US-China trade talks, Seattle’s company tax, meat rocks

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Iran’s foreign minister meets European leaders. After meetings in Moscow and Beijing on Sunday and MondayMohammad Javad Zarif heads to Brussels to talk about how to save the Iran nuclear deal. Donald Trump pulled the US out on May 8.

China’s vice-premier visits the US for five days of trade talks. Liu He will meet Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin amid fears of a full-blown trade war. Trump yesterday defended his decision to rescue Chinese tech company ZTE, saying it was “reflective of the larger trade deal” being worked out with China.

Funerals and more protests in Gaza. The 58 people killed by Israeli forces during Monday’s protests against the US embassy opening in Jerusalem will be buried today, which also marks the 70th anniversary of the “Nakba.” This was when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation. More protests are expected.

While you were sleeping

Seattle approved a new tax on the city’s biggest companies. The city council intends to use revenue from the “head tax” of $275 per employee to erect low-income homes to tackle the city’s housing crisis. Amazon, which had put its new office building on hold over an earlier plan for a stiffer tax, said it would now carry on with the construction.

The German economy had a blip. Europe’s biggest economy posted its weakest growth—0.3%—in more than a year in the first quarter of 2018, reflecting a slowdown across the euro zone. Germany’s trade momentum was down, with domestic demand driving the growth.

George Soros shut his office in Hungary over NGO repression. The US financier’s Open Society Foundations has been the target of prime minister Viktor Orban’s big crackdown on NGOs; it will now be headquartered in Berlin. Open Society president Patrick Gaspard said the Hungarian government had “denigrated and misrepresented our work…using tactics unprecedented in the history of the European Union.”

Statoil voted to drop the “oil” from its name to make it more attractive. Norway’s biggest company will be known as Equinor from tomorrow. It said having “oil” in its name had become a disadvantage in attracting young tech talent. The company hopes the new name will help it emphasize its renewable energy business too.

China’s long-anticipated slowdown might finally be setting in. The pace of retail sales dropped to a four-month low in April, home sales fell, and fixed-asset investment was at its slowest since 1999. However, the easing of pollution controls buoyed industrial output.

Quartz Obsession Interlude

Isabella Steger on the female entrepreneur trying to break Japan’s resistance to immigration with an app. “Work Japan… is one way to alleviate the problem of exploitation by creating a more transparent platform for workers to find jobs matching their interests, skills, and location, cutting out exploitative and expensive middlemen in the process.” Read more here.

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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

Collectors prize rocks that look like meat. Lushan, China has literally set the standard for meat rocks (paywall).

A Belgian found a 120-year-old starter for his sourdough library. An 84-year-old Canadian woman inherited the living yeast mixture from her great-grandfather.

The female scientist who identified the greenhouse-gas effect never got the credit. Eunice Foote showed preliminary results and made the prescient prediction about the cause of global warming in 1856, three years before Irish physicist John Tyndall.

A plastic bag made it to the world’s deepest spot. Even the Mariana Trench isn’t safe from the ubiquitous trash.

Oil companies are paying less lip service to 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 bread, 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 Jill Petzinger and edited by Lianna Brinded.