Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Jackson Hole, BofA’s fine, Turkey’s new PM, space sea plankton

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What to watch for today

The world’s financial players are holed up in Jackson Hole. All eyes will be on Janet Yellen’s first speech there as Fed chair, especially after Fed minutes out this week revealed a growing debate about stimulus measures. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi will follow with a speech of his own.

What’s really in Russia’s truck convoys? Ukraine’s border guards on Thursday began what could be the long task of checking 260 trucks in Russia’s convoy of what it says is aid to eastern Ukraine. Kyiv fears the trucks are a ploy to arm pro-Russian separatists, who are battling Ukrainian forces to maintain control of Donetsk.

A standoff in Islamabad. After opposition leader Imran Khan broke off talks with the government on Thursday, will he keep rallying his supporters in the streets? Some 30,000 troops and police (paywall) have been deployed in Islamabad, but Khan, who wants prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign, is sounding belligerent.

Who’s next on Israel’s hit list? Air strikes killed three senior Hamas military commanders in Gaza on Thursday, a sign that Israel’s is taking a more targeted approach in the latest round of fighting. And though Israel’s destroyed Hamas’s tunnels between Israel and Gaza, will it try to do something about the ones still operating between Gaza and Egypt?

More clues about James Foley’s killer. US and UK police and intelligence are poring over social media posts, voice-recognition software, image analysis, and ex-captives’ testimonies to identify the masked man who executed the American photographer; a French journalist thinks he has an idea (paywall). Meanwhile, fighting rages in Syria between ISIL militants and the army.

While you were sleeping

Warren Buffett cheered for Bank of America. The bank has finally settled what CEO Brian T. Moynihan called the firm’s last fight against faulty mortgage securities, in a near-$17 billion record settlement. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has predicted the worst is over for the bank, and the markets seems to agree.

Yes, Ebola’s experimental drug works. The two American missionary workers who contracted the virus while working in Africa have apparently been cured. Both were given ZMapp, the controversial experimental drug. That highlights the dilemma facing officials, with nearly 2,500 cases of Ebola, and up to 30,000 people needing treatment or vaccines.

Turkey got a new, weak prime minister. Turkey’s president-elect, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced his successor as prime minister—his longtime loyalist foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. By law, Davutoglu will have more power than Erdogan, but he is expected to do the new president’s bidding.

Things cooled down in Ferguson. The governor of Missouri began withdrawing the National Guard and a semblance of normalcy returned after 12 days of protests. Attorney-general Eric Holder got personal, talking about his own run-ins with police. A poll found that black Americans think more highly than whites (paywall) of how president Obama handled the race-relations crisis.

The gloves came off in Brazil’s election race. Marina Silva, the new Brazilian Socialist Party candidate for president, wasted no time in attacking Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent, on her economic policies. Polls show Silva has a chance of winning the election, which is on October 5.

Family Dollar rejected Dollar General. Family Dollar turned down the $8.9 billion takeover bid from competitor Dollar General and is opting for a smaller bid from Dollar Tree. The discount chain believed a deal with its larger rival wouldn’t fly with antitrust regulators.

Quartz obsession interlude

Bobby Ghosh explains where to find the moderate Muslim majority: on the internet. “More recently, social media have served as a platform from which Muslims can reject the nihilistic worldview of Islamist fundamentalists and terrorist groups. The rise of the death cult known as ISIL has been greeted with a chorus of condemnation, growing louder with the group’s recent atrocities in Iraq.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Sanctions on Russia won’t stop it invading Ukraine. Rather, if this is anything like 1941, sanctions will encourage an invasion (paywall).

The Islamic State won nothing by killing James Foley. Such horrific executions in the past have never changed a country’s policies or public opinion 

Indonesia’s outgoing leader should hike oil prices. He’d be doing his successor a big favor by lifting fuel subsidies.

Patent trolls are the worst kind of parasite. Unlike some parasites (such as pirates), their armies of lawyers can stifle innovation.

An Ivy League education can lead to depression. The most privileged students have no realistic way to assess their true worth.

Surprising discoveries

Baghdad was quite a lovely place in the 1950s. See for yourself.

There are microbes half a mile under the Antarctic… They can exist without sunlight.

…and sea plankton in space. They were blown up from earth by air currents and stuck to the International Space Station.

One Israeli living near Gaza made his bomb shelter a little too comfortable. He turned it into a marijuana grow house and gambling parlor.

Sunscreen is poisoning the seas. Traces that wash off in the water are toxic to some of the ocean’s tiniest inhabitants.

A very peculiar kind of vandalism. Russia has asked Bulgarians to stop spray-painting the statues in Soviet war memorials as Superman and Father Christmas.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, bomb-shelter designs, and Baghdad polaroids to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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