What to watch for today
The year’s strongest storm bears down on Japan. Authorities are on alert for flash floods and landslides as typhoon Vongfong drifts further over the Japanese mainland. Thirty people have already been injured as winds gusted to 175 kph (109 mph), while hundreds of thousands have been evacuated and flights have been canceled.
Let’s play “Global Financial Crisis.” The US and UK will hold the first transatlantic war game to simulate a meltdown at a large American or British bank. Senior officials and representatives from big banks will gather in Washington DC to plot out how to handle the crisis and inform the public. War games are more often used to prepare for terrorist attacks or military campaigns.
China and Russia could sign a gas deal. Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation have agreed on a $400 billion deal for gas delivery to China for the next 30 years. Russian trade officials say the deal could be inked today.
The WTO tries to make itself useful. The World Trade Organization starts talks on how to “circumvent” one of its founding principles: that all decisions should be made by consensus. The WTO has not signed a new trade agreement in 20 years, which has turned off developing nations.
Fiat moves from Milan to New York. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles makes its debut on the New York Stock Exchange today, shifting its listing from Milan as it marks the official merger of Fiat and Chrysler. The world’s seventh-largest automaker has ambitious growth targets but a daunting debt load.
Oscar Pistorius is sentenced. The South African athlete faces a maximum 15 years in jail for the negligent killing of his girlfriend. A non-custodial sentence is also possible.
Over the weekend
Anti-Occupy groups attacked Hong Kong protest sites. Taxi drivers, truckers, and several dozen men wearing surgical masks attempted to destroy a protest site in the city center, just after police removed barricades that protected it, leading some to accuse the police of colluding with thugs. The protests are entering their third week.
Bill Ackman’s fund listed with a whimper. The activist investor known for billion-dollar bets on Herbalife, Allergan, and other companies saw shares of his fund, Pershing Square, open down by 2% on their first day of trading in Amsterdam.
China’s trade balance got a boost. Exports grew 15.3% in September from a year earlier and imports rose 7%, compared with expectations of a 12% rise and a 2% decline respectively. A rise in exports could help China weather a property-induced domestic slowdown—if the figures can be believed (paywall).
Ebola was transmitted in the US. A healthcare worker in Texas, who treated an Ebola-infected man who died there, was herself infected—the first known transmission on American soil. The infection apparently resulted from a breach of safety protocol, US authorities say, and other cases could follow. More than 4,000 people have died from the disease during the latest outbreak, mostly in West Africa.
Turkey opened its bases. American forces will be able to use Turkish military bases to train moderate Syrian forces and “engage in activities” in Iraq and Syria, after facing weeks of criticism for not doing more to combat Islamic State fighters, some of whom are on the brink of capturing a Syrian town on the Turkish border.
A huge cyclone battered Eastern India. Over 400,000 people were evacuated from parts of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh as Cyclone Hudhud passed the area. At least eight were killed. The death tolls from such storms is dropping as Indian officials prepare more effectively for extreme weather.
Quartz obsession interlude
Kabir Chibber on Profile Engine, the “spammy” Facebook crawler hated by people who want to be forgotten. “In 2008, Profile Engine acquired the rights to crawl through the back-end of Facebook and go through its user data. Profile Engine was originally a search for Facebook. The deal existed until 2010, when Facebook allegedly shut off access and Profile Engine sued the social network.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Curb your enthusiasm over Elon Musk. Tesla is an exciting company but it still has to play by some pretty standard rules.
Mars pioneers will starve to death. MIT students found some worrying errors with the Mars One plan.
Asia needs to do more to prevent the spread of Ebola. It would help some countries’ aspirations to be global leaders.
The NSA has a bigger leak problem. A new Snowden documentary confirms there is a more senior whistleblower.
The intelligence community needs more creatives. They would be better than traditional analysts at predicting a more complex world.
Infrastructure investment is a no-brainer. It’s time to end the “disinvestment madness.”
Someone posed as Hitler on Tinder. And people actually swiped right.
There is a cookbook for lab-grown meat. It’s to make people think about the technology’s potential.
Software can now detect your emotional state through your typing style. That means we’re another step closer to achieving emotional AI.
Roughly 100 evil geniuses exist. At least, that’s what the head of Europol’s Cybercrime unit says.
The marathon world record hasn’t changed since 1988. It is stuck at 2:06:50.
You can be arrested in Belarus for using foul language. Especially if it is directed towards Vladimir Putin.
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