What to watch for today and over the weekend
European and Asian leaders meet in Ulaanbaatar. German chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese premier Li Keqiang are among those gathered in the Mongolian capital for the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a biennial dialog. Beijing wants to avoid discussion of the recent South China Sea ruling that didn’t go its way, but that’s unlikely.
Censored 9/11 documents may be released. Twenty-eight classified pages from a congressional inquiry are expected to be made public. The families of 9/11 victims who are suing Saudi Arabia think the pages may contain evidence linking the kingdom’s government to the attacks.
The US Commerce Department reports on June retail sales. Consumer spending patterns were healthy in May, but economists expect only modest growth for June (pdf), held back by tepid demand for cars.
While you were sleeping
An attacker drove a truck into a large crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. The death toll now stands at 84, with dozens more in critical condition, after a truck ran over people celebrating the national holiday, driving more than a mile through a crowded beachfront promenade. Unconfirmed reports suggest the driver was a 31-year-old of Tunisian descent, who was killed by police at the end of his rampage. French President François Hollande said that the attack had an undeniable “terrorist characteristic,” but it’s not yet clear whether the man acted alone or with help.
Swatch had a dire first half. The Swiss group, which owns Omega and Tissot, saw its first-half profit cut in half, with sales down 12%, due to weak demand in Europe and Hong Kong. Tissot was worst hit as it competes in the same market as the likes of the Apple Watch. The company’s commitment to avoiding layoffs and sticking to its investment plans have exacerbated the profit decline, it said.
More bad news for Volkswagen. The German carmaker’s first-half sales (paywall) in Europe rose just 0.8% in June from the same period last year, as it continues to suffer from last year’s emissions scandal. By comparison, Renault sales climbed by 15% over the same period. Volkswagen’s market share in the EU is now at a five-year low.
Samsung bought a stake in a Chinese electric-car maker. While Samsung hasn’t officially announced the size of its investment, the South Korean giant will reportedly pay $449 million, giving it a 4% stake in automaker BYD, which is backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
China reported suspiciously steady GDP growth for the second quarter. The figure came in at 6.7%—to nobody’s surprise, that’s right on track with the government’s target of at least 6.5% for the year. The statistic is widely considered to be massaged, with analysts fretting about the health of the country’s financial system and resilience to an inevitable slowdown.
Quartz obsession interlude
Nikhil Sonnad and Alice Truong produced the ultimate guide to Pokémon Go. “At first, it seems like all you do is wander around, catching random fake animals… Much like in life itself, you are dropped into a world that you must master at the same time as you figure out how it works.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Facebook and Twitter are building a culture of snitching. Their businesses rely on users monitoring each other—mostly without realizing it.
Tesla should pump the brakes on its autopilot feature. A leading consumer group thinks it is too much autonomy, too soon.
The nuclear arms race is getting mixed up in the space race. Russia’s reported development of a nuclear-armed spaceship would destabilize world order.
An elderly German woman is under investigation for defacing art. She filled in the blank spaces in a crossword-themed museum piece.
The Tour de France leader had to run to the finish line. Chris Froome jogged with the peloton to finish a stage after a bike-wrecking crash.
Why did turtles evolve to have shells? Not for protection, but for digging.
A mysterious benefactor is littering an Oregon town with $100 bills. Residents have been finding signed “Bennys” for the past three years.
A New York convent won’t accept a debt-ridden woman as a nun. A lifetime of religious service requires paying off student loans first.
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