Trudeau’s campaign, Abe’s new cabinet, Delhi high life

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Joshua Wong talks to German students. The Hong Kong democracy activist continues his Berlin tour with a discussion at Humboldt University, after earlier infuriating Beijing by meeting with German foreign minister Heiko Maas. Meanwhile, several US lawmakers have asked the Trump administration to assess Hong Kong’s special status under US law, fearing it might be abused by China to acquire sensitive American technologies.

Catalan separatists rally. Leaders of the fractured independence movement say this year’s National Day demonstration has been the “most difficult” one to organize in recent memory. The rally comes just weeks before Spain’s top court is set to deliver verdicts against 12 leaders who led Catalonia’s failed attempt to secede in 2017.

Justin Trudeau launches his election campaign. The Canadian prime minister and Liberal Party leader will officially begin his fight for a second term, after a series of scandals that have included a damaging ethics controversy. Polls indicate a tight race with the opposition Conservative Party in next months’ vote.

While you were sleeping

A Trump-backed Republican won a bellwether special election. GOP candidate Dan Bishop won out over his Democratic opponent for a North Carolina House seat, a vote that was being closely watched for clues to Republican prospects next year. The narrow margin of victory may not be enough to dispell their worries, especially as chaos continues in the White House, now in the market for a fourth national security adviser.  

Shinzo Abe made some changes. The Japanese prime minister replaced key cabinet members, with Taro Kono, earlier foreign minister, taking over from defense minister Takeshi Iwaya, criticized for appearing too friendly to South Korea amid rising tensions. Toshimitsu Motegi is Japan’s new top diplomat, while a potential political heir to Abe was appointed environment minister.

South Korea filed a WTO complaint against Japan’s export curbs. The move, which calls restrictions Tokyo placed on exports to its neighbor of chemicals crucial for phone chips and displays “politically motivated,” marks another escalation of the trade spat between the two countries.

Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex parts of the West Bank. The Israeli prime minister promised that Israel would exert sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea, and all Israeli settlements in the West Bank if his party wins next week’s general election. Netanyahu said none of these moves would stand in the way of reaching a peace deal—Palestinians disagreed.

Robert Mugabe’s body left Singapore. The former president of Zimbabwe died in a Singapore hospital last week. His casket will arrive in capital Harare this afternoon, where he will lie in state for three days before a weekend funeral.

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Big tobacco isn’t going anywhere—it’s merely teaming up with tech to reinvent smoking. Reporter Jenni Avins talked to Philip Morris International’s COO Jacek Olczak about how vaping is breathing new life into tobacco’s hopes for the future, even as it raises new health concerns. See what’s new in our ongoing vaping field guide.

Quartz Obsession

“Happy Birthday to You” is the most-sung ditty in the English language. And while it may seem hard to imagine a world without the tune, it’s a relatively recent invention—a slightly awkward, ubiquitous tradition that also feels deeply personal. But where did it come from? The Quartz Obsession blows out the candles and makes a wish.

Matters of debate

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Let kids vote. They’re hardly less informed than the average adult, and participating now could turn them into lifelong voters.

We may have free will after all. A landmark study that seemed to show we don’t control our own decisions had some fatal scientific flaws.

Defensive bosses can still be corrected. Do your research, time your comments, make suggestions, and accept that you might be ignored.

Surprising discoveries

Delhi and Mumbai consume a lot of weed. The former now out-tokes Los Angeles, while the latter is higher than London.

Architects are making concrete walls look like crumpled paper. Used in Washington DC’s Kennedy Center expansion, the newly-developed “crinkled concrete” is pushing the limits of the building material.

There’s a new electric eel in town. Electrophorus voltai delivers the most shocking shocks—as high as 860 volts—but it’s still not enough to seriously injure humans.

Serial killers are out there. And in greater numbers than we think.

Ghost crabs have terrifying stomach rumbles. The crustaceans scare off enemies with noises from within their gut, freeing their claws for fighting and defense.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, gut alarms, and eel-based renewable energy plans to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Mary Hui and edited by Tripti Lahiri.