What to watch for today
More sanctions against Russia. The US will join the EU in imposing a new set of measures to punish Moscow for its provocative actions in Ukraine. The US sanctions are expected to target Russia’s financial, energy, and defense industries, and the EU’s measures—previously approved, but now actually enacted—will focus on curbing Russian oil production and exploration.
Will Oscar Pistorius go to prison? The South African athlete was acquitted of murder charges but might still face a manslaughter conviction for killing his girlfriend, as the judge presiding over the trial finishes reading her lengthy verdict.
Russia’s central bank stands still. The bank is expected to leave its benchmark interest rate untouched to support an economy weakened by the conflict in Ukraine. But some analysts aren’t ruling out a surprise rate hike, since Russia’s tit-for-tat ban on Western food imports is boosting inflation.
Double data from the US. Retail sales could see a boost thanks to the back-to-school shopping season, after falling flat in recent months. Consumer sentiment figures could also see a turnaround.
Olive Garden’s earnings. Parent company Darden Restaurants will report first-quarter results (paywall) before markets open in the US. Activist investor Starboard Value LP is pushing for a total overhaul of the company’s board.
While you were sleeping
The Arab world threw its weight behind the US. Ten Arab leaders told US secretary of state John Kerry (paywall) that they would join its war against the Islamic State. Kerry didn’t want to call it a “war,” though, but rather “a very significant counterterrorism operation.” Syria, Iran, and Russia are—surprise, surprise—trying to act as spoilers.
Facebook got a thumbs-down in China. The social network “cannot” have access to the world’s biggest internet market any time soon, the country’s top internet regulator said on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum event in Tianjin.
Scotland swung back toward a “No” vote. A new YouGov poll showed supporters of maintaining the union have regained a 52-48% lead.
The Bank of Korea held steady. South Korea’s central bank kept its benchmark rate at a near-four-year low of 2.25%, after lowering it by 0.25% in August, despite the country’s sluggish economy.
Yahoo showed its NSA scars. A federal court ordered the release of a huge trove of court documents showing how the US government threatened to fine the tech firm $250,000 a day in 2008 unless it handed over user data.
Carl Icahn made more inroads into Hertz. Three of the activist investor’s nominees gained seats on the rental car company’s board, boosting its share prices in after-hours trading. Less than a month ago Icahn announced he was the company’s largest shareholder, and at the beginning of the week he forced out its chairman and CEO.
Big donations for Ebola research. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen committed $9 million to support the fight against the disease that’s ravaging west Africa. Earlier this week the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation pledged $50 million to beat the disease.
Quartz obsession interlude
Leo Mirani on how the internet is getting too big for just one kind of Wi-Fi. “Wi-Fi has come a long way from its first tentative steps in the 1990s. Over the years, as new specifications have come along, the speed at which data can be transferred over the air has increased more than 1,000-fold. It now blankets universities, Starbucks coffee shops and, in some cases, entire cities. But it needs to evolve to as the Internet evolves.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Banks should offer lottery tickets. “Prize-linked accounts” encourage the poor to save more.
China’s global mining strategy is a failure. An attempt to secure natural resources (paywall) has resulted in a measly 20% success rate.
Liberal democracy isn’t historically inevitable. Francis Fukuyama’s latest book is still much too optimistic about where the world is headed.
The US should let Russia take over eastern Ukraine. It could learn from the pragmatic choices the British Empire made in the 19th century.
Tiffany used to decorate handguns. They were used as showpieces at 19th century gun shows.
The world’s largest flying creature is named after a James Cameron movie. The Ikrandraco Avatar had a 12-metre wingspan and lived among the dinosaurs.
You can do just fine with half your neurons missing. A Chinese woman is one of just nine known people born without a cerebellum, which controls movement and balance.
There’s a jetpack for runners. It’s designed to help soldiers run a four-minute mile.
For the camel who has everything: a form-fitting leotard. A company is developing them to help prize animals race faster and stand taller.
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