Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Colombia-Farc agreement, Hajj stampede, Japan’s centenarian sprinter

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What to watch for today

Will Janet Yellen give hints about an interest rate rise? At 5pm ET, the chair of the US Federal Reserve will give a speech about inflation and policy at the University of Massachusetts, in which the audience will not be allowed to ask questions. Analysts will be poring over her words for hints regarding when the central bank may raise the cost of borrowing.

Clues on China from Nike. The sportswear giant is on an earnings hot streak thanks to a turnaround in China, its second-largest market, and to the US “athleisure” fashion trend. Revenue is expected to climb 2.5% to $8.2 billion, but investors will be looking for clues about China’s slowing economy.

Pope Francis addresses US lawmakers. At around 9am ET, he will become the first pontiff to address a joint session of Congress. The pope then travels to New York City to lead evening prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

Narendra Modi lands in New York. After a day in Ireland, India’s prime minister is headed to a series of meetings at the United Nations to discuss sustainable development goals for 2015 and security council reforms, and to attend a peacekeeping summit hosted by US president Barack Obama.

While you were sleeping

Colombia’s president agreed a peace deal with Farc. Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, a.k.a. Timochenko, announced they would establish a court to try fighters from both sides that are found guilty of war crimes or human-rights violations, while offering amnesty to the rest. A definitive peace deal will be signed within six months, the leaders said.

The EU pledged more funds for refugees. National leaders pledged an additional €1 billion ($1.1 billion) to UN agencies to help Balkan states and countries neighboring Syria, aid Syrian refugees in the Middle East, and for border security. But German chancellor Angela Merkel warned that a solution for the issue was still far off.

At least 220 people were killed in a Hajj stampede. Saudi Arabian officials also said a further 450 people have been injured at Mina, close to the holy city of Mecca. Earlier this month, more than a hundred people died when a crane collapsed. More than 1 million people are participating in the annual pilgrimage the city; details are still emerging.

A Yemen suicide attack killed at least 15. Two blasts in Sanaa, the Houthi-controlled capital, targeted a mosque during prayers for the Eid al-Adha holiday. The attack comes just two days after president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi returned from exile in Saudi Arabia; so far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Japan’s manufacturing sector slowed. The Nikkei/Markit preliminary purchasing managers’ index for September showed a slowdown in growth to 50.9, from 51.7 in August. Any number above 50 signifies expansion. Exports showed the biggest contraction since early 2013, due in large part to lower manufacturing in China.

Sharp is preparing to miss its own forecasts. The beleaguered Japanese electronics manufacturer may even report a fiscal first-half loss when it reports earnings on Sept. 30, according to Bloomberg. That would hasten Sharp’s decision to sell part of its underperforming LCD screen division to Foxconn, a move that has been discussed privately already, the report says.

Wal-Mart demanded supplier discounts. The US retailer has contacted more than 10,000 suppliers that have manufacturing plants in China to request that wholesale prices fall by between 2% and 6%. The demand comes after the Chinese yuan dropped in value; the savings from which, the retailer says, should be passed on to Wal-Mart.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on how draconian US copyright rules made it easier for Volkswagen to cheat. “A controversial US law governing digital copyright prevents tinkerers from examining or modifying the computer code that controls everything from the engine’s throttle to the brakes, and even the steering … incidents like the hacking of a Jeep’s control system or problems that led some Toyotas to accelerate out of control might have been nipped in the bud if the auto hackers could have seen the code.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

It may be too late for Syria. A bombed country can be rebuilt, but an abandoned one can not.

Religious freedom has no place in hospitals. Catholic hospitals that refuse treatment on religious grounds are breaking the Hippocratic oath.

“Dieselgate” is the worst corporate scandal since Enron. Volkswagen’s deception produced 1 million additional tonnes (1.1 million tons) of air pollutants every year.

Commercial space flights will change the 1% for the better. The so-called overview effect will make them more socially and environmentally aware.

Twitter needs to get over Jack Dorsey’s dual roles. Yes, he’s CEO of Square as well, but he’s exactly what Twitter needs.

Surprising discoveries

Japan is home to a 105-year-old sprinter. He hopes to race Usain Bolt one day.

Mechanical gears appear in nature. Some insects have joints with intermeshing teeth to synchronize their legs during jumps.

You really only need about three apps. That’s where Americans spend 80% of their smartphone time.

PETA wants a monkey to own his selfie. The group is suing a photographer, who left his camera unattended, for the copyright.

Bourbon doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky. The relevant government office’s definition of the spirit makes no reference to geography.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, geriatric sports superstars, and bourbons from around the world to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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