North Korea suspends talks, WTO Airbus ruling, Japan’s whiskey shortage

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What to watch for today

Malaysia considers parole or a pardon for Anwar Ibrahim. Supporters say the reformist leader could walk free from a five-year jail term for sodomy, a conviction they claim was politically motivated. Anwar’s party partnered with Mahathir Mohamad to win last week’s election.

Is Japan’s economy stuck in neutral? Analysts expect the company to post a 0.00% change in gross domestic product, which translates to a -0.6% decline when inflation is factored in. That would be the country’s first real GDP decline since 2015.

The EU tries to shield European companies from US-Iran sanctions. Jean-Claude Juncker and Federica Mogherini, the heads of European Commission and the EU foreign service, will brief all 28 EU leaders at a meeting in Sofia.

While you were sleeping

North Korea suspended talks in protest of US-South Korea military drills. Negotiations to formally end the Korean War and discuss denuclearization are now in doubt after a surprise midnight phone call from Pyongyang that called the Max Thunder exercises a “provocation” that gave Pyongyang no other choice. North Korea also threatened to cancel talks with the US next month.

Uber allowed sexual assault victims to opt out of arbitration. The ride-hailing company, which has been retooling its image under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, said it will end a longstanding policy that forced victims to give up their right to sue, and to require strict confidentiality agreements.

The World Trade Organization ruled against Airbus and the EU. The United States had accused the EU of providing $22 billion in improper state aid to build the A380 and A350 jets. The ruling, in the works since 2004, opens up the likelihood of more US trade sanctions—but could be counterbalanced by a parallel case against Boeing.

The US is planning to hold migrant children on military bases. Officials are planning site visits to facilities in Texas and Arkansas to “evaluate their suitability for child shelters,” the Washington Post reports (paywall). The move is part of the Trump administration’s plan to separate migrant families if they are caught crossing the border.

Author Tom Wolfe died at the age of 88. The author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Bonfire of the Vanities was a leading proponent of New Journalism (paywall), which began using literary techniques in nonfiction in the 1970s. He famously coined terms like “Radical Chic” and “the Me Decade.”

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Matters of debate

Evolution made it hard for humans to ask for help. The fear of losing status within a community is hardwired into primate brains.

Incels are out to rule the world. Absolute male supremacy (paywall), not a desire for sex, is at the heart of the violently misguided movement.

Stop using business buzzwords already. Brands will make better connections if they communicate creatively.

Surprising discoveries

Swedish thieves are stealing owls as cash is phased out. Valuable endangered species are easier targets than banks these days.

Oil companies are dropping “oil” from their names. The move is designed attract talented youth who take a dim view of fossil-fuel providers.

Japan is battling a severe whiskey shortage. Surging demand and limited supply has forced Suntory to halt sales of two big brands.

Venezuela is buying crude oil to give to Cuba. The country with the world’s largest petroleum reserves is struggling with production yet desperate to maintain dwindling alliances.

An asteroid will narrowly miss Earth. The city block-sized 2010 WC9 will fly by on Wednesday in Earth’s closest brush with an asteroid in 300 years.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, rescued owls, and stashed whiskey 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 and edited by Adam Pasick and Susan Howson.