Hurricane Irma looms, Venus’s comeback, drive-thru funerals

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hurricane Irma is expected to land. The Category 5 storm, the most powerful ever to form in the open Atlantic, will likely make its first contact with land on Wednesday morning local time in the northeast islands of the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, and then head for Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Haiti. The hurricane could hit Florida over the weekend.

The US House of Representatives votes on self-driving cars. Lawmakers will vote on a bill that would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 self-driving cars without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, rising to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years. The bill was unanimously passed by a House panel in July.

Narendra Modi visits Myanmar. The Indian prime minister is expected to discuss the plight of the Rohingya people who are fleeing Myanmar (paywall), after the Indian government said it plans to deport the 40,000 or so Rohingya who are taking refuge in India. Some analysts are interpreting India’s support of Myanmar as a ploy to counter China’s influence in the region.

Pope Francis begins his trip to Colombia. The pontiff plans to promote the peace accord signed last year between the government and the left-wing rebel group FARC. The peace agreement still faces considerable opposition from Colombians, many of whom believe the terms are too lenient for a group that engaged in kidnapping and murder for decades.

While you were sleeping

Australia’s economy continued to grow. GDP rose 0.8% in the quarter ended June from the previous quarter and 1.8% from a year earlier. One worrying spot in the Australian economy is consumer sentiment, as household debt remains high and wages are stagnant or even decreasing.

The second round of NAFTA talks wrapped up in Mexico City. Trade representatives from Mexico, Canada, and the US said they made minor progress on issues including digital commerce and small businesses, but more complex issues like the US trade deficit would be discussed at the third round of talks in Ottawa at the end of the month.

Nissan unveiled a better Leaf. The updated electric vehicle (paywall) will be able to run 150 miles (240 km) on one charge, compared to 220 miles for Tesla’s Model 3 and 238 miles for the Chevrolet Bolt. The car will go on sale in Japan early next month for about $29,000, and in the US and Europe in January.

Venus Williams booked a place at the US Open semis after a seven-year absence. After beating Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals, the 37-year-old will be the oldest female tennis player to compete in a major semifinal since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994. Williams, who announced she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2011, won the US Open in 2000 and 2001.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zheping Huang on professional female gamers in China. “Now, female pro gamers are able to earn monthly salaries of $3,000, double the amount a fresh college graduate can earn in finance in China. But their lives are grueling, involving hours of training at a computer and a daily battle against skeptics who dub female players ‘vases’—implying they have good looks but not good skills.” Read more here.

Markets haiku

As Kim’s bombs explode / and Irma threatens landfall / safe havens beckon.

Matters of debate

The cruise ship industry doesn’t care about pollution. A mid-size ship can emit as much daily exhaust as a million cars.

The world makes too much bread. An estimated one-third of US bread goes to waste, and surplus factory output is killing small bakeries in Europe.

Germany’s politics are boring in a good way. The lack of drama suggests that the country’s prosperity is in little danger from political malpractice.

Surprising discoveries

Drive-thru funeral service is now available in Japan. Elderly attendees can pay their respects without leaving their cars.

Science can prove why Freddie Mercury was so great. A group of researchers said that the key to the Queen singer’s voice lies in the frequency of his vibrato.

Cars are still designed using clay. Every major carmaker uses sculptors alongside sophisticated software.

The tiny fraction of studies that deny climate change are flawed. Scientists that replicated the research found biases and errors.

Amazon debuted a trendy new fashion line. “Find” features items like thigh-high boots made of velvet.

Correction: Yesterday’s Daily Brief stated that the New York Daily News was sold to Tronc for nothing; it was in fact sold for $1. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Freddie Mercury vibratos, and clay cars to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.