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What to watch for today
A response to the escalating civil unrest in Hong Kong. China’s top policy office in the city will hold an unprecedented press conference to give its views on the “current situation,” which has involved weeks of protests over an extradition bill, police brutality, and other issues.
Robert Lighthizer heads for Shanghai. The US trade representative, joined by treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and others, will travel to China for a resumption of the trade talks that broke down in May. The two sides are expected to restart negotiations Tuesday.
A possible pharma tie-up. Pfizer could announce as early as today that it will merge its off-patent drugs business with Mylan, a maker of generic drugs, according to the Wall Street Journal. Increased competition from Indian rivals has hurt sales for both.
Over the weekend
India slashed taxes on electric vehicles and chargers. The finance ministry announced on Saturday that it’s reducing the goods and services tax for each to 5%, down from 12% for EVs and 18% for chargers. The country aims to clean up its air and become a hub of EV manufacturing.
Moscow police arrested over 1,300 protestors. Demonstrators called for fair elections and the ability of opposition and independent candidates to run for city council. Meanwhile opposition leader Alexei Navalny was hospitalized after suffering an acute allergic reaction, with one doctor saying he may have been poisoned.
The US will get a new director of national intelligence. Dan Coats will leave the post on Aug. 15, Donald Trump announced via Twitter, adding that he’ll nominate congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas to replace him. Coats has clashed with the US president over Russia, North Korea, and Trump’s own attacks on the intelligence community.
Iran called an emergency meeting on the 2015 nuclear deal “constructive.” But after Sunday’s gathering in Vienna, Iranian official Abbas Araqchi said that Tehran will continue to reduce its nuclear commitments if the pact can’t be salvaged.
The woman slated to replace Puerto Rico’s governor declined the position. Justice secretary Wanda Vazquez said that she told Ricardo Rossello, who is stepping down amid controversy, that she’s not interested.
The Fortnite World Cup concluded in New York. The esports finals marked the end of a 10-week competition involving 40 million players globally and $30 million in prizes paid to finalists. Among the winners, a teen from the UK snagged over $1 million, and one from the US earned $3 million.
Is it time to rëevaulate the diaeresis? The two little dots are there to protect us from dipthongs, so we don’t pronounce cöoperate as COOP-erate. But it’s an uncommon problem and a disappearing diacritical. While it’s common outside the English language, in the US it’s mostly The New Yorker carrying the torch, and its ground is shaky there. Öh well, we’ll always have the heavy metal umlaut. Rëexplore with us at the Quartz Obsession.
Matters of debate
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Overly relaxed regulators share the blame for the Boeing 737 Max crashes. If the US Federal Aviation Administration had been more vigilant, lives might have been saved.
Facebook should have a “quiet period” of no algorithm changes before a major election. The platform’s influence on global politics makes it responsible for safeguarding democracy.
Replacing ancient grasslands with new forest does more harm than good. Planting trees isn’t always the best move when it comes to environmental health.
A college student found a 65-million-year-old triceratops skull in North Dakota. He was rejected from an internship program shortly before making the significant fossil find.
Tourist photos from African safaris are valuable to scientists. The crowd-sourced pics enable researchers to make surprisingly accurate estimates of wildlife populations.
Convicted felons can run for US Congress from prison. Even if barred by local laws from voting in their state of residence, they can still be on the ballot in a federal election and hold office.
“Feel Better Dolls” were pulled from shops for being offensive. The black ragdolls designed for abuse were deemed racist and removed from several New Jersey dollar stores.
NASA will grow chili peppers in space next year. The fruiting blooms will improve astronauts’ meals and moods and advance researchers’ understanding of extraterrestrial gardening.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, safari pics, and Fortnite tips 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 Steve Mollman and Ephrat Livni.