Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Abe’s big win, Cameron’s push on porn, Beijing’s wheelchair bomber, police geese

July 22, 2013
July 22, 2013

What to watch for today

The Pope flies to Brazil. Two million people are expected to welcome him at Rio de Janeiro’s Roman Catholic World Youth Day amid high security and a ban on masks. Government officials fear the gatherings could spark a resurgence of last month’s nationwide protests.

Cameron talks about porn. The UK prime minister is expected to announce plans to make possession of rape pornography a criminal offense. Other measures may include an opt-in scheme for porn when people sign up with new internet service providers.

US and India bolster business ties. US vice president Joe Biden arrives in New Delhi on a four-day visit, also aimed at tackling climate change and defense cooperation issues.

Earnings to watch: Netflix is expected to post robust results, driven by strong subscriber additions and measures to control costs. Fast food chain McDonald’s could struggle to meet investors’ expectations as global economic weakness continues to crimp demand (paywall).

A wave of US IPOs. Eleven companies are on tap to price stock market offerings this week, including energy firms Phillips 66 Partners, which is looking to raise as much as $315 million, and Jones Energy, which is looking at a $252 million issue. The spike in IPO activity is primarily due to the spillover from the July 4th holiday, when companies generally don’t do roadshows or price issues.

Over the weekend

A bomb went off at Beijing’s airport. Nobody was hurt except the bomber, a former motorcycle driver who has been in a wheelchair since state security officers beat him in 2005. He set off the homemade device to draw attention to his plight; after the bombing, his case was re-opened.

Japan’s ruling party won a sweeping victory. Prime minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition won at least 76 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the 242-seat upper house of parliament—putting the coalition in charge of both houses of parliament for the first time since 2007, and giving Abe a strong mandate to continue with his plan for economic growth.

New Zealand earthquake. People in Wellington ran screaming from buildings as the magnitude 6.5 quake struck. Memories of Christchurch’s devastating earthquake two years ago have not faded in the minds of New Zealanders, who are anxiously awaiting possible follow-up tremors.

Deutsche Bank is shrinking. Germany’s largest lender by assets is reportedly looking to trim its balance sheet by up to 20% (paywall) to about €1 trillion in the next two and a half years. The move will help Deutsche meet European regulations that call for a minimum leverage ratio of 3% in five years’ time.

Belgium’s new king. Crown Prince Philippe was sworn in as the country’s new monarch after his father, King Albert II abdicated. The Belgian monarchy is largely ceremonial, but considered one of the few organizations that can hold the country together.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gina Chon on how Microsoft and Steve Ballmer have a major problem: “Activist investor ValueAct has been in talks for a few months about getting a seat on the technology company’s board, according to sources. Microsoft had been resisting, but its recent performance—it lost $33.7 billion in market value on Friday—puts more pressure on Microsoft and its CEO Steve Ballmer to answer to investors.” Read more here 

Matters of debate

300 years of US economic prosperity may have been just a blip. It was a freak coincidence to benefit from two industrial revolutions, but now they’re over.

3D printing will explode in 2014. That’s when several important patents expire, opening the way for competition and innovation.

China’s interest rate reforms actually shield state-owned firms. It’s less about liberalizing credit than keeping old loans from going into default.

Media bosses are undermining democracy in Turkey. The protests were downplayed by news channels run by media bosses with other business interests who are submissive to the government.

Australia is passing the buck. Diverting asylum seekers to  Papua New Guinea is an act of ruthless electioneering.

Surprising discoveries

Police geese. Some rural police departments in China are using geese on patrols. The birds have excellent hearing and are “better than dogs” at tackling crime.

750 million phones could be vulnerable to attacks. A flaw in the encryption technology used in some SIM cards could enable cyber criminals to take control.

Dubai is paying out gold for weight loss. Residents will get a gram of gold, worth about $45, for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) lost as part of a month-long campaign to fight obesity.

Delaying retirement could lower the risk of dementia. People who retired at 65 were 14% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who retired at 60.

What Bill Gates reads on his summer vacation. There isn’t a single book about computing or technology in the Microsoft co-founder’s reading list, but there is a spy thriller.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, police geese and weight loss gold to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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