Quartz Daily Brief—Europe and Africa edition—Fed stays pat, Greek election, Japanese parliament brawl

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What to watch for today

London Fashion Week kicks off. The last day of runway shows in New York coincides with the kickoff in London as the fall fashion season continues. Designers will debut their collections in an unusual location this year: Brewer Street Car Park in the West End.

Pope Francis travels to Cuba. On Saturday, the pontiff begins a four-day trip through Cuba before flying to the US next week. Francis, the first Latin American pope, will lead two open-air masses, meet Fidel Castro, and perhaps call for the US to lift its economic embargo; the pope played a key role in the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Greek voters head to the polls again. On Sunday, citizens will vote on their economic fate for the third time this year, in snap elections called by prime minister Alexis Tsipras. New austerity measures are a foregone conclusion, but the election will determine who’s in charge to carry them out: Tsipras’ populist Syriza party, or the New Democracy party led by Evangelos Meimarakis.

The Conference Board issues its economic index. The gauge of future US economic activity is expected to have gained 0.2% in August after slipping 0.2 percent in July.

While you were sleeping

The Fed did not raise interest rates. The US Federal Reserve opted to leave benchmark rates unchanged in a closely watched decision, due to weak inflation and economic headwinds from emerging markets like China. The Fed left open the possibility of a rate hike in December, but markets are betting that it will stay pat at least until next year.

A US regulator defined bitcoin as a commodity. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission ordered a San Francisco Bitcoin startup to cease operations for failing to register as a contract market, and declared virtual currencies are commodities. The ruling could bring more regulatory oversight to bitcoin-based businesses and prevent Mt. Gox-sized fallouts.

Croatia closed its borders. Facing a influx of refugees from Serbia, officials in Zagreb shuttered seven of its eight border crossings. Croatia is now “absolutely full,” according to government officials. The EU called an emergency summit for next week.

The US and Cuba got cozier. The island nation appointed Jose Cabanos, former chief of the de facto Cuban embassy in Washington, as its first ambassador to the US in 54 years. The US, meanwhile, is set to announce eased trade restrictions with Cuba.

Burkina Faso promised elections. A general behind the African nation’s military coup said the next step is to “establish a timetable that allows us to move towards presidential and parliamentary elections.” Elections will be “soon,” he said.

FIFA’s corruption troubles somehow got even worse. Soccer’s international governing body suspended secretary general Jerome Valcke after he was accused of a scheme to profit from the sale of World Cup tickets. Meanwhile, Swiss authorities approved the extradition of Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo, FIFA’s former vice-president, to the United States.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jenni Avins on casting for inclusivity at fashion shows. “As a conversation about diversity and beauty standards plays out on the catwalk, a show’s cast can invite more commentary than the clothes they are wearing. Perhaps none has made more of an impact this season than the cast at Eckhaus Latta, which has been called the ‘coolest’ by mainstream media such as Vogue and the New York Times.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The United States is experiencing its first viral election. Let’s just lean back and watch some reality TV.

The Fed wisely avoided making things worse. The central bank won’t experiment until Chinese markets calm down.

Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon of a dead refugee may not actually be offensive. It’s a classic case of misrepresentation and misinterpretation.

If you’re white, you’re probably racist. But becoming aware of implicit bias is the first step to overcoming it.

Europe should be proud to be a refugee destination. The continent’s ideals and economic might stand in stark contrast to the Gulf states.

Surprising discoveries

Japanese lawmakers are violently passionate about pacifism. Legislators started a fistfight to prevent a vote on remilitarization.

iPhone users will pay to avoid commercials. The most popular paid app in the Apple Store is an ad blocker.

Parents are using drones to pull out their children’s loose teeth. They’re posting the videos on YouTube, too.

Traumatized veterans can find relief in surfing. The physicality and “flow” of catching waves alters their brain chemistry.

The Prince of Wales has a wine-powered car. It’s a vintage Aston Martin converted to run on ethanol made from fermented grape juice.

The first female astronaut went to space without a toothbrush. She kept the mistake a secret for 30 years.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, toothbrush reminders, and wine-powered cars to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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