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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Ukraine ceasefire shaky, Electrolux-GE appliance deal, Alibaba roadshow, gutter oil mooncakes

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Ukraine’s ceasefire looks shaky. The three-day-old truce between Kyiv and pro-Russian rebels may crumble, with reports of fighting near Donetsk airport and shelling near the city of Mariupol. But both sides insist they are honoring the ceasefire, and the rebels have handed over 15 prisoners of war.

The US readies a game plan for  the Islamic State. President Barack Obama will make a case for broader military action without getting ensnared in the messy regional conflict. Meanwhile, the Arab League said it would support international action, implicitly endorsing US and Iraqi efforts.

Alibaba begins its investor roadshow. The Chinese internet giant is touring the US and Asia for 10 days ahead of its IPO, which will seek to raise up to $24.3 billion and value the company at a record-setting $155 billion. Potential investors are looking for an explanation of Alibaba’s recent $4.6 billion M&A shopping spree.

News from Boeing and Ryanair. The budget airline is reportedly looking to order 100 to 150 of Boeing’s latest jetliner, the 737 MAX 8, for an estimated $10 billion.

Over the weekend

Electrolux is buying GE’s appliances unit for $3.3 billion. The company that gave the world the washer-dryer and toaster oven is offloading the business to Sweden’s appliances giant, which will continue using the GE brand.

So far, so good for the Ebola vaccine. Human tests will begin for GlaxoSmithKline’s experimental drug following a successful five-week monkey trial. Separately, Sierra Leone announced a four-day curfew that will confine citizens to their homes in order to “deal with the spread of Ebola once and for all.”

A majority of Scots favored independence for the first time. With less than two weeks before a crucial referendum, a new poll has pro-independence voters ahead 51% to 49%. In response, the UK said it would cede more control over taxes, public spending and social policy to the Scottish parliament.

Harvard scored its biggest donation ever. The Morningside Foundation, controlled by a wealthy Hong Kong real estate family, gave $350 million to the university’s school of public health. Foundation co-founder Gerald Chan has also bought up $120 million worth of property in Harvard Square.

China’s exports are booming. The world’s second-largest economy reported a record trade surplus of $49.8 billion, as overseas shipments rose by a better-than-expected 9.4% and imports decreased by 2.4%.

The Atlanta Hawks are for sale because of a racist email. Owner Bruce Levenson will offload the NBA team after disclosing an email that speculated the team’s black fans had “scared away the whites.”

Japan’s economy is shrinking. The plunge in second-quarter GDP was even worse than it seemed—a revision to the data showed that the economy shrank at a 7.1% annual rate, instead of the 6.8% that was initially reported.

An asteroid just missed Earth. The rock known as Pitbull is 60 feet in diameter—similar to the asteroid that blew up over Russia last year. It was 25,000 miles (40,000 km) away at its closest point, or just beyond the orbit of geostationary satellites.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Philips on how American families are learning the difference between median and mean. “[D]espite the fact that mean income rose 4% to $87,200 per family, median income actually fell by 5% to $46,700 between 2010 and 2013.The mean was driven by the fact that the highest percentile of the income distribution saw their income surge by 10% to $397,500 between 2010 and 2013.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

People don’t mind dirty restaurants if they’re authentic. Especially when it comes to Asian food.

Qatar is a “godfather to terrorists.” The Gulf monarchy’s support of extremists like the Islamic State is alienating its allies.

Banning laptops and tablets in cafés can be profitable. One coffee shop found people spent more when they surfed less.

Tech startups don’t need project managers. Or meetings, offices, or email.

Not all futurists are useless. A technique called “superforecasting” makes reasonably good predictions (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

The only way to make mooncakes worse: Add gutter oil. Hong Kong’s mid-autumn festival Chinese pastries may have been contaminated.

How diet soda makes you fat. It creates a craving for sweets that it does not satisfy.

Leaked celebrity photos crashed New Zealand’s internet. Users in search of nudity accidentally installed malware.

Donkey Kong has a new score to beat. The previous record lasted four years.

Failure is the secret to successful exams. Botching a pre-test makes you learn more quickly.

Click here for more surprising discoveries on Quartz.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, asteroid dust, and Donkey Kong high scores to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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