What to watch for today
Euro-zone growth won’t be pretty. Economists fear the 18-nation currency bloc will see GDP expand by just 0.1% with Germany and France dragging the economy down, after Russian sanctions took their toll on Germany’s economic confidence in yesterday’s ZEW indicators. The first quarter saw a measly 0.2% growth rate.
A rate cut in Korea. The South Korean central bank will likely cut interest rates to 2.25% from 2.50%, thereby lowering borrowing costs to lend a hand to the government’s recent round of stimulus policies. It would be the first rate cut since May 2013.
Can Israel and Hamas restore their ceasefire? Though the two sides reached a deal on Wednesday for a further five-day ceasefire, rockets were launched from Gaza shortly before the previous one expired, and Israel retaliated with air strikes. There has been no progress in talks on a more durable truce.
The pope shows Asia he cares. Pope Francis will begin the first papal trip to East Asia in 25 years, to participate in Asian Youth Day in Seoul. He’s expected to warn against consumerism and growing social inequality, but the Catholic Church clearly sees Asia as a growth opportunity.
What’s happening with those Russian “aid trucks”? The convoy of nearly 300 unmarked white trucks could reach the Ukrainian border Wednesday night local time, but it’s not clear where they are right now. Kyiv has vowed to block the convoy, which it fears is a Trojan horse, unless the Red Cross handles distribution.
While you were sleeping
A plane crash killed a Brazilian presidential candidate. The socialist party’s Eduardo Campos and six others died outside the city of Santos after the private jet landed in bad weather. It’s not clear yet what this will mean for the October 5 election; Campos was polling third.
The US might put (non-fighting) boots on the ground in Iraq. The US might send troops to bring aid and help rescue the Yazidi refugees stranded on a mountaintop, but won’t deploy them against ISIL, an official said. France said it would start arming Kurdish forces fighting ISIL.
Bill Ackman wants average investors to share his wealth, and add to it. The hedge-fund investor known for his persistent attacks on nutritional-drinks maker Herbalife plans to take his firm, Pershing Square Holdings, worth $15 billion, public, so he can raise money to place bets against even more companies.
SeaWorld’s stock got soaked. The shares plunged as much as 35% after the company posted weak second-quarter earnings and slashed revenue expectations, largely due to the success of animal rights activists protesting its use of captive killer whales.
Cisco wielded the axe. Though its earnings were slightly better than expected, the market leader in networking equipment said it would cut 6,000 jobs, or 8% of its workforce, making for a total of 18,000 job lost in three years. Demand for Cisco’s hardware has been slowing as telcos are increasingly able to replace it with software.
A woman won the Fields Medal. Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian working in the US, became the first female winner in the 78-year history of the world’s top mathematics prize, for her work in complex geometry. It comes at a time when US tech companies are under fire for not hiring more women.
Quartz obsession interlude
Bobby Ghosh provides a short history of the terrorists who call themselves the “Islamic State.” “The group began over two decades ago as a fervid fantasy in the mind of a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A onetime street thug, he arrived in Afghanistan as a mujahideen wannabe in 1989, a year too late to fight the Soviet Union. He went back home to Jordan, and remained a fringe figure in the international violent ‘jihad’ for much of the following decade. He returned to Afghanistan to set up a training camp for terrorists, and met Osama bin Laden in 1999, but chose not to join al-Qaeda.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The news is based on myths. Telling stories using familiar narratives helps readers and viewers make sense of complex topics.
For Israelis, this Gaza war is different. It will leave the country much more rattled and scared than after its previous incursions into Gaza.
Secure buildings don’t have to be ugly. US embassies could have both high security and good design.
Brain-training won’t make your kids smarter. The programs make big promises, but they’re a waste of time.
This salmon cannon fires up to 40 fish a minute. It helps them migrate upstream over obstructions like dams.
A 15-year-old designed a device to help his grandfather with Alzheimer’s. The pressure sensor in a sock alerts his aunt when his grandfather goes wandering.
The last of Madonna’s “Vogue” icons is dead. Lauren Bacall, who died yesterday, was the last of 16 entertainment legends named in Madonna’s hit song from 1990.
Not your ordinary catwalk. Models in this Chinese contest must walk across a pit of ground beetles (link in Chinese).
Your selfies will be used to sell you things. New software can analyze what’s in the pictures and show you ads based on them.
Super Mario and Cookie Monster want to join a union. Some 50 people who work as costumed characters in New York’s Times Square want the right to get paid for taking pictures with tourists.