EU summit, Trump’s executive privilege, intelligent wasps

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

EU leaders discuss the future of Europe. Ahead of a major summit in Sibiu, Romania, eight member countries are calling for the bloc to spend 25% of its entire budget to tackle climate change, and to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest.

US-China trade talks resume under the cloud of more tariffs. Chinese vice premier Liu He is travelling to Washington for negotiations with US officials, a few scant hours before new US tariffs against Chinese goods are scheduled to take effect. Beijing has vowed to retaliate, causing turmoil in global markets.

Uber prices its IPO. The ride-share company is expected to price its shares at or below the midpoint of its target range, set at $44 to $50 per share in an updated filing last month. It starts trading tomorrow.

SoftBank posts quarterly results. The Japanese tech giant is expected to post a small increase in profit, but investors are also keen for more details about a possible IPO of its Saudi-backed Venture fund, which holds large stakes in companies like Uber and WeWork.

While you were sleeping

Donald Trump invoked executive privilege to withhold the full Mueller report. The move escalated a constitutional clash between the Democrat-controlled House and the US president, as a House committee voted to hold attorney general William Barr in contempt (paywall) for failing to produce the unredacted document. Separately, the Senate intelligence committee subpoenaed Donald Trump, Jr. to force him to answer questions about his previous testimony. Meanwhile, Democrats decide today whether to go to court to obtain Trump’s the tax returns.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou vowed to fight her extradition to the US. Appearing in a Vancouver courthouse yesterday, lawyers for the Chinese telecom executive, who faces charges related to Iran sanctions violations,  argued that previous comments made by Trump showed the case was politically motivated and thus disqualifies the US from pursuing the matter in Canada.

Juan Guaidó’s deputy was detained by intelligence services. Venezuela’s opposition leader said that the government had “kidnapped” Edgar Zambrano, vice president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, the first arrest of a lawmaker after a failed military uprising against president Nicolás Maduro last week.

South Africa began counting its ballots. Some results from elections for a new parliament and nine provincial legislatures will start to trickle in on Thursday morning, with a final tally expected by Saturday. The vote is widely seen as a major test for the ruling African National Congress party, which swept to power 25 years ago after apartheid ended.


The world’s largest money market fund is only six years old. Ant Financial launched Yu’e Bao (“Leftover Treasure”) as part of its Alipay app, and now some 588 million Chinese use it. Its runaway success is a sign of China’s financial potential, as well as a deep and worrisome imbalance within its economy. Also, as part of this week’s field guide on Ant Financial, we profile its fiercest rival, Tencent, which is gunning for control of Chinese digital wallets just as aggressively as Alipay.

Quartz Obsession

Porta-potties: A true game of thrones. If you’re accustomed to indoor plumbing, using a porta-potty might not be high on your list of favorite activities. But the industry isn’t in the dumps—across the US portable toilets are a $2 billion business. As a result, the industry is ripe with competition, with some companies resorting to dirty tactics to stay ahead. Read more in today’s Quartz Obsession.

Matters of debate

Join the conversation with the new Quartz app!

Your mission statement isn’t fooling anyone. Companies shouldn’t waste time and resources pretending they have a greater purpose.

Privacy isn’t a joke. To win back users’ trust, Big Tech needs to treat privacy as a must-have feature.

Selfies don’t kill people. Blame selfie deaths on stupid behavior, not social media.

Surprising discoveries

The US is at war with Mexican tomatoes. Consumers will pay the price for tariffs on one of their favorite fruits.

Wasps are terrifyingly logical. They’re the first invertebrates to show evidence of transitive inference, a skill humans long thought was theirs alone.

Australia’s new $50 banknotes have a typo on them.  The yellow note misspells the word “responsibility,” and has been printed 46 million times.

Time travel is going nowhere fast. A virtual model concluded that it’s just far too difficult to do more than send a single particle just a split second back in time (paywall).

A man crossed the Atlantic in a barrel. The 71-year-old Frenchman’s journey took four months within the self-built orange capsule.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, barrel boats, and spell-checked banknotes to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Mary Hui and edited by Isabella Steger.