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What to watch for today and over the weekend
Tiangong-2 comes back to Earth… After over two years in orbit, China’s manned space lab re-enters our atmosphere. Unlike its predecessor, this spacecraft is expected to make a controlled re-entry off the coast of New Zealand. The two labs are paving the way for China’s planned space station.
…While the world celebrates the first trip to the Moon. Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the day a human being first walked on the Moon, with commemorative events worldwide—including a live countdown to Neil Armstrong’s first steps at Space Center Houston. Meanwhile, a Soyuz carrying a US-Russian-Italian team takes off for the International Space Station from the launchpad in Kazakhstan where Yuri Gagarin began humankind’s first space voyage in 1961.
Hong Kong braces for dueling weekend protests. A pro-Beijing rally is scheduled for Saturday as a show of support for local police and embattled leader Carrie Lam. Sunday’s competing demonstrations are a continuation of efforts to fully withdraw the extradition bill that ignited protests last month.
Japan goes to the polls, hopefully. A crucial election for the Upper House is likely to suffer from low voter turnout despite the future of the nation’s constitution and status as a pacifist nation potentially hanging in the balance.
Imran Khan arrives in the US. Despite initial US State Department claims to be unaware of the meeting, Pakistan’s president is scheduled to arrive in the US this weekend and meet with Donald Trump on Monday to discuss strategic goals in the region.
While you were sleeping
US-Iran tensions reached new heights. President Trump announced that the US shot down an Iranian drone that approached a Navy ship. The escalation came just hours after Iran claimed responsibility for seizing a foreign tanker.
Boeing’s 737 Max blunder got a price tag. The aerospace giant said it will take a $4.9 billion after-tax charge related to the worldwide grounding of its troubled aircraft. The charge is expected to wipe out any profit for Boeing over the second quarter.
Microsoft is coming for Amazon’s cloud crown. Microsoft stock ticked up after beating expectations and reporting its ninth straight quarter of double-digit revenue growth. The company’s booming cloud business is driving that growth and may even be taking market share from Amazon Web Services.
The US House passed a $15 minimum wage bill. Three Republicans joined all but six House democrats to more than double the hourly pay floor from $7.25 to $15 by 2025. Senate leader Mitch McConnell is not expected to bring the proposed law up for a vote ahead of elections next November.
New York took the lead in American climate change. With Democrats currently enjoying full control of state government, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed landmark climate legislation that calls for an 85% reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels and a zero-carbon electric grid by 2040.
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Silicon Valley philanthropists want to stop the singularity. Reporter Natasha Frost’s field guide about the changing world of philanthropy today explores the aims of “effective altruism,” a movement praised by Bill Gates and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Curious about how philanthropy is growing worldwide? Ten charts tell the story.
Sober-curiosity is the new temperance. Drinking in America is on the decline, the result of a confluence between wellness culture, alternatives like legal marijuana, and a rise in alcohol-related deaths across generations. It’s opening up new opportunities for businesses—not to mention bartenders, who are concocting low- or no-alcohol alternatives. Next round is on the Quartz Obsession.
Matters of debate
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Coffee won’t break your bank. A daily purchase is the hottest no-no in personal finance advice, but with rising housing and education costs, it’s mostly irrelevant.
Future cities won’t have children. As more people delay—or even reject—parenthood, even America’s most prosperous cities are beginning to shrink.
Futuristic jetpacks could be ours if we wanted. The mode of transportation we were promised long ago is expensive, awkward, and not much fun.
The Marshall Islands are radioactive. Parts of the Cold War bomb-testing site show higher levels than even Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Firefighters love their jobs. They may not make the most money in the world, but according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, they’re the happiest at work.
We may not need to see things to see them. Stimulating certain neurons with light—neurons that had fired when seeing an image previously—made mice “see” that same image.
China gave schoolchildren tracking devices. The 17,000 kids received watches that share their location with parents, but some say it’s for surveillance, not safety, purposes.
A Florida city is weaponizing “Baby Shark” against the homeless. That earworm and others will play on an overnight loop in a controversial attempt to clear the West Palm Beach waterfront.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, better jetpacks, and all the coffee you want to buy to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Max Lockie and Susan Howson.