G20 kicks off, Putin’s landslide, Edison’s “bug”

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

US and North Korean representatives meet in Finland. Ahead of an unprecedented summit between the countries’ leaders, lower-level officials and outside experts are reportedly meeting in Finland. South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said that Kim Jong-un had “given his word” that he’s committed to denuclearization.

The G20 summit kicks off in Buenos Aires. Finance chiefs from the world’s biggest economies meet in Argentina this week, with protectionism and the US’s recently announced tariffs high on the agenda. German and Argentine finance ministers said that they’re determined to uphold the G20 pledge to maintain international free trade.

Donald Trump unveils an opioid plan that includes the death penalty for drug dealers. In addition to making sentencing laws tougher, the president wants to reduce the overprescription of opioids in federal health programs. Experts have warned, however, that treating drug addiction as a crime won’t help tackle the country’s opioid crisis.

Over the weekend

Surprise! Vladimir Putin won re-election in Russia. Exit polls showed a big win for the strongman, who garnered 75% of the vote. Young people are major Putin supporters because the economy has generally expanded during his tenure, giving them more opportunities than their parents had. An independent monitoring group reported multiple irregularities at polling stations.

China filled key posts. Liu He will be the new vice premier, while Yi Gang was tapped to become the central bank chief. The promotion of Liu, a key economic advisor to president Xi Jinping, signals Beijing’s intention to clamp down on risky practices in the financial system, while Yi’s appointment is seen as a sign of continuity at the People’s Bank of China.

Trump lashed out at special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The president took to Twitter this weekend to celebrate the firing of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. He also attacked Robert Mueller by name for the first time, saying the election-interference probe “should never have been started,” and seemed to suggest that Mueller’s team has a partisan bias. Mueller himself is a Republican who was appointed FBI chief by George W. Bush.

Two were injured in an explosion in Austin, Texas. The blast follows three package bombs going off earlier this month in other parts of the city, resulting in two deaths. It was unclear if the blasts were related, but the latest came hours after authorities raised the reward to $115,000 for information leading to arrests of whoever was behind the first three.

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi asked for humanitarian help for the Rohingya crisis. The country’s leader has been excoriated for failing to address the suffering of the Muslim minority but, according to Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, she asked for help during private talks with South East Asian leaders at a summit in Sydney.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zoë Schlanger on the deadly business of recycling car batteries. ”There is the kind of lead poisoning that creeps into water supplies, builds up in children’s blood streams, and, if sustained, will impair their brains. And then there is the kind, much rarer, that makes fully grown adults drop dead.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Humanity will prevail over the Malthusian threat. Lower fertility rates will diffuse the world’s ticking population bomb.

The easiest person to trick is yourself. People are experts at overestimating their knowledge and qualifications.

It’s time for a #MeToo movement for black people. The current era of accountability, while necessary, feels overwhelmingly white.

Surprising discoveries

US Supreme Court opinions can be works of comedy. Case in point: Clarence Thomas on a party that got out of hand.

Thomas Edison coined the term “bug” for a technological glitch. The inventor used it to describe an issue with his telephone design.

Japan’s prisons are filled with elderly women. They commit minor crimes to escape poverty and loneliness.

Over half a million children in India are smoking cigarettes everyday. According to a new report, regular smokers aged 10-14 include 429,500 boys and 195,500 girls.

In the world’s most expensive cities, the cost of wine and cigarettes varies dramatically. A bottle of wine is 200% more expensive in Seoul than in Geneva, while a pack of smokes is three times pricier in Sydney than in Copenhagen.

Correction: The weekend brief on authoritarian leaders should have called an alleged poisoning of a British agent on UK soil an “alleged attempted murder,” not an “alleged murder.” Quartz regrets the error. 

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, healing juices, and amusing court cases to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jill Petzinger and edited by Jason Karaian.