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South Korea is bolstering its military preparedness amid fears that North Korea could be getting ready to launch another missile test. Seoul says an agreement with the US to scrap a weight limit on its warheads would help it respond to Pyongyang. On Tuesday North Korea reportedly observed moving what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards its west coast. As tensions increase, Japan is planning for a possible mass evacuation of the nearly 60,000 Japanese citizens living in or visiting South Korea.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council that Pyongyang was “begging for war” and that Washington wanted to impose the “strongest sanctions” yet to “resolve this problem through diplomacy”. South Korea also said it would begin lobbying the UN to staunch international oil supplies to Pyongyang. But despite the appeal for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, there is a real risk of miscalculation by the American and North Korean leaders, “a 71-year-old businessman with a volcanic temper and no relevant experience, and a 33-year-old dictator, surrounded by frightened sycophants”, warns the FT’s Gideon Rachman. (FT, NAR, Reuters, NYT) 

In the news

Lego trouble
The Danish toymaker has launched an overhaul of its business as it announced its first drop in revenues for more than a decade and 1,400 job losses. Coming on top of the unexpected ousting of its chief executive last month, the news suggests the company is facing its biggest test since it came close to financial collapse in 2003-04. (FT)

Employee email privacy
European employers can no longer secretly monitor emails. In a landmark judgment, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that companies must tell employees in advance if management is monitoring their work email accounts. (Reuters) 

Hollywood’s dismal summer
Competition from cinematic TV has sent US box office returns down 35 per cent in August, the worst summer result in more than two decades. The returns during what is typically one the industry’s peak months raises new questions about the big screen’s future in the age of digital streaming. (FT)

Bell Pottinger gets ‘toughest possible punishment’ The London public relations company boasting powerful international clients has been expelled from its industry body for at least five years after being accused of inflaming racial tensions in South Africa. “This is the most blatant instance of unethical PR practice I’ve ever seen,” said Francis Ingham, director-general for the Public Relations and Communications Association. (FT)

Storm in a wineglass
A fight has erupted between Italy and Britain after some UK dentists claimed that prosecco, the bubbly North Italian wine, causes chronic tooth decay. Italian newspapers have sought signs of conspiracies between British dentists and local brewers. Luca Zaia, president of Veneto, the region that is Italy’s largest prosecco producer, said: “It’s nonsense — like saying that Sachertorte causes a tummy ache.” (NYT) 

The day ahead

US Congress finishes its holiday
Congress returns from its August recess with only a few weeks to tackle the looming deadlock over the debt ceiling. The devastating storm that struck Texas has sharply changed the prognosis for the upcoming fiscal talks — it could make a package harder to oppose. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

What we’re reading

Courting Amazon When the online retail giant bought Wholefoods, a wave of fear passed through the sector. But now bankers are being inundated with requests from retail clients to see if Amazon  would be interested in acquiring them, too, as traditional retail and consumer companies grapple with enormous changes in how people shop and what they want to buy. (FT)

Is Japan’s stem cell obsession about to pay off? 
A Japanese company is claiming a breakthrough that could transform the lives of millions who have no access to reliable supplies of blood platelets — an essential treatment for some cancer patients and accident victims. But the push to exploit the country’s lead in the sector risks being tripped up by regulation. (FT)

Let them bake cakes
The Great British Bake Off is one of Britain’s most successful cultural exports. More than 20 countries across Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Africa have taken up the format. But producers in other countries rarely tinker with GBBO’s winning recipe. Why? (Economist)

Reaching coma patients
Could a pioneering “mind-reading” technique allow communication with people in a persistent vegetative state? A remarkable experience with a Canadian accident victim suggests it can. (Guardian)

Why you should plan for 5 careers
Changing careers is difficult, lonely, daunting and expensive. But many of us with jobs live with the impermanent nature of work. In this world, planning for multiple careers  is the only rational response. The FT’s Helen Barrett, who changed careers in her mid-30s, on why reinvention is the right move. (FT)

Video of the day

Three reasons why North Korea’s crisis is deepening
Gideon Rachman, the FT’s chief foreign affairs commentator, explains what Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, may be thinking while nuclear threats escalate at a fast pace and asks what other superpowers such as China, Russia and the US are doing about it. (FT)

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