of the ‘lump of labor fallacy.’ Many politicians often assume that the key parameters of an economy are fixed so that when migrants come, they necessarily take jobs away from natives. This thinking is wrong because immigrants who work also contribute to growing the ‘cake’ and the overall pool of employment opportunities. German football players are also benefitting from the internationalization of their business because they earn much higher salaries today at all levels.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Pope Francis is not progressive. He has the same socially conservative views as his predecessors.

Jeb Bush has positioned himself as the anti-internet candidate. He’s in favor of policies that would limit the public’s online rights.

Escaping poverty is like escaping a vicious circle. Having little cash changes your psychology to discourage you from saving.

Colleges need to reaffirm their commitment to free speech on campus. There have been too many examples of censorship in the academic community over the past year alone.

The US Republican party is alone in its stance on climate change. No other right-wing party agrees that nothing should be done.

Surprising discoveries

WhatsApp, not Twitter, is the battleground in Tanzania’s election. Africa’s mobile-first internet is bringing politicians to the chat app.

Empathy has a sinister side. Caring for one person can lead to unfounded aggression towards another.

Sushi conveyor belts are out. Japan’s chain Genki Sushi, with 130 branches, is phasing out the wasteful system in favor of quick-order tablets.

Millions of planets are more habitable than we realized. Plenty of Earth-like planets are not stuck with one side constantly facing their star, as was previously supposed.

Chipotle has a 39-point list for good management. The company’s co-CEO says that it leads to highly engaged teams.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, sushi-ordering tips, and supermoon consequences to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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