Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Gaza reignites, Ballmer departs, Japan exports rise, lost baggage

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

What to watch for today

The Gaza war reignites. Eleven more people have been killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, including the wife and infant son of Hamas’s military leader, following the breakdown of ceasefire negotiations. Israel claims rocket were fired from Gaza eight hours before a 24-hour ceasefire extension expired. Israel has recalled its negotiators from Cairo.

Ferguson awaits Eric Holder. The US attorney general will meet with local leaders in Missouri after more than a week of protests and rioting. Tensions are high again after police in nearby St. Louis fatally shot a 23-year-old black man armed with a knife. A Missouri grand jury will begin to hear evidence in the Michael Brown case.

Brazil’s election gets a fresh jolt of energy. The Brazilian Socialist Party is expected to announce Marina Silva as its presidential candidate, after Eduardo Campos died in a plane crash last week. A poll last week showed that Silva, a former environment minister who was Campos’s vice-presidential running mate, could beat the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff.

Hewlett-Packard and Staples will report. Computing giant HP is restructuring, and revenue is expected to fall by 0.8%. Staples, the biggest US retailer of office supplies, has had a difficult year with competition from Amazon, Walmart,  and even local drugstores. Revenues are expected to decline by 2.9%.

A spotlight on US and UK interest rates. The Fed and the Bank of England release minutes from their July and August meetings, respectively. Both will provide insight into when an interest rate hike is likely as the US is approaching its inflation goal (paywall) and Britain’s economy shows mixed signals. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 earlier this month in favor of keeping rates at 0.5%, the minutes show.

Pakistan sit-in continues. Protesters led by opposition politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahir ul Qadri cut through barbed wire and breached barricades to enter Islamabad’s “red zone.” Khan called on demonstrators to make a “Tahrir Square” outside parliament to pressure prime minister Nawaz Sharif to step down. No clashes were reported and lawmakers will discuss the crisis in parliament.

While you were sleeping

Good and bad news for Shinzo Abe. Japan’s trade deficit widened (paywall) again as imports rose 2.3%. Still, Japan’s exports rose for the first time in three months, a sign that overseas demand is recovering, thanks to automobile and electric machinery shipments. Last month’s unexpectedly wide trade deficit raised serious doubts about prime minister Abe’s growth strategy (paywall).

The father of modern yoga has died. Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (better known as BKS) Iyengar is the man who introduced the West to yoga. He died in Pune, India, at age 95, after a unlikely rise from a sickly childhood.

Steve Ballmer left Microsoft’s board. Ballmer, who stepped down as Microsoft CEO in February, is quitting the company’s board too after 14 years. But don’t feel sorry for him: He owns more Microsoft stock than Bill Gates, and has a new basketball team to play with.

ISIL’s gruesome message. The group released a video showing the beheading of a man they identified as American journalist James Foley. The US is working to verify the video’s authenticity. The British foreign secretary has condemned the killing and said the video appeared genuine. The group also threatened to kill journalist Steven Sotloff unless the US stops bombing northern Iraq. Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, the grand mufti, pronounced ISIL “enemy number one” of Islam.

Landslides in Japan. Torrential rains caused landslides on the outskirts of Hiroshima, killing at least 27 people.

Citigroup mulls a Japan exit. The US bank might halt its retail banking operations in Japan, where it has 33 branches. Interest rates have hit rock-bottom and domestic competition is stiff, causing other foreign banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered to pull out in recent years.

Ukraine’s forces edge closer to Donetsk. Government troops captured a town near the rebel-held city. Heavy street battles continued in nearby Luhansk, where an estimated 250,000 residents are trapped without electricity and water, near where a refugee convoy was attacked on Monday; separatist rebels are still denying involvement. The Ukrainian and Russian presidents are set to meet next week.

The Liberian government declared a curfew. In an attempt to contain the Ebola outbreak, the country hardest hit has introduced a curfew from 9pm to 6am in Monrovia and quarantined a slum. According to the latest WHO figures, the outbreak has killed over 1,229 people.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on why every smartphone app seems to want you to turn on notifications. “Smartphone users who turn on notifications use those applications far more often than people with alerts turned off. They are also much less likely to use an app only once before abandoning it. ‘On average, 62% of users will return to the app the following month if they are being engaged with push messaging, whereas only 32% of users will return if not prompted with push,’ according to Localytics.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

America does not value black lives. That’s the message sent when police kill an unarmed black man with no repercussions.

Central bankers are contributing to a peculiar calm in global markets. Their loose monetary policy is encouraging investors to take more risks through bonds and equities.

The EU should challenge China on disputed waters. Europe can’t rely on the US alone to guarantee freedom of the high seas.

Harry Potter shaped millennial’s politics. Because of Harry and his friends, an entire generation is more likely to support equality and less likely to tolerate authoritarianism, violence, and torture.

Immigration detention is foolish business. In the US an arbitrary quota of 34,000 detainees at any given time doesn’t stop people from wanting to enter the country and even gets criticism from the very department enforcing it.

Surprising discoveries

The Honda Accord is the most stolen car in the US. Car thieves prefer less fancy cars because they’re easier to take apart and sell in parts.

Richard III drank a bottle of wine daily. Studies of his teeth and bones show he also had a fondness for eating swan, heron, and egret.

A hard-to-refute reason for canceling the Economist. One reader spent less time reading in the bathroom, with positive health effects.

Chechnya’s president interrogated 1,000 villagers about his lost iPhone. Well, he needed it; he’s famous on Instagram, after all.

A Superman comic is worth at least $2 million. With five days left to go, an eBay auction could easily beat the last record for a copy of the series, which was $2.16 million.

Lost baggage from US flights ends up in an Alabama store. People can shop there for unclaimed items, which are sorted and priced.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, swan recipes, and superhero comics to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.