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What to watch for today
Iran talks with Japan. Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives in Yokohama for a one-on-one with his counterpart Taro Kono, before possibly meeting with prime minister Shinzo Abe tomorrow. US president Donald Trump has called on allies to close ranks against Iran as tensions rise in the Persian Gulf, but Japan has remained noncommittal.
Italy’s political crisis faces a deadline. With the Five Star Movement and the Partito Democratico struggling to decide on a new leader after the resignation of prime minister Giuseppe Conte, president Sergio Mattarella has given the two parties until today to work it out. If they fail to do so, Mattarella will likely appoint a caretaker government until an election.
The UK opposition meet to avert a no-deal Brexit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is convening a meeting with members of parties including the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, as well as rebel Tories, to discuss how they can prevent the UK from crashing out of the EU. Prime minister Boris Johnson has refused to rule out shutting down parliament as a way of forcing through Brexit.
Greta Thunberg arrives in New York. The 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist expects to complete her carbon-free voyage across the Atlantic today, after two weeks on a yacht. She will attend a UN summit on zero emissions next month.
While you were sleeping
A US judge ruled on a landmark opioid case. The Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $572 million for its role in creating an addiction epidemic. Though it’s the first US ruling to shift accountability to drugmakers, the fine is much lower than the penalty prosecutors asked for, and shares of J&J and other manufacturers rose on the news.
China arrested an Australian citizen for spying. Writer and political commentator Yang Hengjun, who has been in detention in Beijing since January, was formally charged today for espionage, a crime that is punishable by death. Foreign minister Marisa Payne said that the allegations of espionage were groundless.
A top tennis umpire was fired for breaking interview rules. Damian Steiner, who recently presided over the Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was dismissed by the ATP men’s circuit after he gave interviews to Argentinian media without permission. He will not be umpiring at the upcoming US Open.
Volkswagen’s former CEO and chairman died. Ferdinand Piech, who presided over the German company’s expansion into a global empire that included brands such as Skoda, Porsche, and Bentley, was 82. His grandfather invented the VW Beetle in 1934.
Everybody wants a piece of Africa, but they’ll all have to catch up with China, first. Our newest field guide starts with Abdi Latif Dahir’s state of play, which tells the story of how China’s engagement on the continent lies at the nexus of ambition, pragmatism, and most importantly, convenience.
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Faraday cages are our most freeing lockdown. They keep microwaves away from us, protect airline passengers from lightning, let workers repair high-voltage power lines, and let us shut up our devices for a few peaceful minutes. The Sistine Chapel was even turned into a Faraday cage to keep news of the new Pope from leaking. Step inside at the Quartz Obsession.
Matters of debate
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Bigger portions aren’t always a better value. A new nutritional group is trying to convince Americans that ordering extra large isn’t an economic imperative.
Indonesia’s capital relocation is a good idea. Faced with the specter of climate change, more Asian countries should consider expanding or building new inland cities.
The G7 is pointless. International cooperation and multilateral diplomacy belong to a bygone era.
Fried chicken is going meatless. KFC is partnering with Beyond Meat to debut the plant-based alternative in Atlanta today.
People went nuts for photos of the Thai king’s consort. The palace published rare pictures of 34-year-old Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, causing its website to crash.
A dead white rhino may become a father. Conservationists collected eggs from the last female northern white rhinos in Kenya to fertilize them with sperm from the late last male.
The BBC is launching a geographically sensitive voice assistant. The device, known as Beeb, will be able to understand regional British accents.
A massive floating rock is headed for Australia. The pumice mass—bigger than 20,000 football fields—resulted from an underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Thai royal photos, and rhino eggs email@example.com. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Isabella Steger and edited by Tripti Lahiri.