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What to watch for today
NATO weighs a response to the Ukraine crisis. NATO officials are expected to endorse a plan for a rapid-reaction force of 4,000 troops (paywall), capable of deploying within 48 hours to Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that new EU sanctions might ban buying new Russian government bonds.
Putin maneuvers to dodge sanctions. Russia is preparing to transfer a $10-billion sovereign wealth fund from a sanctioned state-development lender to the central bank, Bloomberg reports.
US fast-food workers plan protests. Organizers tell the New York Times (paywall) that fast-food workers seeking a $15 minimum wage will hold strikes and sit-ins in more than 100 cities this week.
European bonds are on the rise. Italian and Portuguese government bonds rose after a report showed factory output growth slowed, making the case for more European central bank stimulus.
Libya descends further into chaos. Tripoli said Monday that it had lost control of its ministries (paywall) after armed men from a coalition of militias stormed the capital.
While you were sleeping
The US hit Somalia. The US military carried out drone strikes near the port city of Barawe, Somalia, part of a counter-terrorism operation aimed at the al-Shabab militant group, the Pentagon said. The target of the strikes was the group’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, the Voice of America reported.
American citizens in North Korea pleaded for help. Under close watch, the three men detained by Pyongyang spoke to CNN and the Associated Press and asked the US for help in their release. This could be a promising sign that North Korea is looking to restart dialogue with the US, however, there’s concern that the men will be used as bargaining chips.
Momentum grew for Scottish independence. The newest YouGov poll shows that the No group only leads by six points after leading by 14 in mid-August. A leader of the Yes group said more people are realizing the value of a wealthy, independent Scotland. If Scotland breaks away, the British government has no back-up plan (paywall).
China accused British MPs of interfering in Hong Kong. The BBC reports that the Chinese ambassador to the UK has warned parliamentarians against carrying out an inquiry into the ongoing tensions over democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. China will “brook no interference, either directly or indirectly, from the UK or any other external forces,” the ambassador wrote.
Minsk talks hit a wall. Officials from the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk met with representatives from Ukraine and Russia, airing demands for special recognition that fall short of full independence, but not by much. Ukraine’s defense minister called the Russia-led escalation in the easternmost part of the country a “full-scale invasion,” and likened the conflict to World War II.
Apple is looking into the iCloud hack. Apple says it is “actively investigating” the theft of photos from several celebrities’ iCloud accounts, including fake and real nude photos. Photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, and other celebrities were posted to message boards.
The UN will send investigators to Iraq. The UN said 11 investigators, and a budget of $1.18 million, will be used to examine ISIL’s crimes against “humanity” that are occurring “on an unimaginable scale.” Reports will be ready in March 2015.
Quartz obsession interlude
Dan Frommer on why mobile payments are such a mess in the US, and a solution that may be in sight. “Now Apple, which will reportedly announce its mobile payment system next week, has a chance to kickstart the market. And it might actually succeed. Because of its size, power, and—most importantly—its focus on the user, Apple is uniquely positioned to make in-store mobile payments work. Finally.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Russia is burying its soldiers in unmarked graves to conceal their role in Ukraine. Dead and wounded Russian soldiers are being repatriated and then unceremoniously buried.
Brands are overrated. The Japanese retailer Muji, whose name, short for Mujirushi Ryohin, means “no-brand quality goods,” is betting that it doesn’t need logos to sell its understated style in India.
The threat of gun regulation is a great way to stimulate gun sales. At least, that’s how it worked when the US banned imports of Russian-made AK-47s.
Uber’s power must be checked. It is the embodiment of “unrestrained capitalism.”
Leaked celebrity photos will happen again. They are a reminder that women don’t deserve privacy.
You can teach yourself to like healthy food. But first you have to stop eating all that junk.
Tennis can be transformed into music. The musician and DJ James Murphy, of LCD Soundsystem fame, is running data from US Open tennis matches through an algorithm that turns each match into a unique song.
A potted plant can boost your productivity. New research indicates that minimalism in office design can go overboard, and shows a link between office plants and a 15% increase in productivity.
America’s shale gas boom brought Indian farmers a fortune. But the party isn’t likely to last much longer.
It’s going to get a lot harder to buy dog stew in Seoul. The city’s most famous dog meat restaurant is closing.
Chinese insurers are appealing to clients by getting more creative. They’re covering cancelled honeymoons because of accidental pregnancies, and damage costs inflicted by “mischievous and destructive” toddlers.
Saddam Hussein meant what he said. A study of his privates tapes shows that the dictator’s bizarre worldview heard in public also existed behind closed doors.
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