Quartz Daily Brief—Asia Edition—Chile’s vote, Dubai stocks, Microsoft’s vision, volcanic smoke rings

December 15, 2013
December 15, 2013

What to watch for today

A swing back to the left in Chile. Voting has just ended in the second round of Chile’s presidential election. Michelle Bachelet, president in 2006-10, who is running on a platform of higher taxes and social spending, looks likely to beat the incumbent, Evelyn Matthei.

Death and reconciliation in South Africa. Today, a day after Nelson Mandela’s burial in his childhood village, is also the country’s national Day of Reconciliation, instituted after the end of apartheid. A statue of Mandela will be unveiled outside government headquarters in Pretoria.

Remembering Delhi’s “fearless one.” Memorials will be held in London and Delhi for the Indian student whose brutal gang-rape on a bus one year ago today, and subsequent death, stunned the country but has led to only limited penal reform.

Over the weekend

Dubai’s stock market hit a new five-year high. The market has been on a tear since Dubai was chosen three weeks ago to host the 2020 World Expo, spurring a rush of new property deals and fears of another boom and bust.

China plans to supervise pricing. In the wake of fines imposed on various domestic and foreign companies for price-fixing, China’s economic planning agency said it would start monitoring pricing in various industries and beef up antitrust enforcement.

Australia could cut Qantas loose. Prime minister Tony Abbott suggested he was more likely to support lifting foreign-ownership restrictions on the increasingly cash-strapped national airline than give it more government help.

The EU got fed up with Ukraine. Mass rallies against the government continued in Kiev after its attempts to squeeze a better trade deal out of the EU foundered; Ukraine’s demands had “no grounds in reality”, tweeted the EU’s enlargement chief.

Verizon could shake up pay TV. The US telco is reportedly close to buying Intel’s OnCue service. That would allow it to offer web-based pay TV to anyone with a broadband internet connection, mounting a challenge both to web services like Netflix and to cable TV providers.

Peter O’Toole died. The actor, whose 50-year career garnered him eight Oscar nominations but no win (until the Academy shamefacedly gave him an honorary one) succumbed to illness at the age of 81.

Quartz obsession interlude

A possible next CEO of Microsoft tells Leo Mirani about his vision of it as a cloud-services company. “I think reconceptualizing Microsoft as a devices and services company is absolutely what our vision is all about… Does that mean we won’t have our software available for other people to build on? No. Windows is available outside of our devices. Windows server is available outside of our data centres… But at the same time, there is also the customer expectation that we should complete the scenario. That means running a cloud platform, running a cloud service.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The ADHD epidemic is a creation of the drug industry. The marketing of ADHD remedies has driven diagnoses out of all proportion with reality.

The Federal Reserve could be losing its power. US companies are spending more on software and less on big investments, so they’re becoming less sensitive to borrowing costs, and hence, interest rates.

Uruguay’s government may not be able to handle the marijuana business. Running a legal drug industry has all sorts of pitfalls.

Bitcoin will never work a currency. Not unless it gets a central bank behind it to stabilize its value.

Surprising discoveries

Syria’s conflict makes for great TV. A ground-breaking drama, banned in Syria, depicts the complexities of the revolution.

I was friends with the Tsarnaevs. A reporter recounts how he met the Chechen family (paywall) ten years before its two sons committed this year’s Boston Marathon bombing.

Volcanoes can blow smoke rings. See the circular puff from Mount Etna and 35 other spectacular volcano-related photos from 2013.

Inside Kiev’s tent city. Like the Occupy encampment in New York’s Zuccotti Park, but a whole lot bigger and a whole lot colder.

Secrets of the thousand-year graveyard. Bones buried over a millennium outside an Italian church are yielding unique insights about the evolution of disease.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Syrian TV scripts, and smoke rings to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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