In a surprise move, the Bank of Japan announced Friday it would once again buy up massive amounts of government bonds in an attempt to prod a recovery. The move caused stocks worldwide to jump, including by nearly five percent in Japan today alone, and Wall Street closed at a new record high. The strategy — aka quantitative easing — was the cornerstone of the United States’ recovery effort up until Feds wound it down this week.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s been a rough week for private space exploration. SpaceShipTwo, a rocket plane designed by Richard Branson’s company to take tourists into space, crashed in the Mojave Desert on Friday during a test run, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another. The company said the “vehicle suffered a serious anomaly” in its first self-powered flight since January. Virgin was awarded a contract with NASA — which lost an unmanned rocket made by a contractor earlier this week — just last month.
It was a “declaration of war,” according to a Palestinian leader. Yesterday Israeli authorities denied access to a sacred site in Jerusalem, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, amid clashes in East Jerusalem. The area was closed after a counter-terrorism unit killed a Palestinian who was suspected of shooting prominent Jewish activist Yehuda Glick. Israel has reopened the site, but tensions remain high. Meanwhile, Sweden yesterday became the largest Western European country to officially recognize Palestine as a state.
While a judge orders an asymptomatic bike-riding nurse in Maine to keep three feet away from other people, an official Ebola hotline in Sierra Leone is getting 1,300 calls a day. The country needs 4,800 hospital beds to contain the outbreak, and new facilities can’t be built quickly enough. Meanwhile, Louisiana authorities ban those who have helped the African relief effort from a major conference on tropical diseases. Anyone who’s been in a high risk country will be quarantined in a hotel.
After 27 years in power, President Blaise Compaore has resigned. He released a statement Friday saying the presidential seat is vacant, as a military spokesperson announced the news to cheering protesters in Ouagadougou, the capital. Violent protests this week killed up to 30 people, torched buildings and caused Compaore to dissolve parliament. The protestors came in response to the (now former) president seeking a constitutional amendment to let him run for another term. Military chief Gen Honore Traore has taken over, “in line with constitutional measures.”
Praise has poured in for Apple chief Tim Cook, who came out yesterday in a Bloomberg Businessweek essay, making him the only openly gay CEO in the Fortune 500. Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein said that Cook’s gesture “will resonate powerfully,” while Mark Zuckerberg described Cook as “a real, courageous and authentic leader.” The muted conservative response may indicate that homosexuality is no longer a wedge issue in American culture and business — even though workers in 29 states can still be fired for being gay.
Accused cop-killer captured after 48-day manhunt. (ABC)
Ukraine and Russia reach gas agreement. (Reuters)
Myanmar’s president meets with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. (Al Jazeera)
Backup forces arrive to support Kobane defense. (CNN)
Halloween app allows parents to map trick-or-treat routes. (Mashable)
MH370 family sues airline, government. (The Guardian)
Call it an early frost before the holiday spending binge. Americans kept their dollars close last month, buying fewer goods and holding the line when it came to spending on services. But wages rose for the third quarter, the highest bump in more than half a dozen years. Still, economists remain hopeful that the prospect of falling gas prices will add a boost along with holiday spending. To the mall, everyone!
Just in time to stuff faces with candy comes an update to Nextdoor, a neighborhood-connecting social network. Its new mapping feature helps users (parents with little goblins) plot out the tastiest trick-or-treating routes. The maps rely on other users providing information about whether they plan to hand out candy (marked by a candy-corn icon) or create a haunted house or other thrill. Maps are available for 20 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle.
Justin Edmund, a designer at Pinterest, can count his African American colleagues on the fingers of one hand. The site’s seventh employee, Edmund has published a personal essay questioning this lack of diversity, noting that just two percent of workers in Silicon Valley are black. He writes that few tech leaders engage with race-related issues, and many tech workers have ignored the racially charged crisis in Ferguson. Edmund, however, voices a fear that he “could walk to the store right now and be shot dead.”
Russell Brand doesn’t understand the difference between quantitative easing and bank bailouts, but his new political manifesto, “Revolution,” contains at least one idea with legs: canceling personal debts to stimulate the economy. Debtors tend to spend money and creditors save it, so money in the pockets of borrowers finds its way into the economy faster, according to noted economists like Randall Kroszner. Increased spending in lagging economies could create more jobs, but since lenders hate the idea of debt relief, it’s a hard sell for politicos.
In France, winemaking seems a calling that time forgot, but climate change has jolted vintners into the 21st century. The country’s wealthiest producers don’t want to acknowledge the risks facing their grapes or bank accounts — one even suggests that warming could be beneficial — but they’re already feeling the impact of rising temperatures. The maturation of grapes for prized Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example, has seen worrisome acceleration since 2008, so if you’re planning to invest in a bottle, do it now.
He got bin Laden. Now the feds are after Matt Bissonnette. The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into whether the former SEAL Team 6 member revealed government secrets. Bissonnette made millions on his bestselling No Easy Day and plans to publish a second book next month, but he has also spoken freely at corporate events, drawing criticism from other members of the elite special operations unit. The ex-SEAL argues that top brass supports projects like Zero Dark Thirty, so folks who were on the ground in Pakistan should get to tell their side.
King James’ Thursday night return to Cleveland was wet-blanketed by New York’s Carmelo Anthony and his Knicks. In the down-to-the-wire 95-90 Cavaliers loss, two-time champ James — who left his native Cleveland for Miami in 2010 — was shooting cold, scoring 17 to Anthony’s 25 and committing eight turnovers. Although slipping at the start line was not part of the plan, with young stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving at LeBron’s side, the Cavs are still favorites with 81 games to go.