Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Diplomats gather in Bangkok. Representatives from more than 30 countries meet to discuss sustainable growth and environmental issues across Southeast Asia at the 52nd Foreign Ministers’ Meeting today through Saturday (Aug. 3). US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arrive at the event tomorrow.
Boris Johnson goes to Scotland. The newly installed prime minister heads north to try and improve ties with a part of the UK that voted to remain in the EU in 2016. While Johnson has committed to preparing for a no-deal Brexit, the Conservative party’s Scottish leader Ruth Davidson is against crashing out without a deal.
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.
Investors bite into Beyond Meat. The plant-based meat company saw its shares reach a record-high last week, and its second-quarter earnings could beat expectations. After a highly successful IPO earlier this year, the company is set to battle increased competition from other vegetarian-friendly offerings.
Over the weekend
Trump replaced the US director of national intelligence. Dan Coats will leave the post on Aug. 15, the president announced via Twitter, adding that he’ll nominate congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas as his replacement. Coats has clashed with the US president over Russia, North Korea, and Trump’s own attacks on the intelligence community.
Three people were killed by a gunman at a California food festival. At least 15 people were also injured during the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, before police arrived at the scene and killed the assailant. Authorities suspect a second person was involved; no motive has been determined yet for the attack.
Moscow police arrested over 1,300 protestors… Demonstrators were calling for fair elections and for independent candidates to be able to run for city council. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was hospitalized after suffering an acute allergic reaction, with one doctor saying he may have been poisoned.
…while China responded to the civil unrest in Hong Kong. Its representative office backed the government and police in a rare press conference following weeks of protests over an extradition bill, police brutality, and other issues. Police fired huge amounts of tear gas to disperse an unauthorized protest yesterday in the financial district.
The woman slated to replace Puerto Rico’s governor declined the position. Justice secretary Wanda Vázquez said that she told Ricardo Rosselló, who is stepping down amid controversy, that she’s not interested.
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Our deep dive this week focuses on the modern art economy and how China became a global art powerhouse seemingly overnight. Geopolitics reporter Annalisa Merelli reports on what propelled the growth, what kind of art China makes, buys, and sells, and, as with so much in China, what role the state plays. We also have three member conference calls scheduled this week, starting with Quartz tech editor Mike Murphy talking today about the competitive war for cloud services.
Is it time to reëvaulate the diaeresis? The two little dots are there to protect us from dipthongs, so we don’t pronounce coöperate 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. Reëxplore with us at the Quartz Obsession.
Matters of debate
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Regulators share the blame for the Boeing 737 Max crashes. A more vigilant US Federal Aviation Administration could have saved lives.
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… He had been rejected for a museum internship shortly before making the find in North Dakota.
…while a teenager snagged a $3 million Fortnite prize. The 10-week competition, involving 40 million players worldwide, saw winners walk away with $30 million in prize money.
Tourist photos from African safaris are scientifically valuable. The crowd-sourced pics enable researchers to make surprisingly accurate estimates of wildlife populations.
Ethiopia aims to break a tree planting record. It’s starting with 200 million saplings today as part of a reforestation drive.
Two family members just won the World Thumb Wrestling Championship. A son and his mother-in-law won the men and women’s titles in the annual event.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, safari pics, and thumb war strategies 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 by Adam Rasmi and edited by Jackie Bischof.