US-China talks, Trudeau’s brownface, Pete’s sooty face

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

US-China get back to talking. Trade negotiators meet in Washington for the first time in nearly two months as the world’s two largest economies look for a way to end the cycle of escalating tariffs. High-level talks are planned for October.

The US whistleblower complaint gets a hearing. The House intelligence committee will ask Michael Atkinson, who oversees federal intelligence agencies, about allegations that Donald Trump made a troubling “promise” to a foreign leader, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Trump’s Afghan envoy briefs US lawmakers. At a classified briefing, Zalmay Khalilzad will answer questions from the House foreign affairs committee on the now-stalled peace talks with the Taliban. This morning, a truck bomb killed at least 30 people near a hospital in southern Afghanistan.

While you were sleeping

Japanese nuclear executives were cleared. Three former Tokyo Electric Power Company managers were found not guilty of failing to prevent the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Justin Trudeau said sorry for trying “brownface.” The Canadian prime minister, who’s in the middle of an election campaign, said he “deeply regretteddarkening his skin for a 2001 costume party at a school in which he worked as a teacher.

The US accused Iran of an “act of war.” Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said evidence presented by Saudi Arabia proved Tehran “unquestionably sponsored” last week’s attacks on Saudi oil facilities. But the US president said there were “many options” short of war.

The prime minister who launched Brexit tells all. David Cameron, who called the 2016 EU referendum, admitted to the BBC that Britain’s politics is frozen and society divided as a result. His memoirs, out today, are already a bestseller.

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Electric vehicle development in India has been stuck in a chicken-and-egg situation for years, with consumers hesitating to embrace the environmentally-friendly mode of transportation without a supporting infrastructure, and companies holding back from investing without high demand. Among those determined to break the limbo and develop an ecosystem of their own: Ola. Learn how and why as part of our field guide on India’s own ride-hailing giant.

Quartz Obsession

Area 51 is like catnip to UFO enthusiasts. The classified military facility in Nevada has a 64-year history of hosting experimental espionage aircraft. And, according to true believers, visitors from beyond the planet. What’s the story behind this remote patch of desert real estate? The truth is out there, and the Quartz Obsession is on it.

Matters of debate

Join the conversation on the Quartz app!

We can’t handle a global pandemic. Countries tend only to protect themselves, not the rest of the world.

Everyone should have the right to return. The world gave it to Israelis, so why not other displaced native populations?

Money can’t buy you time. The happiness that comes with having more free time has no ceiling.

Surprising discoveries

It took an engineer to open an umbrella-jammed door. A hole had to be drilled in the ceiling of a Washington office for workers to get back in.

Chicago’s pigeons illustrate the problem with their poop. An Illinois lawmaker got pooped on while talking to a TV reporter.

Sea urchins have self-sharpening teeth. And scientists are hoping to use that power to make cutting-edge tools.

Instagram won’t allow “get thin quick” promotions. It’s part of a broader clampdown on the cosmetic surgery and diet industries.

A Dutch Christmas figure is dropping blackface… sort of. The controversially made-up “Black Petes” will now have “sooty” ones.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, well-behaved pigeons, and hungry sea urchins to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Hasit Shah and Rashmee Roshan Lall.