China’s rebound hopes, Obama visits Arctic, beautifully average faces

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What to watch for today

Is China’s stock rebound doomed? After a volatile week that ended in a slight bounce, options traders who bet on future market movements have never been so pessimistic: Bearish contracts have hit an all-time high, according to Bloomberg.

Sudan’s president arrives in Beijing. Omar Hassan al-Bashir is traveling to China for the country’s commemoration of the end of World War 2, despite warrants from the International Criminal Court accusing him of genocide and other atrocities. Other attendees of the Sep. 3 ceremony include leaders from some of the world’s least powerful countries.

Obama visits the Arctic. The US president will address foreign ministers from Arctic countries in the US state of Alaska, which he says is “on the front lines” (paywall) of climate change.

Euro-zone inflation data. The European Central Bank has been pumping €60 billion ($67 billion) of monthly cash into the economy for half a year, but August prices are still expected to only show a 0.1% increase. Indian GDP figures are also due.

Serena Williams reaches for history at the US Open. A victory at the tennis tournament, which starts today, would complete a calendar-year Grand Slam. Serena has already set one record: tickets for the women’s final sold out before the men’s for the first time ever.

Over the weekend

Li Keqiang tried to put market fears to rest. The Chinese premier said the economy is growing at a “reasonable” pace, and blamed “international uncertainty” for recent market turmoil. Meanwhile, China Construction Bank, the country’s second largest lender, posted zero quarterly profit growth and warned of a rising level of non-performing loans.

Suzuki dissolved its partnership with Volkswagen. An arbitration panel ordered the German automaker to sell its 19.9% stake in the Japanese firm, after the companies feuded over electric cars and expansion in emerging markets. Volkswagen bought the shares for $1.9 billion and they are now worth double that.

Thailand arrested a suspect in the deadly Erawan bombing. Police in Bangkok say they arrested a foreigner from an unspecified country in connection with the blast that killed 20 people two weeks ago. Bomb-making materials were allegedly found at the man’s house, but he may not be the same person who was caught on a security camera.

Dominica was devastated by a tropical storm. The Caribbean island nation reported at least 20 people dead and 50 missing, with many communities completely cut off in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Erika’s intense flooding and landslides. Heavy rain is expected today in Florida as the storm moves north.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks died. The scientist and acclaimed author, 82, wrote about his patients with deep empathy and in graceful prose—even after he himself received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Sacks achieved rare fame by writing about the oddities of the human mind in books such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Quartz obsession interlude

Cassie Werber on the European countries that will only accept migrants if they’re Christian. “Discrimination on the basis of religion is specifically prohibited under European law—which is one of the reasons people fleeing sectarian conflicts in places like Syria seek asylum there in the first place. … [Yet] Slovakia’s interior ministry said it would be willing to take in 200 refugees, but would strongly prefer non-Muslims.”  Read more here.

Matters of debate

Buying organic vegetables is a waste of money. They cost more but are not measurably healthier or better for the environment.

Everyday rudeness at work is contagious. Annoying encounters can eventually hurt productivity and performance.

We need to set aside half of the Earth. It’s time for re-wilding, says scientist E.O. Wilson.

The US should wall off Canada. A US presidential candidate wants to build a physical barrier along the longest border in the world.

Ballpoint pens killed our handwriting. They are more uncomfortable and require more effort than old-school fountain pens.

Surprising discoveries

Italian entrepreneurs are most likely to have the surnames Hu, Chen, and Singh. “Rossi,” the most common Italian surname, ranks a distant fourth.

A French woman receives disability payments for a wifi allergy. She claims €800 ($850) a month for “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.”

Sometimes every vote really does count. Because of a legislative error, a student in Missouri will be the sole voter to decide on a tax increase.

A Chinese man makes a living as an Obama impersonator. The former migrant worker recently got plastic surgery to enhance the likeness.

A beautiful face is greater than the sum of its parts. The more faces are averaged together, the more attractive the result.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, electromagnetic sensitivities, and beautiful composite faces to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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