Nida hits Hong Kong, hackers in Las Vegas, squirt-gun emoji

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Hackers and counter-hackers convene in Las Vegas. The annual Black Hat and Defcon events will focus on the risks and opportunities in the growing “internet of things,” including smartwatches, thermostats, cars, and other connected gadgets.

Pfizer reports its second-quarter earnings. The US’s largest drugmaker is expected to report a significant jump in sales and earnings. Investors will want to learn more about the company’s acquisition yesterday (Aug. 1) of Bamboo Therapeutics, a gene therapy biotech firm, and about its plans following the collapse of the $160 billion tax inversion deal to acquire Irish drugmaker Allergan.

Indonesia hosts the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum. The three-day conference in Jakarta will cover Islamic finance and Muslim-friendly tourism. Leaders and representatives from over 100 countries will attend.

While you were sleeping

Australia’s central bank cut interest rates to a record low. Worried about a weakening job market and persistently low inflation, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.5% in hopes of stoking economic growth. The move was largely expected.

Typhoon Nida hit Hong Kong. Packing heavy rain and winds of 100 km per hour (62 mph), the storm caused 150-plus flight cancellations and heavy rescheduling, stranding hundreds of passengers at the airport. Streets were mostly deserted, the Hong Kong Exchange called off the morning session, and authorities issued flood alerts for low-lying areas.

The owner of Gawker filed for bankruptcy. Nick Denton sought Chapter 11 protection after losing a court battle against former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, who was secretly bankrolled by tech billionaire Peter Thiel. Gawker Media itself has also filed for bankruptcy pending an appeal of Hogan’s $140 million verdict.

Verizon made another big acquisition. After purchasing Yahoo’s core business for $4.8 billion last week, the telecom giant continued its shopping spree with the $2.4 billion acquisition of Fleetmatics, which makes software for commercial trucking companies. Verizon hopes the deal will bolster its “internet of things” business.

Quartz obsession interlude

Aamna Mohdin on how the Olympics allow democracies to behave like dictatorships. “There’s a long history of host cities, most of which operate in democracies, temporarily enforcing far-reaching measures to ensure the Olympic Games go ahead without a glitch.” Read more here.

Quartz markets haiku

Oil prices plunge
As supply glut keeps swelling
Time for summer drive?

Matters of debate

Uber’s defeat shows just how hard it is for a foreign company to compete in China. A conciliatory stance toward Beijing left it bruised, if not totally broken.

Compulsory voting may be the key to democracy. Voter turnout is better, and citizens are more politically aware.

Millennials are apt to “confuse happiness with a sofa.” Pope Francis wants them to put down their smartphones (paywall) and engage with the world’s problems.

Surprising discoveries

MIT has sewer robots named Mario and Luigi. They’re mining urban sewage for data on human health.

Trump and Clinton were chosen by a mere 9% of Americans. The presidential candidates will be fighting to win over 191 million Americans (paywall) who are eligible to vote.

Apple replaced the revolver emoji with a squirt gun. A rifle icon was also rejected due to sensitivities about violence.

A Japanese museum’s creepy robot uses a neural network to govern its moves. Proximity, humidity, noise, and temperature all influence what it does next.

Miss Teen USA used racial slurs in her social media account. The newly crowned 18-year-old Texan said she had “personal struggles” at the time the messages were written and was not proud of her language.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, creepy robots, and sewer data to You can download our iPhone app or follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.