Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Ukraine invasion, Abenomics takes a hit, Icelandic eruption, kebab safety

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The EU tries to contain the Ukraine crisis. European Union foreign ministers begin an informal two-day meeting to discuss foreign policy in light of mounting evidence that regular Russian troops are fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Bad news for Brazil. New GDP figures are expected to show that its economy contracted the most since the onset of the global financial crisis, as high borrowing costs and inflation hurt investment and consumer demand. Brazil’s leaders have been attempting to revive growth before October’s elections.

India reports GDP. Analysts and investors will be looking at second-quarter GDP numbers to see how reform-driven prime minister Narendra Modi is actually doing. However, the data won’t show real-time performance, because there is a two month delay.

Turkey will get a new cabinet. Prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu will announce his new cabinet today, but the newcomers aren’t expected to usher in any significant policy shake-ups.

An Ebola vaccine could be coming. An experimental vaccine to curb the outbreak is in the works, with safety trials on humans beginning as early as next week. The World Health Organization said the spread of Ebola—3,069 reported cases, 1,552 deaths—will continue to accelerate and eventually surpass 20,000 cases.

While you were sleeping

Japan’s economy got hit. The latest indicators show that Abenomics may not be reinvigorating the economy. In July, inflation held steady, household consumption dropped 5.9% from the previous year (paywall)—almost twice the expected loss—and the jobless rate unexpectedly spiked. The recovery in Japan’s job market may have run its course (paywall).

Iceland’s volcano is erupting. Airspace in northern Iceland was closed after a fissure 300 meters (984 feet) long in the Bardarbunga volcano started erupting just after midnight, the Ministry of Civil Protection said. No volcanic ash has been spotted as yet, and scientists are monitoring the site from a distance. Iceland’s last volcanic eruption cost the global economy $5 billion after tens of thousands of flights were cancelled.

Profit warning from Tesco. The UK’s biggest retailer cut its profit forecast for the third time this year and said it will cut its dividend by 75%. The company’s stock fell more than 9%.

A “humanitarian corridor” in Ukraine. Separatists said they would allow an estimated 7,000 trapped Ukrainian forces to withdraw, disarm, and leave rebel-held areas. Meanwhile, NATO released satellite imagery of 1,000 Russian troops in Ukraine and said there are 20,000 Russian troops massed at the border look like “an offensive army.”

Malaysia Airlines announced a cut. The airline will reduce its staff of 20,000 by at least 6,000 and delist, an overhaul that will cost $1.9 billion.

Another grim IS video. The Islamic State released a video that allegedly shows the beheading of a Kurdish peshmerga fighter in Iraq. The video warns Kurdish leaders to stop cooperating with the US, or other captive fighters will be killed.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on how festivals are a national pastime for American millennials. “[T]he fact that Burning Man has become part of the national conversation, in certain circles at least, reflects an important behavioral shift in America: festivals are booming, as both a business and an activity. This is particularly so among the increasingly important millennial age cohort. According to research and surveys conducted by Eventbrite, an online ticketing company, a staggering one in five millennials attended a music festival in the past year. In a new study, the company claims that music festivals have become “one of young Americans’ favorite pastimes.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Lending Club is better than a lot of banks. That’s partly because the peer-to-peer lending company isn’t subject to the same regulations.

We’re only getting more and more narcissistic. But knowing what kind of narcissist you are can help you change.

It’s time for Ukraine to compromise. As Russia escalates the conflict, Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russia’s involvement are a mocking ritual that proves he will never negotiate.

Every industry should hire teachers. For one, they never clock out, because they’re obsessed with constant improvement.

If you’re tired, have a cup of coffee before a nap. Napping actually makes caffeine more effective.

Surprising discoveries

Kebabs are one way to stop violence. The filling hand-held meal is the best way to put angry drunks to sleep.

In 12 years China built twice as many homes as there are in the UK. Many sit empty.

A deceased Bitcoin pioneer and ALS sufferer is being frozen. The cryonics company Alcor is filling Hal Finney’s blood with cryoprotectant and then he’ll be moved to a long-term storage facility.

The mystery of Death Valley’s sliding rocks has been solved. Last winter scientists finally saw how ice broke into sheets and caused the rocks to slide.

America’s enthusiastic almond consumption has a dark side. It could be responsible for salmon and bee deaths, and missing trucks.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, coffee napping tips, and kebabs recipes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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