Storms make landfall, Manafort’s plea deal, 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 Carolina and South Carolina, has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, but still threatens to bring deadly storm surges and flooding. Typhoon Mangkhut is due to hit the Philippine island of Luzon on Saturday and could pass within 60 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.

Three Earth-tracking satellites shoot 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.

US retail sales and other data. Analysts expect a 0.4% rise in sales in August, following a July increase of 0.5%. The Federal Reserve will publish industrial production and manufacturing output figures, both predicted to be up 0.3% in August.

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 incumbents.

Hundreds were evacuated and one person died in Boston gas explosions. The blasts, reportedly triggered by a rupture in a natural gas pipeline, demolished or set fire to dozens of homes and businesses in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. Evacuation centers were set up at local schools, which will remain closed on Friday.

SpaceX said it’s signed its first moon tourist. Elon Musk’s rocket company tweeted that it will reveal the person’s identity on Sept. 17, noting that this trip was key to making space travel accessible for “everyday people.” Musk has said before that his BFR rocket (paywall) will the largest and most powerful rocket built to date.

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 the spread of the WannaCry virus. The US charged Park Jin Hyok, believed to be in North Korea, with conspiracy to commit computer and wire fraud.

Beijing warned the US that it’s no pushover on trade. An editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper declared, “The Trump administration should not be mistaken that China will surrender to the US demands.” Trump had said yesterday that he felt no pressure to reach a deal (paywall), potentially undercutting Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin’s move to reopen negotiations.

Quartz Obsession interlude

Oliver Staley on the politics of hunting. “Perhaps the solution, or the beginning of the solution, to America’s gun problem will come not from further entrenchment into our positions, but more crossing over to the other side. Maybe the solution isn’t just more conservatives willing to consider gun control, but also more liberals learning how to hunt.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The new Apple Watch could do more harm than good. Its electrocardiogram feature could lead to a lot of unnecessary anxiety over false alarms.

“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

A David Hockney painting is set to become the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold at auction. Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) is worth an estimated $80 million.

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 barrels of beer 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 Sarah Todd.