What to watch for today
Western countries dig in against Russia. The EU is proposing new, tougher sanctions on Russian companies, and is even considering boycotting the 2018 World Cup (paywall). Barack Obama is headed to Estonia to give US allies a pep talk, and NATO is planning a military exercise in Ukraine this month with more than 1,000 troops.
New gadgets on parade. New smartwatches, phones, and TVs will be on display from manufacturers like Samsung and Sony at the IFA tech show in Berlin, as they attempt to claim a bit of the spotlight ahead of Apple’s Sept. 9 event.
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 will also likely stay the course ahead of rate hikes expected to start next year (paywall).
Economic tales from around the US. The US Federal Reserve releases the Beige Book, a periodic business survey of its 12 regional banks, and is expected to reflect economic growth. US factory and auto orders are also due.
A kiss-and-tell on François Hollande. Paris-Match publishes extracts (French) from Merci Pour Ce Moment (Thanks For This Moment), a memoir by Valérie Trierweiler, the French president’s ex-partner, whom he spurned for an actress.
While you were sleeping
ISIL beheaded another journalist. Steven Sotloff, an American reporter captured last year in Syria, has been executed by the jihadist group, according to a video that is being checked for authenticity. The video also threatens a British captive, David Haines, with a similar fate.
Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet. Japan’s prime minister appointed an advocate for higher taxes and a pro-China politician (paywall) to key posts. He is also expected to appoint more women in an effort to boost his popularity, but his key economic ministers and chief cabinet secretary aren’t going anywhere.
Good news for China’s non-manufacturing sectors. The services purchasing managers’ index surged to 54.4 in August, according to official data, and to 54.1 according to HSBC/Markit—the strongest level of expansion in 17 months.
British retail prices evened out a bit. After July’s 1.9% fall, the steepest in seven years, prices declined by only 1.6% in August versus the previous year. Food prices rose 0.3%.
Australia GDP growth slowed. The economy decelerated but still beat analysts’ expectations with an increase of 0.5% in the second quarter, due to capital spending and increased consumption.
Halliburton settled lawsuits over the worst oil spill in US history. The contractor agreed to pay $1.1 billion to cover most of the lawsuits over its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP, meanwhile, is trying to unseat the compensation claims administrator, alleging a conflict of interest.
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 may be even bigger than Target’s massive security breach last year.
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
Brazil has squandered its oil bonanza. President and former energy minister Dilma Rousseff’s policies have led to stagnant output and increased dependence on imports.
You can’t appeal to ISIL for mercy under Islam. The jihadist group is not interested in arguing theology.
Facebook’s “report abuse” button has become a tool of oppression. A tool to crack down on trolls is being used to silence anti-government dissent.
The West needs to mount a serious response to Ebola. There’s a plan, but it’s not being followed.
Another row over reclining seats. A US plane had to be diverted yet again—the third instance in nine days.
The ice bucket challenge could be fatal if you have a plane dump 396 gallons of water on you.
Radioactive wild boars are on the loose in Germany. The Chernobyl nuclear accident is still affecting their food supply.
Scotland Yard is for sale. Just a brief stroll fromBuckingham Palace, the building is priced at $433 million.
Innovations in cockatoo tool making. A flock emulated one of the birds who carved a stick and used it to retrieve food.