Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers speak up. A district judge is set to close the case against the American financier who is charged with sex trafficking, given his Aug. 10 suicide in a New York jail. Up to 30 women could speak at the hearing, with more accusers expected to bring lawsuits against his estate.
Italy’s political crisis faces a deadline. The Five Star Movement and the opposition Partito Democratico may be close to an agreement on a new coalition government despite protests from the Five Star’s anti-establishment activists. President Sergio Mattarella has given the two parties until today to work it out, or face a snap election.
The UK opposition meet to avert a no-deal Brexit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is convening a meeting with the Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and even governing Tory rebels to discuss ways to prevent Britain crashing out of the EU on Oct. 31. 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
Iran rebuffed Donald Trump. Hassan Rouhani said he won’t meet the US president—a day after Trump floated the idea—unless sanctions are lifted. Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister arrives today in Japan for talks, amid a US push for allies to close ranks against any Iranian threat to oil tankers.
Brazil’s president spurned wildfire aid. Though deforestation-linked fires are burning at a record rate in the Amazon, Jair Bolsonaro turned down the G7 countries’ offer of $22 million to tackle them. Bolsonaro has accused France of treating Brazil like a colony.
Drugmakers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene neared a tie-up. The two pharma companies, which focus on cancer medicines, are a step closer to a deal after Amgen agreed to purchase Celgene’s psoriasis medicine for $13 billion. The sale is meant to allay anti-competitive concerns raised by the US Federal Trade Commission.
China said it will hold more drills near Taiwan… The exercises are due this week in the East China Sea, near the self-ruled island nation. It will mark the third such drill in a month, and follows a recent US decision to approve billions in arms sales to Taiwan.
…and China arrested an Australian citizen for spying. Chinese-born writer and political commentator Yang Hengjun, who has been in detention in Beijing since January, was formally charged for espionage, a crime that is punishable by death. Australia’s foreign minister called the allegations groundless.
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 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 last male who died in March 2018.
The BBC is launching a geographically sensitive voice assistant. The device, known as Beeb, will be able to understand regional British accents.
There could be millions of different blood types. Scientists have, so far, only grouped them into the most common categories—A, B, AB, and O.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Thai royal photos, and rhino eggs firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Adam Rasmi, Rashmee Roshan Lall and Jason Karaian.