Markets have heaved, economies have groaned and small-time investors have panicked. And that’s before the decision on Thursday, when members of U.S. Federal Reserve will make their long-anticipated call on whether to raise interest rates this month. One salve for hike fears is that consumer confidence just dropped, providing a solid statistical incentive — rather than market swings — to delay an increase aimed at stabilizing the economy. There’ll be plenty of pressure on members as the big moment arrives, while Wall Street and its global cousins hold their breath.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’ve been kicked, tossed food as if they were livestock and herded behind barbed wire. Others have been given gifts and a new lease on life. The EU’s leadership wants bloc members to collaborate on housing 160,000 refugees fleeing war-torn regions like Syria, but central European leaders are refusing to share the burden. Something had to give, and today it did: Germany began controlling its border with Austria, saying the flood had become unmanageable, signaling uncertainty for Europe’s open borders and those desperately clinging to hopes of a better life.
What’s a market economy without credit? Chinese consumers often turn to unregulated “shadow” banking for their borrowing needs, and now Asia’s largest economy is evolving to allow a more legitimate consumer credit industry to take root. It’s a largely digital development, with companies like Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial extending more than 1 million microloans and starting its own credit-rating bureau. But the legacy of shadier practices persists, with Chinese courts clogged with shadow banking disputes, and there’s no government agency to monitor online lenders, so further growing pains should be expected.
There’s a new generation of African-American activist. One scholar calls them the “Black digital intelligentsia,” and they’re putting “justice” between social and media. With instant access to thousands, figures like Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry are sharing the stage with more traditional Black academics and opinion makers, but with a multitude of connected collaborators eager to help refine the message. From blogs and podcasts to “Black Twitter,” they’re using technology to cross the digital divide, making history from the ground up.
State of emergency declared as thousands flee Northern California wildfires. (USA Today)
Hillary Clinton’s deleted private e-mails may be recoverable. (Washington Post)
Israeli-Palestinian clashes erupt at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque. (BBC)
Three inmates die in disturbance at private Oklahoma prison. (AP)
James Blake says N.Y. officer who roughed him up should be fired. (NYT)
He was one of basketball’s greats, taking the Philadelphia 76ers to a long-awaited championship in 1983. The 12-time all-star and three-time MVP died of an apparent heart attack in his sleep today, according to fellow Hall-of-Famer Calvin Murphy. Malone took down 17,834 rebounds — the third highest in NBA history — over a 20-season career that included stints in Houston and Atlanta. Tributes poured in for the Virginia native, with the 76ers saying he’d be remembered “as a genuine icon and pillar” of a storied era.
Some workers dread becoming an automaton. But for remote employees, options like the $2,500 “telepresence robot” from Double Robotics add a human touch they can’t get from opening a chat window. First, they find their footing controlling a Segway-like body mounted with an iPad head, then they can track down associates too busy to correspond — or they might even engage in some water-cooler gossip. For one editor, the system had its challenges, but in the robot’s struggles, she glimpsed a future that might ease the isolation of the long-distance colleague.
We’re learning the hard way. New research shows that federal student loan recipients’ balances are actually growing during the first two years of repayment — the first time that’s ever happened. Experts believe it’s the result of borrowers unable to secure jobs after graduation and the burgeoning for-profit university business. And unlike the home-mortgage bubble, bankruptcy can’t protect the 40 million Americans who owe $1.2 trillion in student loans, news that will likely spark calls for the government to restructure the debt to ease the pain.
It’ll make you want to gouge your eyes out. The patients who seek help from 82-year-old Boston doctor Perry Rosenthal suffer from “suicide-provoking” eye pain. Nobody knows exactly why — not even Rosenthal, who’s devoted his research to understanding the unverifiable symptoms of the innocuous-sounding dry-eye disease. He’s published a paper saying that some of the pain derives from brain wiring, and it may not be an eye defect at all. His colleagues may scoff, but Rosenthal’s radical perspective may just provide a view toward a cure.
Here’s a thought: A pantheon of Hollywood stars, including Jennifer Garner and Gwyneth Paltrow, turned out Friday night to get people excited about public schools. The hour-long “Think It Up” telecast on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox raised money for the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s initiative to “create a culture of excitement about learning.” The event also saw the launch of the XQ Super School Project, a nationwide competition to rethink high school by the nonprofit Emerson Collective. With input from students and teachers, it aims to breathe creative life into outdated, factory-like institutions.
If intimidation is half the game, then Buffalo’s 24-year-old cornerback is winning. He cuts a fearsome figure, with a metallic blue helmet visor, blond-streaked dreadlocks and fierce tattoos honoring his South Carolina roots. The image is important as he takes his place among the league’s greatest defensive players. And the 6-foot-1 Gilmore is well on his way, having allowed only one touchdown in 2014’s final eight games. But he’ll need to keep it up to get noticed playing for a team not known for striking fear among its rivals.