Massive Equifax hack, Irma danger grows, free-range trees

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Before we get started, want to take this offline? Quartz wrote a book about 10 objects that are driving radical change in the global economy: how we communicate, what we eat, and the way we spend our money.

What to watch for today and over the weekend

Hurricane Irma is expected to cause massive damage. The Category 5 storm has already caused widespread devastation in a string of Caribbean islands, and is poised to hit the Bahamas, Cuba, and Florida next. The southeastern coast of the United States could experience catastrophic winds and storm surges beginning on Saturday, and many areas are being evacuated.

North Korea may launch another intercontinental ballistic missile. South Korean prime minister Lee Nak-yon warned of a possible launch on Saturday’s anniversary of North Korea’s founding. He said it may launch “at an ordinary angle,” in contrast to the higher trajectory of previous launches.

Nigel Farage will address a far-right rally in Berlin, Germany. The former leader of the UK Independence Party will talk about “developments in the European Union, Brexit, [and] direct democracy,” according to Beatrix von Storch, granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister, who is hosting the event. A counter-rally has been planned during the speech.

While you were sleeping

The European Central Bank is ready to scale back its stimulus program. ECB head Mario Draghi left growth and inflation targets unchanged, but said he was looking at ways to wind down the €60 billion a month security-buying spree, created during the financial crisis. The euro surged.

Amazon wants to build a second headquarters. The tech giant asked North American cities to bid on its $5 billion “HQ2,” with tax cuts and other incentives. The company’s criteria include a population of more than a million people, an international airport, and good education and mass transit options.

Donald Trump Jr. told the US senate about his meeting with a Russian lawyer. During a five-hour closed-door session, the US president’s son said he was trying to assess Hillary Clinton’s “fitness for office,” (paywall) but denied any acts of collusion with the Kremlin.

SpaceX launched a secretive US Air Force drone into orbit. The X-37B, which resembles a miniature Space Shuttle, was carried aloft on a Falcon 9 rocket from a launchpad in Florida (paywall). The US claims the craft is merely testing space technologies, but analysts suspect it may be spying on foreign satellites.

US jobless claims soared in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Tens of thousands of Texans filed to collect unemployment benefits last week, according to new Labor Department figures, in the biggest surge of claims since Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012.

Hackers stole a massive trove of sensitive data from Equifax. The credit reporting giant said data on 143 million Americans—nearly half the country’s population—was illicitly accessed, including social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and even credit card numbers. UK and Canadian citizens were also affected.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dan Kopf on the marijuana that’s not staying where it’s supposed to. “According to economists at the University of Oregon, huge amounts of legally purchased marijuana spill over from Washington into other states …. about 7.5% of the marijuana sold … and that the number was closer to 12% before neighboring Oregon legalized recreational sales in late 2015.” Read more here.

Markets haiku

Draghi rears in rates / Leaves ECB plans unchanged / But the euro jumps

Matters of debate

Silicon Valley should stop worshipping Ayn Rand. Her extreme form of capitalism appeals to many billionaires, but Henry George’s theories are more forgiving.

Hurricanes are not good for the economy… The theory that repairs stimulate the economy is a myth.

…But they’re not that bad, either. Recent catastrophic storms did not have an appreciable impact on the US GDP.

Surprising discoveries

Two new truffle species were discovered in Thailand. They are the first of the coveted fungi to be found in a tropical climate.

Your tap water is swimming with plastic fibers. More than 80% of global tap water contains tiny pieces of plastic too small to be filtered. The US is the most contaminated at 94%.

“Free-range trees” are now a thing. A macadamia grower says it’s a dig at almond farmers whose trees depend on irrigation.

Nike’s new robots use static electricity to make shoes. A startup called Grabit uses electroadhesion to assemble sneakers in less than a minute.

Chocolate syrup used to be medicinal. Pharmacists used Hershey’s cocoa powder to mask the flavor of bitter remedies.

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