Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Fed speaks, Britain’s bank sale, NSA plays defense, ancient water tastes terrible

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What to watch for today

Fed status quo? The US Federal Reserve, ending its monthly two-day meeting, is not expected to announce any change in policy, but investors will hang on every word from chairman Ben Bernanke on the $85 billion monthly bond-buying program. Here’s a quick guide on decoding Bernanke’s Fed-speak.

Giving peace a chance. The Taliban begins talks with US and Afghan officials to discuss ways to end the 12-year long war in Afghanistan.

Britain’s plan to sell off banks.  UK chancellor George Osborne is expected to outline a roadmap for selling the government’s stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, which it took over at the height of the financial crisis. Osborne will face more questions on whether he forced RBS CEO Stephen Hester to step down.

Out of fashion. Swedish budget retailer Hennes & Mauritz will report its second quarter numbers. Expectations are muted after H&M reported flat same-store sales for May. The strength of the krona too is expected to weigh on profits.

Another jelly donut? A few weeks before the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s famous Berlin speech, President Obama will address Germans from the Brandenburg Gate. He won’t get the same rapturous welcome he got as a presidential candidate.

Will FedEx deliver? The shipping and freight giant is expected to report a 4% rise in revenues (paywall), though income is expected to drop 1%. The company is working on a multi-year plan to modernize its fleet and cut costs.

While you were sleeping 

China’s seafood fetish cost the world dear. Rising demand from China and dwindling supplies pushed global fish prices to a record high in May.

Get ready, get set… Votorantim Cimentos, Brazil’s largest cement maker, suspended a planned IPO worth $3.7 billion, most likely for political, economic and regulatory reasons. It would have been the world’s second biggest IPO this year.

NSA on the defensive. Its chief, General Keith Alexander, said that surveillance programs helped disrupt over 50 potential terrorist attacks since 2001. Meanwhile,  a WikiLeaks spokesman says he was asked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to approach the Icelandic government about seeking asylum.

Carl Icahn derailed Dell again. The billionaire investor doubled his stake in Dell Computer and called on the company to launch a $14 a share tender offer, in his latest attempt to block a buyout by a consortium led by founder Michael Dell.

Deloitte was fined and banned. The consulting firm agreed to pay a $10 million fine and stop offering services to New-York-based financial institutions for one year. State authorities accused Deloitte of misconduct in its review of anti-money-laundering practices at Standard Chartered bank.

Chrysler gave in to the feds. Having previously refused a government request to recall 2.7 million Jeeps to fix safety problems, the car-maker backed down. It won a small concession: It only has to use the word “recall” for 1.56 million of the cars, though they’ll all get the same fix.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on what will happen to global growth if China’s economy tanks. “Slowing China’s export engine wouldn’t likely destroy the global economy. If annual GDP growth slowed to 3-4%, it might hurt a tiny handful of countries like South Korea that run a trade surplus with China, and some commodity prices would drop. But companies that compete with China overseas would suddenly be more competitive.” Read more here. 

Matters of debate

Immigration reform isn’t compassion. It’s the economic reform we’ve all been waiting for.

US healthcare could be cheaper. All we have to do is tell people how much it costs.

Forgive and forget. The careers of the deviant Canadian mayors aren’t necessarily over.

Microsoft overpriced the Xbox One. The lessons it should have learned from Gillette and Facebook.

Surprising discoveries

There’s rat poison in your milk. But don’t worry, “toxic” is all relative anyway.

Scientists found 1 billion-year-old water in Canada. It tastes terrible.

Dessert technology. Hyperspectral imaging, once used to trace Osama bin Laden, is being used to make a better cake.

Clapping is contagious. It has very little to do with how much we actually like something.

Status symbols. More North Koreans are buying refrigerators, but it’s not to keep their food cold.

A Prius costs $154,000 in Singapore. And people are still buying them.

How to find state secrets on social media. LinkedIn searches can reveal the code names of US intelligence programs.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, billion-year-old water samples and sincere applause to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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