Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Yellen speaks, Gap heads to India, Ebola drug dilemma, space rights

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The world’s top bankers are holed up in Jackson Hole. All eyes will be on Janet Yellen as she makes her 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 are checking 260 trucks full of what Russia claims is aid to eastern Ukraine. The war is close to a “crunch point” as Ukrainian forces battle pro-Russian separatists pushing into Donetsk and Luhansk. Angela Merkel heads to Ukraine tomorrow; it’s a move that signifies Berlin’s support for Kiev (paywall).

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

Who will Israel target next? Israel’s defense minister said they would “hunt down” more leaders of Hamas, after killing three senior military commanders in Gaza. And though Israel’s destroyed Hamas’s tunnels between Israel and Gaza, it may try to eliminate the ones still operating between Gaza and Egypt.

More clues about James Foley’s killer. Police and intelligence officials in the US and UK 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. The UK is leading the investigation as the man who killed Foley had a British accent. Meanwhile, fighting rages in Syria between ISIL militants and the army.

Canada checks in. June retail figures are expected to have risen by 0.4% over the month. July’s consumer price index is also due—a dip of 0.1% is expected.

While you were sleeping

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 has not yet been fully tested for side effects. With nearly 2,500 cases of Ebola, and up to 30,000 people needing treatment or vaccines, the drug’s success creates a dilemma for officials.

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 more black Americans than whites (paywall) think president Obama handled the race-relations crisis well.

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, for a smaller bid from Dollar Tree. Antitrust regulators would have quashed the larger deal, Family Dollar executives believe.

Senior Pentagon officials called ISIL an “imminent threat.” Army general Martin Dempsey and defense secretary Chuck Hagel said that taking on the organization in Syria is key in defeating ISIL. All options are being considered, including the possibility of airstrikes in Syria, and ISIL could take years to defeat.

Argentina got burned. A US judge said that Argentina’s hopeful proposal to pay its foreign debt locally in order to bypass a US bank was illegal. Three weeks ago Argentina defaulted on some of its bonds, its second default in 13 years (paywall). The judge rejected requests to find Argentina in contempt of court.

Gap looks at India. The San Francisco-based retailer said it would open stores in India next year, and eventually establish 40 there. Gap also reported flat sales, thanks in part to a 5% decrease in sales to $1.47 billion (paywall) at its Gap Global brand.

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 against Russia won’t stop it from invading Ukraine. In fact, 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 cutting fuel subsidies.

US legislators want to establish ownership rights in space. Mining asteroids could become a viable, cheaper way to obtain resources in the future.

Security officials should order copies of Four Lions. As filmmaker Chris Morris said,  “Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks.”

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.

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.

JD Salinger’s New Hampshire home is for sale. It has four bedrooms and is going for $679,000.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, JD Salinger’s home, and Baghdad Polaroids to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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