Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Microsoft shakes things up. The tech giant is shifting its focus to the cloud, and cutting 4% of its workforce as part of a restructuring due to be presented to investors. The company employed 114,000 people at the end of its latest fiscal year.
Yum China reports its latest earnings. Analysts aren’t expecting a flashy report from the Chinese offshoot of the American fast-food operator, which runs KFCs and Pizza Huts on the mainland. KFC is celebrating its 30th year in China—its first restaurant opened in Tiananmen Square in 1987.
The Fed releases minutes from an important meeting. The record of June’s meeting, where the Fed raised rates for a second time in 2017, will be closely scrutinized for clues about when the next hike will come. Analysts currently put the odds of a September increase at 50%.
While you were sleeping
Details of Donald Trump’s pow-wow with Vladimir Putin were announced. The White House confirmed that the US and Russian leaders will hold an official bilateral meeting on Friday in Hamburg, Germany during the G20 summit. The two macho presidents are presumably now devising handshake strategies ahead of the much-anticipated meeting.
Russia and China made multibillion-dollar plans. Meanwhile, Putin and Xi Jinping celebrated a Moscow meeting with the launch of a $10 billion “cooperation fund.” It will invest in mutually beneficial projects like Xi’s “One Belt One Road initiative” and Putin’s Eurasian Economic Union. Gazprom also pledged to pump gas to China via a new 2,500-mile “Power of Siberia” pipeline.
India’s state-run energy company bet big on coal. NTPC, the country’s largest power utility, announced plans to shovel $10 billion into new coal-fired power stations over the next five years. The plan still needs government approval, but if it goes ahead it will raise concerns about India’s commitment to reducing emissions as promised under the Paris climate accord.
Volkswagen revved up to re-enter Iran. The German car giant is keen to get back into the Iranian market after 17 years away. VW is hoping the country of 80 million people will boost sales in the aftermath of the emissions-cheating scandal that cost the firm dearly in the US and Europe.
Hanoi voted unanimously to ban motorcycles by 2030. City councilors in the pollution-choked Vietnamese capital want to get more people onto public transport. There are some 5 million motorbikes in the city—more than the number of households that live there. Residents are skeptical the plan will work, since the city doesn’t yet have a subway.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jordan Rosenfeld on the link between boredom and creativity. “If we turn straight to Candy Crush or Twitter whenever we feel bored, we might rush right past an important observation or chat online with friends all day instead of looking for a better, more challenging job. Being bored, according to scientists, is good for both the creative process and motivation.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Is this the end of Silicon Valley’s male elite? Sexual harassment scandals are toppling powerful execs in the valley, where sexism has long been a known problem.
Brexit is a retreat, not a liberation. Britain’s ambivalent attitude towards the EU ignores the project’s enduring value.
The US president has too much power. Trump’s erratic behavior is causing bipartisan concern about constitutional separation of powers.
Picky poodles are to thank for Thailand’s best-performing stock. Asian Seafoods Coldstorage, which owns a range of premium pet food brands, is up 200% so far this year.
A retired Japanese policeman holds the record for Hello Kitty memorabilia. Masao Gunji’s 5,000-piece collection was recognized by Guinness World Records.
Ancient Roman concrete holds the key to improving modern construction. It could be both more durable and eco-friendly than contemporary building techniques.
Chimpanzee diets could help scientists find the cure for cancer. Compounds from plants that primates seek out in their “jungle pharmacy” have shown signs of inhibiting some diseases’ development.
A pest infestation produced the most famous desktop background of all time. A lush grass carpet is not what Napa Valley grape growers had in mind for the scene made ubiquitous by Microsoft Windows XP.
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