China-US trade talks, net neutrality, yanny vs. laurel

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

China-US trade talks. China’s top economic envoy vice premier Liu He will meet with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and other officials in Washington to address trade tensions between the nations. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was not invited to the talks.

The EU-Western Balkans summit kicks off. European leaders will discuss innovation and the digital economy, as well as US withdrawal from the Iran deal in Sofia, Bulgaria. Several EU member states are protesting the presence of Kosovo at the summit, a candidate for accession.

Retail giants report earnings. Eyes are on Walmart’s first-quarter earnings after it announced plans to merge its UK arm, Asda, with its British rival, J Sainsbury (paywall). Hopes are less high for JC Penney, which continues to face e-commerce competition.

Another NAFTA deadline. The US continues to push for a revised deal, but Canadian and Mexican officials have not visited Washington for talks; lawmakers will likely be unable to pass the deadline and still get a new deal approved by the year’s end.

While you were sleeping

The US senate voted for net neutrality. Senators voted to overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which would have rolled-back Obama-era net neutrality. The policy now faces an even tougher vote in the House, before it heads to Trump.

Mark Zuckerberg will appear before the European parliament. The Facebook CEO will meet with EU leaders as early as next week, to “clarify issues related to the use of personal data,” and explain the company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. He’ll also sit down with French president Emmanuel Macron, but continues to refuse to testify to the UK parliament.

Michigan State University reached a $500 million settlement with Larry Nassar victims. The payout—$425 million of which will go to victims while $75 million will be saved for those who may come forward in the future—pertain to Nassar’s misconduct at MSU, though he was accused of abuse at USA Gymnastics and at Twistars Gymnastics Club.

New Trump documents revealed a $100,000 payment to Michael Cohen. Financial disclosures show that Trump reimbursed his personal attorney for an expenditure tied to the $130,000 hush payment Cohen used to silence Stormy Daniels. Trump’s legal team has said that the US president repaid Cohen but “didn’t know about the specifics.”

Lachlan Murdoch will lead Fox after the company’s Disney deal. He will serve as co-chairman alongside his father Rupert Murdoch. Fox announced last year it would sell the bulk of its film and TV assets to Walt Disney in a $52.4 billion deal.

Quartz Obsession interlude

Jenni Avins on Tom Wolfe and how he brought us on the bus: “It’s easy to feel nostalgic for the simpler world of the counter-culture 1960s. And in the midst of a new ‘new age’—think Burning Man, post-work sound baths, and weekend ayahuasca retreats—our perception of its cultural precedents is often scrubbed clean, romanticized, and repackaged.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

This time around, house flippers are good. If Wall Street buys their loans, it means they can improve neighborhoods more quickly.

Anne Frank deserves privacy. The hidden pages of her diary weren’t meant for publication.

Taking a break is part of your job. True work lies in the balance between effort and ease, and downtime should be mandatory.

Surprising discoveries

The “yanny/laurel” debate is about waveforms. The speakers on your device vibrate at similar frequencies for both “words,” and your brain chooses which one it hears.

Most Uber drivers could make more flipping burgers. After expenses, drivers’ hourly wages add up to less than the legal minimum in many major US cities.

Hippos poop too much. The mammals defecate in impressive amounts, and it’s killing fish by the thousands in west African rivers.

The Vatican wants nuns to cool it on social media. Facebook and Twitter are allowed, but to be used “with discretion and sobriety.”

Wodehouse Prize judges didn’t laugh. 62 comic novelists weren’t able to make the deciding panel chuckle, so the sought-after prize will go unawarded this year.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, yannys, and laurels 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 Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz and Susan Howson.