Hong Kong strike, Jakarta blackout, fake guac

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Protestors try to shut down Hong Kong. After a ninth weekend of rallies, activists have called upon civil servants to stage a general strike that would effectively bring the city to a halt. Protesters are demanding the full withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill.

The US and South Korea begin military drills. North Korea launched short-range missiles last week in an apparent reaction to the planned exercises, but South Korean officials said the drills, scheduled to last over a week, will proceed regardless.

HSBC releases earnings. Analysts expect the Asia-focused bank to post solid midyear results, following a better-than-expected first quarter. Rival Standard Chartered reported improved profits in its own half-year tally, citing fewer bad loans among other factors.

Over the weekend

The US endured two mass shootings. One gunman killed at least nine people and injured 16 more in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday, while another murdered 20 and injured dozens of others in El Paso, Texas, a day earlier. That brought the number of mass shootings in the US to 292 so far this year.

A massive blackout struck Jakarta. The Indonesian capital and other parts of Java lost electricity—in some cases for over eight hours—due to power-plant glitches that affected tens of millions of people. The outage disrupted traffic lights, ATMs, cellular services, and much else.

Russia cracked down on protestors again. In Moscow police detained over 1,000 demonstrators calling for free elections, in a scene similar to the week before. Opposition activists vowed to hold rallies again next weekend.

The US and Japan agreed on trade-deal timing. The two sides aim to have a broad pact in place by the time Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe meets Trump in New York in September, the Nikkei reported. Japan has been reluctant to open up its agriculture sector.

Iran took another oil tanker. Authorities announced the seizure on state-run media Sunday, saying it happened earlier in the week and that the ship was smuggling fuel. Facing growing tensions with the West, Iran has stepped up patrols in the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway for the oil industry.

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Matters of debate

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The Perseid meteor shower is best viewed without gadgets. Ditch the telescope and binoculars and just look up.

Electric scooters aren’t that eco-friendly. Manufacturing, transporting, and maintaining them produces plenty of emissions.

Newsrooms should look beyond elite schools for interns. Journalism suffers without diversity.

Surprising discoveries

North Korea features Donald Trump on its stamps. One shows the US president shaking hands with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

US restaurants are resorting to fake guacamole. The phony stuff incorporates squash or other alien veggies, with soaring avocado prices to blame.

An Iranian metal duo avoided jail by fleeing to Norway. Their “anti-regime lyrics” did not sit well with a judge in Tehran.

The Pentagon is testing mass-surveillance balloons over US states. Privacy advocates are none too pleased and warn that all kinds of data is likely being collected.

A growing love of beards forced Gillette to shave off $8 billion. Men are ditching razors and it isn’t good for business.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Iranian metal music, and beard-trimming kits to hi@qz.com. 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 Pete Gelling.