Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
The European Central Bank meets. The ECB is expected to reduce its bond-buying program in September. In the meantime, it’s expected to hold interest rates steady.
British and EU Brexit negotiators give an update. UK Brexit secretary David Davis and the EU’s Michel Barnier round off four days of talks and will outline the results of discussions on issues such as citizens’ rights and the Irish border.
Microsoft releases its quarterly earnings. The tech giant is expected to announce major layoffs as it reorganizes its sales staff to focus on its growing cloud-computing business.
While you were sleeping
Donald Trump ended a covert CIA operation in Syria. The move raised eyebrows (paywall) in light of the scrutiny over Trump’s relationship with Russia, as Moscow fiercely opposed the initiative. The Obama-era program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Bashar al-Assad was questionably effective.
John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer. The US senator’s office confirmed McCain has a brain tumor, after the 80-year-old underwent surgery last week to remove a blood clot from above his eye. The type of tumor, glioblastoma, is a particularly aggressive type that is difficult to treat.
Banking regulators are looking into Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Trump. The German bank’s ties to the US president date back to the 1990s (paywall), when it was one of the few banks willing to lend to Trump. Deutsche Bank is also expecting to provide information to Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the federal investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.
The Bank of Japan held steady. The central bank kept its monetary policy unchanged, but delayed its goal for achieving its 2% inflation target by one year to fiscal year 2019. The BOJ also raised its GDP forecast for this and next fiscal year.
US-China economic talks didn’t exactly go as planned. Delegates from both countries canceled news conferences without explanation. Earlier in the day, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and other Trump administration officials demanded a “more fair” trade relationship.
Quartz obsession interlude
Ephrat Livni on how the American legal system helped define the hot dog. “The differences between a hot dog and a sausage, say the cognoscenti, are the production process and flavors… Hot dogs are a subset of the sausage but the meat used for franks are ground finer and emulsified. Hot dog recipes tend to use far fewer spices than other sausages.” Read more here.
The dark clouds forming / Over US-China talks / Sharpens taste for steel
Matters of debate
Withdrawing from NAFTA will kill 50,000 US jobs. Imposing taxes and tariffs on imports made in Mexico will handicap US automakers.
There’s a logic behind China’s brutal treatment of Liu Xiaobo. For the Chinese Communist Party, it was better to make a martyr (paywall) out of the Nobel laureate than to allow his potentially destabilizing ideas to spread.
Don’t mandate paid parental leave. The US doesn’t need another middle-class entitlement that would harm low-income workers.
A nine-year-old discovered a million-year-old fossil. He tripped on a hike in New Mexico, landing face-to-face with the tusk of an ancient “elephantine creature” (paywall).
Humans arrived in Australia 65,000 years ago. A new study suggests (paywall) that humans landed on the continent 5,000 to 18,000 years earlier than originally thought, and lived alongside giant wombats and wallabies.
Hip-hop has overtaken rock as the dominant US music genre. The rise of streaming and the death of physical albums have reshaped the charts.
Humans have created 8.5 billion metric tons (9.4 tons) of plastic in the past 65 years. Of all the plastic we have thrown out, only 9% has been recycled and 12% incinerated.
Demand for Irish passports in the UK has jumped 50% since Brexit. Anyone who has an Irish parent or grandparent born in Ireland is eligible for one.
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