Trade war “on hold,” Starbucks talks bathrooms, Roman Abramovich’s visa

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Will Japan up the stakes in a trade war? Japan may notify the World Trade Organization that it is placing tariffs on $452 million worth of imports from the US in retaliation for steel and aluminium restrictions. Japan is the only major US ally that didn’t receive exemptions from those duties.

Italy’s next prime minister comes closer. The leaders of the League and the Five Star Movement, who agreed to form a coalition after months of talks, meet with president Sergio Mattarella to discuss their planned government and who will lead it. Italian bonds and stocks fell last week on fears over their populist agenda.

China wants to be the first to the far side of the moon. To do that, it will launch a supporting relay satellite, called Queqiao, to set up communications between Earth and the Chang’e-4 lander and rover, which will launch later this year. Queqiao includes a radio antenna built by Chinese and Dutch scientists that they hope will reveal clues about the early universe.

Over the weekend

The US and China called a ceasefire. Officials in Washington reached an agreement with their Chinese counterparts on a framework for fair competition and protecting intellectual property, which they say will reduce its $335 billion annual trade deficit with Beijing. “We’re putting the trade war on hold,” US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Starbucks opened its bathrooms in the US for everyone. The decision comes after a Philadelphia store manager summoned police when two black men asked to use a bathroom. The company told employees (paywall) that anyone who enters Starbucks—whether or not they buy something—is seen as a customer.

Venezuela voted on its next president. Most analysts agree that a victory by president Nicolás Maduro is almost a certainty, even as the opposition boycotted it and country endures hyperinflation as well as food and medicine shortages. Venezuela, meanwhile, has accused the US of trying to sabotage the contest.

A Japanese film won at the Cannes Film Festival. Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, was a surprise winner for the Palme d’Or. Spike Lee’s comedy BlacKkKlansman took home another prize and actress Asia Argento accused some members of the audience of “covering up” for disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Millions watched two people get married. Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle were wed in Windsor, England in a ceremony that featured a black American preacher and a dress created by the British designer of Givenchy. Here’s everything you need to know to pretend you watched.

Quartz Obsession Interlude

Ephrat Livni on a controversial study that suggests octopuses are from outer space.

“But the paper is not just about the provenance of cephalopods. Its proposal that octopuses could be extraterrestrials is just a small part of a much more extensive discussion of a theory called “panspermia,” which has its roots in the ideas of ancient Greece.”

Read more here


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Matters of debate

France is one of the best investments out there. The Fifth Republic is undergoing reform (paywall) at the fastest rate ever.

Writing in a journal is good for you—and so is throwing it out. Very little writing withstands the test of time, and that’s fine.

You should never trust an on-stage tech demo. Pretty much of all them are faked in some way.

Surprising discoveries

Meghan Markle’s signature look is called a “messy bun.” And, yes, it was supposed to come loose on her wedding day.

Kerry James Marshall is the most expensive living African-American artist. Sean “Diddy” Combs bought one of his paintings for $21.1 million.

Prepare for “mayochup.” This is a mayonnaise-ketchup combination that Heinz is rolling out (paywall) to win the condiment wars.

Venezuela has its own version of The Onion. And it has been satirizing Nicolás Maduro’s reign to its millions of readers.

Roman Abramovich is having visa trouble. The Russian billionaire Chelsea soccer-club owner’s visa to the UK has expired.

A US island has an average wage of $2.5 million a year. Along with places like Palo Alto, it is one of the country’s richest zip codes.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Starbucks bathroom codes, and mayochup 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 John Detrixhe and Kabir Chibber.