What to watch for today
Russia and the West face off. Russian troops and pro-Russian separatists seem close to sealing their victory in eastern Ukraine by capturing Donetsk airport, having won Luhansk on Monday. The EU is considering moderately tougher sanctions (paywall) on Russian companies, while Barack Obama will give his allies a pep talk in Estonia, one of the NATO countries that borders Russia.
Shinzo Abe reshuffles his cabinet. Though Japan’s prime minister is expected to appoint more women in an effort to boost his ratings, big policy changes aren’t likely; his key economic ministers and chief cabinet secretary aren’t going anywhere (paywall).
Australia slows, but don’t panic yet. Analysts expect GDP growth to decelerate to 0.4% due to a slowdown in exports and consumption. But many put that down to an unusually strong previous quarter, and there are signs that the economy is successfully rebalancing away from mining.
No surprises in Brazil or Canada. In its last monetary policy meeting before the upcoming election, Brazil’s central bank is expected to leave its benchmark rate unchanged (paywall), though the economy has just entered recession. The Bank of Canada is also expected to stay the course, as it has for the past four years, with rate hikes expected to start next year (paywall).
Economic tales from around the US. The US Federal Reserve releases the Beige Book, its periodic business survey of its 12 regional banks, ahead of the September Federal Open Markets Committee meeting. The reports should reflect economic growth.
A kiss-and-tell on François Hollande. Paris-Match publishes extracts (French) from a memoir by Valérie Trierweiler, the French president’s ex-partner, whom he spurned for an actress. The book, Merci Pour Ce Moment (Thanks For This Moment), said to be an unsparing account of Trierweiler’s time with Hollande, comes out on Thursday.
While you were sleeping
The Islamic State beheaded another journalist. Steven Sotloff, an American reporter whom the militia captured last year in Syria, has been executed, according to a video that is being checked for authenticity. IS killed James Foley, another journalist, in a similar manner last month. The new video also threatens a British captive, David Haines.
Halliburton settled. The contractor agreed to pay $1.1 billion to cover most of the lawsuits over its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP blames it for defective cement work on the drilling rig that caused the worst oil spill in US history. BP, meanwhile, is trying to unseat the compensation claims administrator, alleging a conflict of interest.
Ebola is “out of control.” So said the director of the US Centers for Disease Control, adding that the epidemic is “going to get worse in the very near future.” In Liberia, healthcare workers have gone on strike over unpaid wages, and there are food shortages in infected regions of West Africa, the UN said. All eyes are on GlaxoSmithKline’s experimental vaccine, which begins human trials this week.
Home Depot investigated a security breach. Hackers may have stolen a large batch of credit- and debit-card data from the retailer, which saw its shares drop as a result. The case appears similar to—and possibly even bigger than—the massive security breach that the retailer Target suffered last year (and from which it is still recovering).
Dollar General chased after Family Dollar. The top US discount retailer increased its bid for Family Dollar, which rejected it last month in favor of a bid from Dollar Tree. Dollar General also offered to pay a penalty if antitrust regulators block the deal, but warned it could make a hostile bid if this one is rejected.
Boko Haram extended its caliphate. The Islamist insurgents reportedly seized the town of Bama, killing “scores” of residents and driving out thousands. Last month Boko Haram captured another town, Gwoza, and declared it part of the Islamic caliphate.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on why a shale gas boom in China could be an environmental disaster. “More than three-fifths of China’s shale resources are in areas where water is very hard to come by, as a new study by World Resources Institute details. That’s potentially a big problem given that the way you release gas is spraying millions of liters of water, sand, and chemicals against a shale wall until it cracks open, releasing gas.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
You can’t appeal to the Islamic State for mercy using Islam. It’s not interested in arguing theology.
Facebook’s “report abuse” button has become a tool of oppression. Pro-government supporters are using it to take down pages critical of governments.
Uber must be checked. It is the embodiment of “unrestrained hyper-capitalism.”
The West needs to mount a serious response to Ebola. There’s a already plan, but it’s not being followed.
India needs to lose its crush on Japan. It’s a mistake for Narendra Modi to try to model India’s 21st-century economy on Japan’s post-war one.
Yet another row over reclining seats. This is the third time in nine days a flight has had to be diverted.
The ice bucket challenge can be nearly fatal. That is, if you have a plane dump 396 gallons of water on you from just 22 feet.
Radioactive wild boars are on the loose in Germany. The Chernobyl nuclear accident 28 years ago is still affecting their food.
A top male escort in the UK has a loyalty card scheme. Nine smiley faces give you an hour.
People are poaching plants as old as dinosaurs. Thieves in South Africa stole 24 cycads, a species 340 million years old, worth $65,000.