Hurricane hat-trick, Russia-Japan summit, luxury celery

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The European Central Bank meets in Frankfurt. ECB president Mario Draghi will discuss plans to wind down Europe’s massive bond-buying program, which expires in December. Analysts expect rates to remain unchanged, a move criticized yesterday by Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan, who also mentioned his company would replace a “big number” of employees with robots.

Shinzo Abe sits down with Vladimir Putin. The Japanese prime minister and Russian president will meet in Vladivostok to discuss North Korea and bilateral economic projects. South Korean president Moon Jae-in will also join the summit to discuss sanctions on North Korea after the nation’s latest nuclear test; Putin has said such sanctions would be “useless and ineffective.”

A monthly house price index in the UK is released. Last month the nation’s largest estate agency group, Countrywide, predicted that house prices will slow sharply across Britain this year due to a weaker economy. Today Halifax, a large mortgage lender, will share hard numbers on the issue for the month of August.

While you were sleeping

Three hurricanes hit the Atlantic. As the US braces for Hurricane Irma to possibly strike Florida this weekend after moving through the Caribbean, forecasters are also watching hurricanes Katia and Jose. Early photos and videos reveal the alarming power of Irma, which has claimed at least three lives and caused widespread damage in the Caribbean, including on the islands of Barbuda, St. Martin, and Anguilla.

Trump sided with the Democrats. Stunning his party, the US president abruptly agreed to a deal proposed by the Democrats on raising the debt ceiling and approving aid for Hurricane Harvey victims. It was the first time since taking office he reached across the aisle to resolve a major dispute. He then invited a Democratic lawmaker to join him aboard Air Force One—another first—as he flew to North Dakota to talk tax reform.

The US deployed an advanced missile system to South Korea. The remaining four launchers of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system were installed in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile threats. China is vehemently opposed to THAAD, saying it will exacerbate tensions with North Korea and undermine its own systems.

Facebook shared its findings on US political ads linked to Russia. It identified about $100,000 in ads that it sold during the US presidential campaign to a Russian “troll farm” known for pushing Kremlin propaganda (paywall). The ads touted divisive issues such as gun rights and immigration. The acknowledgment came amid investigations into whether Russian interference helped Trump win the election.

An Indian company could swallow up Ducati. Eicher Motors is set to make a binding takeover bid for the iconic Italian motorcycle manufacturer for up to $2 billion, according to the Economic Times. Suzuki and Harley-Davidson have reportedly been among the other companies interested in Ducati, which is being sold by the embattled Volkswagen Group.

Quartz obsession interlude

Amy Wang and Allison Schrager on the death of the college lecture. “If you went to a big school, you know exactly what it’s like to have to fight to get into a class. The arcane absurdity of outdated enrollment lotteries. Economics students at A&M used to face that problem, sometimes having to delay graduation thanks to oversubscribed classes. Online learning removes physical limitations, so thousands of students can have the ‘spots’ previously reserved for dozens.” Read more here.

Markets haiku

A Fed vice chair quits / citing “personal reasons.” / Uncertainty reigns

Matters of debate

Organizing Amazon warehouse workers is the most important thing US unions can do right now. The only way to fight inequality is by focusing on where employment is going.

Interviewers should not ask women their salary history. It perpetuates the gender wage gap, and women are punished no matter how they answer.

Our focus on optimization and data has made us less human. Information is not the same as knowledge, and knowledge is not the same as wisdom.

Surprising discoveries

Chocolate has a new color. A Swiss company crafted “ruby chocolate,” the first new naturally pigmented chocolate since white chocolate debuted more than 80 years ago.

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un sang karaoke together. The former NBA star and North Korean dictator have formed a friendship around never talking politics.

Bacteria use bursts of electricity to communicate. Communities known as “biofilms” use electrical exchanges to recruit new bacteria from their surroundings, and to negotiate with neighboring biofilms.

Celery was the avocado of the Victorian era. The fibrous veggie was considered a fashionable luxury and served (in a tulip-shaped vase) as a centerpiece for the wealthy.

Wild dog packs count sneezes to vote democratically. The canines aren’t just clearing their noses, but casting their votes on whether to go out hunting.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, pink chocolate, and electricity bursts to You can follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day or download our apps for iPhone and Android.