Quartz Daily Brief—US edition—Ukraine ceasefire confusion, ISIL hostage execution, radioactive boars

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What to watch for today

CVS gets a makeover. The drugstore chain changes its name to CVS Health as it ends the sale of tobacco products (paywall).

A kiss-and-tell about 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 spurned ex-partner.

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.

Brazil and Canada stand pat. 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).

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 unveiling of a new iPhone next week.

While you were sleeping

The Ukraine-Russia ceasefire that wasn’t. Kyiv walked back claims of a “permanent ceasefire” agreement between Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin; it now says there were only discussions of possible steps toward a truce in its war-torn eastern region. The Kremlin stuck to its line that Putin cannot agree to a ceasefire because Russia is not part of the conflict.

ISIL beheaded another journalist. American freelance reporter Steven Sotloff was killed on camera by the jihadist group. The video clip, which was confirmed as authentic by the US, also threatens British captive David Haines with the same fate.

French luxury giants declared a truce. LVMH will give up its $7.5 billion stake in Hermes, which it acquired stealthily through the purchase of derivatives, after a French court intervened to end a four-year legal battle between the companies.

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.

The euro zone economy stumbled. The Markit composite PMI expanded at its slowest rate of the year, falling to an eight-month low of 52.5 as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine hurt spending and investment. Separately, British retail prices declined by 1.6% in August versus the previous year; food prices rose 0.3%.

Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet. Japan’s prime minister appointed five women as ministers, along with two pro-China politicians to bolster his flagging popularity. Don’t expect any major changes to Abenomics: His key economic ministers and chief cabinet secretary are staying in place.

Australia GDP growth slowed. The economy decelerated but still beat analysts’ expectations as it posted growth of 0.5% in the three months to June, due to capital spending and increased consumption.

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 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 is a tool of oppression. An anti-troll feature is being used to silence anti-government dissent.

Apple isn’t responsible for leaked nude selfies. It’s stated clearly in the iCloud user agreement.

Surprising discoveries

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. At least if it involves 396 gallons of water being dropped from a plane.

Radioactive wild boars are on the loose in Germany. The Chernobyl nuclear accident is still affecting their food supply.

Cockatoos can innovate. A flock emulated one of the birds who carved a stick and used it to retrieve food.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, radioactive boar recipes, and cockatoo tools to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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