Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Apple’s new gear, Brazil downgraded, airplane germ map

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What to watch for today

The Bank of England stays put, again. The central bank is expected to leave its benchmark interest rate at 0.5%, where it has been for more than six years. Last month, BoE governor Mark Carney hinted that a hike was approaching, but analysts don’t expect it until the second half of 2016.

Bad weather keeps pummeling Japan. The government issued a rare emergency warning and evacuation order due to flooding and landslides caused by tropical storm Etau. More torrential rain is expected in Tokyo and other regions.

India and Pakistan start border talks. A ceasefire between the two countries is being continuously violated, including exchanges of fire on Wednesday. Officials will meet to discuss the situation.

Earnings? Earnings! Lululemon, Restoration Hardware, Dominion Diamond, and others post their quarterly results.

While you were sleeping

Apple unveiled upgraded gadgets… Improvements to the iPhone include better specs and a new pressure-sensitive screen, while amendments to the iPad included the launch of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Apple steered clear of any major surprises but announced that an Hermès-branded Apple Watch is in the works and, at last, updated its Apple TV system.

…But investors were not impressed. Apple shares fell by about 2% after the products were introduced. Energy shares were also down by nearly 2%, leaving Wall Street down by more than 1% overall and erasing Tuesday’s rally.

Chinese inflation got even messier. Consumer prices rose by 2% in August (paywall) from a year earlier, their biggest increase in 13 months, largely on the back of rising food prices. But producer prices dropped by 5.9% from a year earlier, continuing a fall that’s lasted more than four years—a symptom of overcapacity and low demand for industrial goods.

Australian unemployment fell. Companies added 17,400 jobs in August, compared with an expected addition of just 5,000. That brought the unemployment rate to 6.2%, helped by record-low interest rates and a weak currency.

Brazil was downgraded to junk. Standard & Poor’s, a ratings agency, reduced the country’s sovereign credit rating by one notch to BB+, and added a negative outlook, suggesting the situation isn’t likely to improve in the near future. That will add more pressure on president Dilma Rousseff to turn around an ailing economy.

Russia confirmed it has soldiers in Syria. “Russian military specialists help Syrians master Russian hardware, and we can’t understand the anti-Russian hysteria about this,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman told the New York Times (paywall). The US said Russia’s involvement is escalating the conflict, and asked Bulgaria and Greece to deny Russian planes permission to fly over their airspace.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford explains why Singapore’s prime minister is trying to bankrupt a blogger. “As bloggers have brought the pension fund into the spotlight, Singaporeans… want to know why retirement payouts are inadequate for many despite the unusually large share of their wages the government forces them to save; why their pension funds seem to get back a lower return than the state itself earns on that investment; and why the state investment fund, which the prime minister himself heads, declines to publish detailed numbers.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Multinationals should be aiming for Africa’s lesser-discussed nations. The most promising retail markets are in countries like Gabon and Angola.

Taking down ISIL’s “Twitter tough guys” is a waste of time. The US should target leaders, not their minions—even if they are easier targets.

There’s no such thing as the “mobile internet.” Mobile describes the entire internet now.

Architects, please stop making buildings out of shipping containers. Corrugated steel makes for a miserable dwelling.

Killing large predators like Cecil the lion reduces overall suffering. It protects animals lower on the food chain.

Surprising discoveries

Most mammals take the same amount of time to pee, regardless of size. They need about 21 seconds to relieve themselves.

Airplane lavatories are remarkably clean. Tray tables, however, are totally disgusting.

A new Japanese vending machine speaks in your boss’s voice. It’s an attempt to foster better corporate communication.

Melting permafrost could wake up zombie viruses. Yet another danger of global warming.

Texting while driving is hurting Warren Buffett. Distracted drivers are lowering profits at Berkshire Hathaway’s Geico insurance unit.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, disinfectant wipes, and vending machine voices to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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