Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Another EU data spat, new Microsoft devices, Antarctic alcoholics

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What to watch for today

Protesters meet with Nepal’s government after deadly unrest. The United Democratic Madhesi Front will sit down with state leaders, after recent demonstrations against Nepal’s new constitution left 45 dead. The group, which has close ties to India, has also been blocking the flow of vital supplies into the country.

Microsoft unveils a new line of Windows 10 devices. The tech giant is expected to announce new Surface tablets and Lumia phones at an event in New York. Other new products will be revealed throughout the week.

The US commerce secretary visits Cuba. Penny Pritzker will meet with Cuban officials to discuss loosening US restrictions on travel and business between the two nations. She is the second member of president Barack Obama’s cabinet to travel to Cuba since diplomatic relations resumed this year.

Nigeria finally has a cabinet. Months after president Muhammadu Buhari was elected to power, the Nigerian Senate will announce the leader’s list of ministerial nominees. Buhari has said before that he didn’t want to rush his selection, as he wanted to prioritize weeding out corruption.

Soda and fast food brands announce third-quarter earnings. Pepsi is expected to report a strong quarter thanks to emerging market growth, while investors in Yum Brands, the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, will be watching to see how a slowdown in China—its largest market—affects earnings.

While you were sleeping

The EU invalidated a major US data pact. The European Union’s highest court ruled that a 15-year-old data-sharing “Safe Harbor” agreement between it and the US no longer adequately protects EU citizens’ privacy. That means data transfers by companies like Facebook may be blocked, until new measures can be taken to reassure the EU that private data will remain safe in the US.

US authorities investigated UN officials in a bribery case. US federal authorities are investigating either current or ex-UN officials for allegedly receiving bribes in return for giving support to real estate projects in Macau, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The bribes were alleged to have originated from Macau businessman Ng Lap-seng, who was arrested last month and who has ties to the Clintons.

SABMiller sold more beer but was hit by currencies. The British-South African brewing giant reported a 2% rise in second-quarter beer sales by volume but a 9% drop in reported group revenue for the period, due to a strong dollar. Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewery, is considering a buyout of SABMiller, whose CEO championed the company’s long-term strength despite currency fluctuations.

Yemen’s prime ministerial residence was hit by rocket fire. Prime minister Khaled Bahah was left unharmed but several others were killed and injured after a rocket hit the Qasr hotel in Aden, which currently acts as both a residence for the PM’s cabinet and the seat of government. The attack comes shortly after Shia Houthi rebels were driven from the city.

Apple acquired an artificial intelligence company. The iPhone maker didn’t disclose how much it paid for Perceptio, which has developed an image-recognition system based on deep learning. Perceptio had been working on a way to learn about the user without compromising his or her privacy.

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on curing blindness with gene therapy. “Spark Therapeutics, a Philadelphia-based biotechnology company that went public earlier this year, announced that its experimental treatment for a rare form of blindness significantly improved patients’ sight in an essential phase 3 clinical trial with no serious side effects. It’s certainly good news for the firm, and is a positive sign for other high-risk, high-potential companies betting on these kinds of treatments.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Sweden is not the progressive utopia it’s made out to be. Those who say racism is not a problem in the Scandinavian country are fooling themselves.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is weak tea. Big new trade agreements used to be global, not regional.

Americans care too much about undergraduate degrees. It’s wasteful to make four years of college a prerequisite for many jobs.

The argument for an armed US citizenry is bogus. Without rigorous training, most gun owners would find their weapons useless in survival situations.

Everybody is racist. We shouldn’t ignore whites who feel discriminated against.

Surprising discoveries

Twenty-five million Japanese stayed up to watch the rugby. Japan thrashed Samoa in the Rugby World Cup in only their third-ever tournament victory.

We are approaching the end of extreme poverty. The percentage of people around the world who lack basic necessities could fall under 10% this year.

California farmers are using spiritual guides to find water. Dowsers, who use mystical divination to find water sources, may be a cost-effective alternative to geologists.

The female blanket octopus is 70 times larger than her male counterpart. That sets the stage for one of the trickier sex acts in nature.

Scientists stationed in Antarctica have drinking problems. Their employers are considering sending breathalyzers to the research stations this year.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, obese octopus lovemaking, and San Francisco rental tips to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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