US-China trade talks, Gaza fallout, meat rocks

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Iran’s foreign minister meets with European leaders in Brussels. Mohammad Javad Zarif will talk about ways to save the Iran nuclear deal with his counterparts from the UK, France, and Germany. He spent Monday in Moscow and Sunday in Beijing discussing the same thing, following Donald Trump leaving the deal on May 8.

China’s vice-premier visits the US for five days of trade talks. President Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor, Liu He, will meet with Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin amid US tariff threats and fears of a full-blown trade war. He might offer easier access for American firms to Chinese markets, or an easing of the rules on forced technology transfers.

Funerals and more protests in Gaza. Those killed by Israeli forces in yesterday’s rallies against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem will be put to rest on the same day Palestinians mark the “Nakba,” when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation. More protests are expected.

A crucial state election in India. The polls in Karnataka—the hub of India’s IT industry—are being treated as a bellwether ahead of national elections next year. A loss could spell disaster for the Congress party, which currently rules the state.

Ramadan begins. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year when observers fast from sunrise to sunset, begins on May 15 and will end on June 14 in many countries, though the dates vary slightly by location depending on the sighting of the moon.

While you were sleeping

China’s long-anticipated slowdown might finally be setting in. April data clouded the country’s economic outlook, with the pace of retail sales falling to a four-month low, and fixed-asset investment growing the slowest since 1999, while home sales also fell. One bright spot was industrial output, buoyed by the easing of pollution controls.

Israel’s border killings sparked criticism. South Africa and Turkey recalled envoys following the killing of at least 55 people and wounding of over 2,700 by Israeli forces at the Gaza border, where protests were held over the US opening its embassy in Jerusalem. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called the killings “shocking.”

Gap apologized for selling a t-shirt showing an “incorrect map” of China. A brouhaha erupted after a picture of the shirt, sold in a Canadian store, was posted on Chinese social media. The map omitted Taiwan, south Tibet, and the South China Sea. The US clothing retailer promised it would set up a review process to prevent such incidents.

Actress Margot Kidder died at 69. Best known for playing the tenacious Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane in the 1978 film Superman, Kidder died in her sleep in her Montana home. She also worked on and off broadway, touring in The Vagina Monologues, and spent her later years devoted to political activism.

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Matters of debate

Are ebooks dying or thriving? No one knows—Amazon stays mum on the data behind the self-publishing industry it controls.

Women aren’t quoted enough. Journalists allowing cultural sexism to dictate their choice of sources (paywall) instead of actively seeking women exacerbates the problem.

Introverts may be better networkers. Meaningful, one-on-one conversations promote deeper, more memorable connections.

Surprising discoveries

A 120-year-old starter was added to a Belgian sourdough library. An 84-year-old woman in Canada inherited the living yeast mixture from her grandfather.

Collectors prize rocks that look like meat. Lushan, China has literally set the standard for meat rocks, which are on display at a museum (paywall).

Bolivia’s navy has no ocean. The nation became landlocked in the 19th century, but its navy trains in hopes of returning to the sea one day.

A plastic bag made it to the world’s deepest spot. Even the Mariana Trench isn’t immune to the indestructible material that humans can’t stop throwing away.

Oil companies are giving up on climate change. Linguistic analysis shows that corporate responsibility reports are mentioning it less and less.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ancient sourdough starters, and paper bags to 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 Steve Mollman and edited by Isabella Steger.