Austria’s nail-biting election, Vietnam embargo ends, man-made meteor showers

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Austria learns whether it’s getting a far-right president. The potential election of the Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer is considered a test of whether nationalist parties in Europe will manage to further capitalize on the migrant crisis. The vote is so close that postal votes will determine the outcome.

UN humanitarian summit begins. Hundreds of world leaders and politicians are meeting in Istanbul to discuss reform of the global humanitarian system. Oxfam has called it an “expensive talking shop” and Doctors Without Borders pulled out completely, saying it doesn’t believe those assembled have any real desire to make serious commitments.

The African Economic Outlook report. The collaboration between the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre, and the UN Development Programme offers an overview (paywall) of economic and social development across 54 African countries, as well as forecasts for the next two years.

Over the weekend

The US lifted its arms embargo on Vietnam. President Barack Obama announced the end of the decades-long embargo at the start of his three-day visit to Hanoi on Monday. This annoyed China; the government’s Xinhua news agency said on Sunday that the rapprochement shouldn’t be used ”as a tool to threaten or even damage the strategic interests of a third country.”

Bayer shares fell (again) on a Monsanto deal. Shares in the German chemicals giant fell 3% today on confirmation of Bayer’s $62-billion cash offer for Monsanto. If the deal is approved by regulators, it would create the world’s largest agribusiness—and would be the biggest corporate takeover ever by a German company.

Tencent eyed Softbank’s Supercell stake. The Japanese telecoms company is said to be in talks with Tencent about offloading (paywall) its 73% stake in Supercell, the Finnish mobile games company. If the deal goes through, it would create a powerful global games company that owns some of the world’s highest-grossing mobile and PC games.

India launched a test version of its domestic space shuttle. The short flight, which blasted off at 7am local time on Monday morning and landed in the Bay of Bengal, is a milestone toward India’s use of such reusable spacecraft.

Axa quit cigarettes. The world’s largest insurer will stop investing in the tobacco industry and sell its $1.9 billion worth of investments. It said its role was more about prevention rather than cure and expects the move to result in fewer claims for tobacco-related illnesses. 

Quartz obsession interlude

Mike Murphy on the state of virtual-reality systems. “Apple is in a bit of a rut right now. Sales of the iPhone, Mac, and iPad are down, and so far, the Apple Watch hasn’t moved the needle in the way other recent Apple product launches have. But… if current consumer VR devices are anything to go by, it’s highly unlikely that Apple will be releasing a VR system anytime soon.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Brexit is the biggest risk to global growth. Even the Bank of Japan thinks a UK vote to leave the EU is a huge threat to the world economy.

A software-powered world needs liberal-arts majors. Creative intuition and a desire to break convention come in handy when writing code.

There’s a strategic reason why some women scientists look “frumpy.” Young scientists are advised that anyone who looks fashionable signals a lack of dedication to science, or worse, a preoccupation with money.

Surprising discoveries

Tim Cook made a small bit of history in India. It’s the first time the prime minister has hosted an openly gay CEO in a country where homosexuality remains a crime.

Republicans are rallying behind Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls has narrowed to just three percentage points (paywall).

A four-armed robot can now improvise music as well as human bandmates. And it can play chord structures that would be physically impossible for humans to hit.

A man-made meteor shower could open the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A Japanese startup aims to launch the artificial shooting stars by satellite.

Trees rest their branches at night. Scientists are studying whether the drooping can be likened to a sleep cycle.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robot virtuosos, and snoozing trees to You can download our iPhone app or follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.