Upping the ante with Russia, Ukraine says it will seek NATO membership. Prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said he would ask parliament to give up the country’s nonaligned status. NATO’s secretary-general condemned Russia’s “blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” and called on Moscow to “cease its illegal military actions” in Ukraine.
Modi’s India is showing momentum. India’s economy grew 5.7% in the second quarter, compared to the same period last year. The increase was the fastest since the first quarter of 2012, and comes amid high expectations for newly installed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Optimism has also driven a stock market surge, with the benchmark BSE Sensex up 26% so far in 2014.
Syria’s humanitarian emergency. More than 10% of Syria’s population, or some 3 million people, have fled the country, and another 6.5 million—nearly half of its population—have been displaced because of the on-going civil war, the United Nations said today. The UN is calling it the “biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.”
Volcanoes in Iceland and Papua New Guinea are erupting. Due to the lack of volcanic ash, Iceland’s authorities have reopened airspace over the volcano Bárðarbunga, which had been closed after a fissure eruption began just after midnight. Iceland’s last volcanic eruption cost the global economy $5 billion after tens of thousands of global flights a day were cancelled. However, airspace near Papua New Guinea has been disrupted as Mount Tavurvur erupted earlier this morning, spewing ash as high as 60,000 feet (18 kilometers) and causing Qantas Airways to divert three flights.
Malaysia Airlines will delist, slash staff. Malaysia Airlines will fire 6,000 to 14,000 employees, and delist from the Kuala Lumpur exchange, state-run investor Khazanah Nasional said today. The company was struggling even before two tragedies this year—Khazanah Nasional said it will return to profitability in three years.
Abenomics takes a hit. Japan’s inflation rate held steady in July, household consumption dropped 5.9% for the month from the previous year, almost twice the expected loss, and the jobless rate unexpectedly spiked. The recovery in Japan’s job market may have run its course (paywall).
Google has been running a drone delivery program for two years. Dozens of Googlers are working on the Project Wing effort to build flying robots than can deliver products across a city in a few minutes, according to The Atlantic. The secret project is competitive with drone delivery research by Amazon and others.
Nearly 8% of Ebola deaths are amongst health workers. Since the start of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, 240 health workers have contracted the virus and 120 have died from it. The victims include five of the authors of a genetics study of the virus that was published today in Science. According to the World Health Organization, 1,552 people have died of Ebola since July.
Get ready for a bumper harvest. After interviewing locals, measuring ears, and counting bean pods in the rural US midwest, “crop tourists”—it’s a thing (paywall)—have forecast record yields this year for corn and soybeans. The plentiful harvest should help ease grain prices and restock other agricultural markets that aren’t experiencing optimal weather.