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What to watch for today
Germany’s Merkel heads to China. Hong Kong will loom large over chancellor Angela Merkel’s three-day visit to Beijing after chief executive Carrie Lam officially pulled the contentious extradition bill following months of protests. Merkel is also expected to focus on advancing an EU-China trade deal as she deals with slow economic growth back home.
South Korea’s Moon makes a historic visit to Laos. After stops in Thailand and Myanmar, president Moon Jae-in will visit Laos—the first-ever visit made by any South Korean leader—to discuss topics including hydroelectric power and agriculture with Laotian government leaders.
Italy swears in a new government. The country’s anti-establishment and center-left parties formed a new coalition after the 14-month-old right-leaning government fell apart following an attempt to seize power by the populist leader, Matteo Salvini. The new government faces fresh votes of confidence in parliament as soon as this week.
While you were sleeping
UK parliamentarians approved a bill to delay Brexit. Members voted against a no-deal Brexit for the third time, in effect extending the deadline to withdraw from the European Union past October 31 and likely into 2020. A subsequent vote for snap elections tabled by prime minister Boris Johnson also failed, delivering the new head of government’s fourth defeat out of the four votes taken under his tenure.
The trade gap between the US and China widened. New US Commerce Department data revealed that China’s surplus over the US surged to a six-month high against the backdrop of an overall slowdown in bilateral trade. Meanwhile, politically-sensitive IT giant Huawei is not expected to feature in any trade discussions, as Trump ruled it out on Wednesday over national security concerns.
Google agrees to fine over child privacy laws. Alphabet subsidiaries Google and YouTube will pay the Federal Trade Commission $170 million for collecting sensitive information from minors without parental consent.
New images show Hurricane Dorian’s devastation. Aerial photos offer a new view of the scale of destruction to the Bahamas, where the Red Cross says some 13,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Slack shares plummeted after its first earnings report. The newly public company reported 58% revenue growth year over year—but vulnerability to growing competition and costly outages helped send the stock down over 10% after hours.
WeWork added its first female board member. Following criticism of its lack of diversity, Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei is joining the company’s all-male board just before the highly-anticipated IPO.
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Big banks should look at the Uber story in fear. In a conversation with Quartz Future of Finance editor John Detrixhe, Barclays’ former CEO Antony Jenkins says that the regulatory “moat” around established banking institutions is being picked apart by neobanks, robo-advisors, fintech startups, and the like. Is there a cheaper way to run international finance at scale? Find out more in today’s member exclusive interview.
Vacuum cleaners are supposed to suck. The household cleaning powerhouses were invented by an asthmatic janitor whose dusty broom was making him sick, and their basic design hasn’t changed all that much in the hundred years since. From Rube Goldberg contraption to a rolling robot, the Quartz Obsession takes it all in.
Matters of debate
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Let your employees wear shorts. As more organizations welcome “business casual” attire, some wonder if showing a little knee could cost a promotion.
Weight loss and body positivity are not enemies. A new movie raises the question of how culture and society can promote exercise without fatphobia and body-shaming.
We’re ignoring ageism in the workplace. A series of lawsuits have spread awareness about ageism, but companies are failing to train employees on combatting age-related bias.
Squirrels eavesdrop on talk among birds. Bid shrieks and chirps help the furry animals make sure areas are clear to search for food.
Psychedelics researchers receive their largest-ever donation. John Hopkins Medicine received $17 million to look into all things magic mushrooms.
Unknown texts by the “Father of Liberalism” discovered. The centuries-old manuscripts of English philosopher John Locke are said to reveal unexpected considerations of social tolerance.
All languages are interpreted equally. Information-rich “efficient” languages are spoken more slowly, meaning that all languages transmit information at roughly the same speed.
Monkey-to-man charts get evolution all wrong. These images misrepresent how evolution really works—and run the risk of reinforcing the public’s misconceptions.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, coalition partners, and spying squirrels to 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 Patrick deHahn and Max Lockie.