Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Russia’s convoy, Yellen speaks, Malaysian mourning, Salinger’s home

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Russia’s truck convoy enters Ukraine. After a long time in limbo, Russian trucks are crossing the border. Reuters reports that around 70 trucks, which Moscow says are filled with humanitarian aid, are now headed toward the rebel-held city of Luhansk. Russian media confirmed the crossing. The trucks are reportedly accompanied by some separatists, but not officials from the Red Cross, a key point of contention between Kyiv and Moscow in recent days.

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 this morning, 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.

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.

The National Guard leaves Ferguson. Withdrawal of the National Guard begins today, after a calm Thursday night. The town has endured nearly two weeks of protests and heavy police presence after the shooting of Michael Brown.

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

Hamas killed suspected informers. Eleven Palestinians were executed for reportedly providing information to Israel. Israel’s defense minister has pledged to “hunt down” more leaders of Hamas after killing three senior military leaders Thursday. Though Israel has already destroyed Hamas’s tunnels between Israel and Gaza, it may try to eliminate the ones still operating between Gaza and Egypt.

Indian investors cheered a Gap partnership. India’s Arvind, Gap’s partner when it opens outlets there next year, enjoyed a 2.2% stock price rise. San Francisco-based Gap said Thursday it plans a 40-store operation in India, starting with stores in Mumbai and Delhi.

Ebola’s experimental drug worked. The two American missionary workers who contracted the virus while working in Africa have 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.

A sad day for Malaysia. The country held a day of mourning after the bodies of 20 of its citizens who were on board the Malaysian Airlines aircraft shot down in eastern Ukraine last month arrived in the capital.

Australia defended its immigration polices. At an Australian Human Rights Commission, the government’s immigration minister defended the country’s controversial policy of detaining asylum seekers (paywall).

The Blackstone Group eyed Asia. The private equity firm is in talks to back its second Asian hedge fund since 2008, Hong Kong’s Arkkan Capital Management, which is owned by a former Goldman Sachs banker.

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

Radicalization isn’t always religious. We can learn a lot from the two British jihadists who bought Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies.

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

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

Israel achieved nothing by killing three top Hamas leaders. Every time this has happened in the past, the organization has formed, “smaller and more secretive leadership structures.”

Bankers are being bypassed in Silicon Valley. Deals are no longer based on metrics that bankers can chart.

Surprising discoveries

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

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

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.

US officials are quietly deleting evidence of their ice bucket challenges. A State Department memo was circulated two days ago disallowing further participation.

A “corpse flower” blooms in Los Angeles. It’s about six feet tall and smells like rotten meat.

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

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