What to watch for today
A joint French-German address to the EU… German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande will talk about the pressing refugee crisis and ways to deepen integration in a speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It’s the first time leaders of the two states have spoken together like this since François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl in 1989.
…as the EU tries a new anti-smuggler approach. The bloc is sending six warships to patrol the Mediterranean and intercept boats smuggling migrants, almost 3,000 of which have drowned so far this year on these makeshift boats. Operation Sophia, headquartered in Rome, is named after a baby born to a Somali woman on a German vessel this summer.
Fiat Chrysler workers go on strike. The United Auto Workers union gave notice that its 40,000 members will go on strike at 11:59 pm Detroit time unless its demands are met. Last week, the UAW rank and file overwhelmingly voted to reject a labor contract crafted by Fiat and union leaders. It would represent the first walkout against a US car company since 2007.
And the Nobel for chemistry goes to…? The latest Nobel prize, following recent announcements for medicine and physics, is in chemistry. Leading contenders are scientists for discoveries related to genetics and batteries.
Alexis Tsipras faces a confidence vote. The newly re-elected prime minister will wrap up a three-day parliamentary debate with a vote, as is standard procedure following an election. Tsipras is trying to strike a balance between the demands of international creditors and his pledge to ease the pain of austerity measures.
While you were sleeping
AB InBev raised the stakes over SABMiller. Anheuser-Busch offered $104 billion for the Anglo-South African brewer after it rejected two previous offers, arguing the buyout price was too low. That values the shares at 44% higher than its market cap on the day before a potential buyout was announced.
Australia ruled against a cancer gene patent. The high court said that the discovery of a gene that greatly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer was not an invention, and overturned previous rulings protecting its patent. Cancer campaigners say that will allow more teams to research the gene; US-based Myriad Genetics, which holds the patent, argued that such legal protection encourages investment in research.
Japan held steady on its stimulus. The central bank left its 80-trillion-yen ($663 billion) annual stimulus in place, and maintained its interest rate at zero, citing a continued moderate recovery (paywall). That’s despite the bank struggling to hit its target inflation rate of 2%.
AirAsia is considering a management buyout. Founders of Asia’s largest budget carrier are seeking investment for the deal, according to Reuters. That follows a report in June that questioned the airline’s accounting practices and sent its share prices to their lowest in years; at yesterday’s close, the company was valued at no higher than when it went public over a decade ago.
Tesco’s fall appeared to bottom out. Britain’s biggest supermarket reported a 1% fall in second-quarter like-for-like sales, performing better than a 1.5% drop in the first quarter, while transactions and sales volumes both rose. Competition from low-cost rivals, as well as a major accounting scandal, has hampered the retail giant’s profits in the past 12 months.
Tencent- and Alibaba-backed startups agreed to merge. Dianping and Meituan, backed respectively by two of China’s tech giants, will merge to form a $15 billion company, according to Bloomberg. The digital businesses offer a combination of services similar to Yelp and Groupon for restaurants, bars, and movie theaters.
Volkswagen said recalls will begin in January. Matthias Mueller, the German automaker’s new CEO, said all 11 million affected cars will be fixed by the end of 2016. All investments not absolutely necessary will be put on hold, and new spending will come under intense scrutiny, Mueller told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (link in German).
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on America’s lobster boom. “A scientist who tracks baby lobsters reports that in the last few years their numbers have abruptly plummeted, up and down Maine’s coast. With the number of breeding lobsters at an all-time high, it’s unclear why the baby lobster population would be cratering—let alone what it portends. It could reflect a benign shift in baby lobster habitats. Or it could be that the two-decade boom is already on its way to a bust.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Britain is the best place to die. It ranks near the top in palliative care, affordability, and other key measures.
China’s new credit scoring system is an Orwellian nightmare. Run in part by Alibaba, it measures the ability to repay debt along with political compliance.
Turkey is in serious trouble. Take political unrest and a slowing economy, and add Russian activity in its backyard.
Facebook’s “poor internet for poor people” is better than nothing in Africa. Even cynically-restricted access to the internet will help severely under-connected communities.
Clean energy will be this generation’s version of landing a man on the moon. It can be done, if the world is motivated enough.
Properly cooking pasta requires more than one pot. Don’t settle for a single-pan shortcut just because Martha Stewart does.
Humans are worse for wildlife than nuclear disasters. Wildlife is thriving at the site of the Chernobyl disaster, which is devoid of human habitation.
Nike wants you to print your shoes at home. A top executive said 3D-printed footwear is “not that far away.”
The CIA once paid spies with items from Sears catalogs. Twenty days in the field were worth one boys’ red velvet blazer.
The cure for scurvy was quickly forgotten. Twentieth-century South Pole explorers paid the price (P.S. It’s vitamin C).