Good morning, Quartz readers!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate? Bookies rate the legendary folk singer as having an outside shot at literature’s most prestigious award, being announced today. The leading contenders are thought to be Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, exiled Syrian poet Adonis, and Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o. American Don DeLillo’s odds have dropped dramatically.
The Scottish National Party mulls another bid for independence. Scotland’s ruling party starts its annual conference amid much speculation about whether it will have another independence referendum. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said a new vote was “highly likely” the day after Britain voted to leave the EU, but polls haven’t shifted much in that direction.
Xi Jinping makes a state visit to Cambodia. Cambodia is desperately hoping the Chinese president will hand over hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid during his two-day visit. Over the past few years, Cambodia has embraced China as a donor that doesn’t trouble it with complaints about human rights, unlike the European Union.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
Wells Fargo’s embattled CEO is out. Plagued by a scandal over the bank’s alleged opening of 2 million phony accounts, John Stumpf has decided to retire, effectively immediately. President and COO Timothy Sloan, Stumpf’s longtime anticipated replacement, will take over the reins, while independent chairman Stephen Sanger takes over as board chairman.
China’s exports fell sharply. Last month they plummeted 10% from a year ago, a much larger drop than anticipated. Imports also fell more than expected. The numbers suggest weakness in the world’s second-largest economy, which had appeared to be steadying.
The US Federal Reserve will hike rates “relatively soon.” If the economy keeps growing at a decent pace, an increase in interest rates is likely, according to minutes from the Fed’s September meeting. It was a tight vote to keep them unchanged at least until December, with three officials voting to raise them sooner.
Syria will restart peace talks… again. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US secretary of state John Kerry will meet in Switzerland on Saturday to discuss Syria, along with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar. The US called off talks earlier this month, after a ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia failed.
The US Navy destroyed radar sites in Yemen. Controlled by Houthi rebels, the sites were associated with recent attacks on US ships. The “limited self-defense strikes,” as Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook described them, involved Tomahawk missiles launched from the destroyer USS Nitze.
QUARTZ OBSESSION INTERLUDE
Dave Gershgorn on how the Obama administration sees the future of AI. “The White House imagines virtual personal assistants housed in smart glasses, automated factories that assist humans in complex building tasks, and systems that provide better data for farmers, all in the context that these could be job creators and not job stealers. When it comes to manufacturing, the White House believes that more efficient automation could incentivize companies to bring their production back to US soil. While these are appealing futures, the reports mainly rely on macroeconomic forces to make them come to fruition, rather than any set initiatives.” Read more here.
MATTERS OF DEBATE
The gender gap starts with household chores. Girls spend 160 million more hours on chores than boys, putting a lower value on their work from an early age.
We aren’t meant to be happy all the time. That’s actually a good thing, because dissatisfaction is what keeps us motivated.
Open floor plans are terrible for programmers. They are solitary workers, and don’t benefit from overhearing conversations.
Mole rats are helping us understand pain. Their exceptional pain tolerance could inspire better treatments for humans.
Researchers used brewery wastewater to make battery electrodes. It could be more efficient and cheaper than traditional methods.
China is investigating people’s bathrooms to assess their creditworthiness. Traditional credit histories don’t work (paywall) in a society run by cash, where fraud is common.
Spending time in the presence of trees is scientifically proven to improve your health. Inhaling arboreal oils strengthens your immune system.
Mice squeak by pushing out air at supersonic speeds. Their vocal cords are motionless during the whole process.
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