Mega-storm watch, Paul Manafort’s plea, kidnapped sea snails

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Two continents, two mega-storms. Hurricane Florence, on track to make landfall today in North and South Carolina, has been downgraded to a category 2 storm, but still threatens to cause deadly storm surges and flooding. Typhoon Mangkhut is due to hit the Philippine island of Luzon on Saturday and could pass within 100 km (62 miles) of Hong Kong by Sunday.

Paul Manafort’s plea deal. Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman has reportedly entered a tentative deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that could be announced in court today. It’s unclear if he is cooperating with prosecutors or plans to plead guilty to avoid a trial.

The UK’s Liberal Democrats hold their party conference. Aside from Brexit, the four-day event, which starts Saturday in Brighton, will focus on addressing the country’s wealth gap. Members will discuss a number of tax proposals, including an overhaul of the inheritance tax.

Three Earth-tracking satellites are sent into orbit. NASA will launch a satellite on Saturday to track melting polar and sea ice. On Sunday, India’s ISRO is sending two UK-owned satellites into space for forest mapping, resource surveying, and disaster monitoring.

Updates on the US economy. The Census Bureau will release retail sales figures (paywall) after a summer of strong growth. The Federal Reserve will publish numbers (paywall) on industrial output, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics will reveal changes in the prices of non-military goods and services traded between the US and the rest of the world.

While you were sleeping

Cynthia Nixon lost her bid to become New York’s governor. Incumbent Andrew Cuomo defeated the Sex and the City actress in the Democratic primaries, making him the frontrunner in the heavily Democratic state. Overall, the state’s primary elections saw a strong showing for progressive first-time candidates against incumbent politicians.

The two Koreas opened a joint liaison office in the North. The new office in Kaesong comes ahead of a meeting between the two countries’ leaders next week, and will enable them to communicate at all times versus previous methods of using fax and special phone lines, which have been cut in the past.

North Korea called the US’s hacking allegations a smear campaign. The country denied a programmer working for the government was behind the Sony Pictures hack and spread of the WannaCry virus. Park Jin Hyok, believed to be in North Korea, has been charged in the US with conspiracy to commit computer and wire fraud.

A Cuban doctor disputed claims that US diplomats were attacked in the Havana embassy. Neurologist Mitchell Joseph Valdés-Sosa, who is investigating incidents of workers suffering mild traumatic brain injury, called the allegations “far-fetched” and said claims of an unseen weapon go against the laws of physics.

The US Supreme Court confirmation hearings took a dramatic turn. Democratic lawmakers alerted the FBI to a letter that reportedly accuses nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct (paywall) several decades ago. The woman who wrote the letter wants to remain anonymous, but has retained a lawyer known for representing victims in several #MeToo lawsuits.

Quartz Obsession interlude

Isabella Steger on what retiring pop star Namie Amura has meant to Japan. “Though she’s not a household name in much of the world, she’s an icon in her native Japan who represents the golden era of its pop-music industry, and whose influence extends far beyond just music… [Amura] helped propel Okinawa in Japanese consciousness from a place seen as a distant, culturally isolated backwater best known for its US military bases, to one that became synonymous with being cool.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Serena Williams taught women it’s OK to demand an apology. Her response to the umpire at the US Open showed women they don’t have to suffer in silence.

“Too big to fail” taught us the wrong lesson. The phrase we should learn from the financial crisis is “moral hazard,” which explains why crises happen in the first place.

Four people is the perfect size for a conversation. A larger party will inevitably splinter into smaller groups.

Surprising discoveries

Men do 92% of the talking on earnings calls. Even when you factor in lower representation, men are still hogging the mic compared to women.

A man was jailed for his fake TripAdvisor reviews. He was sentenced to nine months for selling glowing reviews to businesses in Italy.

A thirst for beer inspired early humans to invent agriculture. We used to think alcohol was produced to use up agricultural waste.

Tiny shrimp-like crustaceans are kidnapping sea snails. And they’re wearing their victims like backpacks.

Uber drivers are forcing riders to cancel trips. It’s more profitable for them to pocket a cancellation fee than pick up a cheap fare.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, fake restaurant reviews, and super-old booze 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 Alice Truong and edited by Maria Thomas.