Hong Kong escalation, Trump’s health, meme merchants 

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What to watch for today

Hong Kong fears a bloody end to a standoff at a university. After two nights of fiery clashes, police sealed areas around Polytechnic University as they sought to oust protesters who built barricades around the school and blocked a nearby highway. Meanwhile, US senators could pass legislation that threatens sanctions if the territory’s autonomy is eroded.

Boris Johnson talks of tax cuts for British businesses. The UK prime minister will pledge tax relief for the construction industry and small firms in his speech to the Confederation of British Industry, while his political rivals will also woo the business lobby. The group is critical of Johnson’s plans to restrict immigration.

Russia returns captured naval ships to Ukraine. Kyiv has been pushing for the return of the three vessels seized last year as a goodwill gesture ahead of possible peace talks next month to resolve a conflict with Moscow-backed rebels in its eastern region.

Sri Lanka gets a new president. Strongman Gotabaya Rajapaksa will take the oath, having defeated ruling-party candidate Sajith Premadasa over the weekend. Known for his authoritarian leanings, Rajapaksa faces allegations of corruption and torture from his time as defense chief during the nation’s civil war.

Over the weekend

Hong Kong’s mask ban was declared unconstitutional. A court said the use of emergency powers to pass the restriction conflicted with rights guaranteed in the city. The ruling came after a tense weekend that saw Chinese soldiers emerge from one of their Hong Kong camps to clean up rubbish in shorts and t-shirts.

Donald Trump’s visit to the Walter Reed military hospital sparked speculation. The White House said the US president was beginning parts of his next physical early, but the Saturday visit wasn’t on his schedule unlike past annual exams.

Saudi Aramco set a price for its IPO. The state-owned oil giant said it plans to sell a 1.5% stake for up to $25.6 billion next month. That would value the group at around $1.7 trillion, provided it finds enough buyers for the Riyadh-listed shares. Saudi officials originally hoped to raise $100 billion at a $2 trillion valuation.

The New York Times obtained secret Chinese documents detailing mass detentions. The 403 pages detail how president Xi Jinping and top party officials created indoctrination camps for up to 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. A “member of the Chinese political establishment” leaked the information.

Prince Andrew spoke about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. In a BBC interview, Queen Elizabeth’s second son denied having sex with a 17-year-old and said time spent with Epstein, the American financier charged with sex trafficking who took his own life in prison, showed “the wrong judgment.” British media panned the prince’s “excruciating” performance.

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Matters of Debate

Universities should offer childcare. It can boost college completion rates by helping student parents juggle competing demands.

Aramco’s shares will be a hard sell. Security concerns and climate worries make it a bad time for the oil giant to be having its IPO.

It’s up to billionaires to make big philanthropic donations. Mere multimillionaires say they can’t make enough of an impact.

Surprising discoveries

A Washington prison offered inmates unattainable stress-relief tips. A flyer suggested those headed to solitary confinement “plant a tree” or “go on a picnic.”

Wine from Leonardo da Vinci’s resurrected vineyard is ready. The first 330 bottles will be sold later this year. Saluti!

Next year, the Baltimore Museum of Art will only acquire works by women. The move comes amid growing awareness of gender disparities in museum and gallery collections.

Two of America’s biggest coal plants closed this month. Together, the two retirements equal all the emission reductions from coal plant shutdowns in 2015.

Meme merchants are thriving on Amazon. They trawl social media for viral phrases to plaster on mugs and shirts.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, lumps of coal, and realistic stress-relief tips to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Tripti Lahiri and edited by Isabella Steger.