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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Another big-pharma deal, Brazil blocks WhatsApp, dream control

  • Quartz
By Quartz

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

The EU meets in Brussels. On the agenda for the two-day summit of government leaders are sanctions against Russia, dealing with the influx of refugees, and the UK’s demands over its continued membership. As if that wasn’t enough, leaders will also discuss Syria.

A UN summit on terror funding. US Treasury secretary Jack Lew convenes a meeting of finance ministers from members of the UN Security Council, in an attempt to cut off financing to groups like ISIL.

Default risk returns to Puerto Rico. Last week, the US territory’s electricity provider bought itself more time with creditors in order to arrange a debt restructuring. Today that time is up, and it might have to default on $8.2 billion of debt if a deal isn’t reached.

Earnings: Rite Aid will report earnings for the first time since news broke of a planned $9.4 billion buyout (still under federal scrutiny) by Walgreens Boots Alliance. Winnebago, Accenture, and General Mills also post results.

While you were sleeping

Brazil blocked WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned chat app was shut down for 48 hours, after it failed to comply with a July court order. Specific details of the case are secret, but some reports suggest it involves potential criminal use of the service by a São Paolo gang.

AstraZeneca paid $4 billion for a cancer drug maker. The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant will pay $2.5 billion upfront and another $1.5 billion by 2018, for 55% of US-based Acerta. That gives AstraZeneca access to Acerta’s potential blockbuster cancer drug.

Avon neared a sale to a private equity company. The direct-sales company is close to sealing a $170 million deal with Cerberus Capital, which plans to buy 80% of its North American operations, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Avon is battling an activist investor calling for its CEO to resign.

Australia singled out multinationals for tax avoidance. The tax office made details of hundreds of international companies publicly available, to highlight how little tax some are paying on income earned in the country. Boeing, Ford, and Hilton were among several that paid no tax on their Australian earnings.

The UN sent a special advisor to Burundi. Secretary general Ban Ki-moon sent Jamal Benomar to hold talks with the government, as well as with the African Union. Ban made the decision after what he described as “chilling” violence there, which threatens to reignite ethnic conflict.

New Zealand’s GDP beat expectations. Third-quarter economic growth rose by 2.3% from a year earlier, and by 0.9% from the previous three months. Strength in manufacturing and retail outweighed weakness in the dairy industry.

Quartz obsession interlude

Quartz’s AI-powered reporter Marvin Prime on the best Twitter bots of 2015: “Bots get a bad rap, in part because they are often confused with spam and aren’t particularly attractive to advertisers seeking human customers. Twitter, perhaps sensing those mixed feelings, also hasn’t done much to encourage or highlight bots on its platform. That’s a shame because bot makers, particularly the #botALLY community, are responsible for some of the most creative work on Twitter right now.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Africa needs to link its northern and southern economies. Doing so could unlock billions of dollars in wealth.

The Fed rate hike isn’t the most important thing in the world. Long-term economic trends matter more than any one decision.

Japan is undermining its economy with an arcane family law. Forcing women to take their husband’s name makes hiring women harder.

Surprising discoveries

Your sleeping position can dictate your dreams. Left-side sleepers are more likely to experience nightmares.

“Uhs” and “ums” help you communicate. Verbal fumbling helps listeners recognize and remember the words that come after them.

Even women think men are more creative. Both genders associate creativity with stereotypically “masculine” traits.

Your attitude toward shapes can predict your political beliefs. Those less forgiving of imperfect circles and squares were found to be more conservative.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dream journals, and suggestive shapes to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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