Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Tokyo’s new governor, McDonald’s in Vietnam, Abe’s censorship, marijuana munchies

February 9, 2014
February 9, 2014

What to watch for today

Tokyo’s post-Fukushima nuclear attitude. Tokyo’s new governor should be announced; exit polls suggest former TV personality and health minister Yoichi Masuzoe won with 30% of the vote—defeating two anti-nuclear candidates. Masuzoe believes Japan should restart its nuclear reactors.

Greater gay rights in the US. The US Justice Department is to issue a memo increasing the rights of same-sex married people “to the greatest possible extent under the law,” including bankruptcies, prison visitation rights, and the right to refuse to testify to incriminate a spouse. These laws will even apply in states where same-sex marriage is not legal.

Syria reattempts peace talks. Syria’s government will attend peace talks in Geneva, with the agenda of tackling its ongoing civil unrest. The first round of talks, which instigated negotiations in war-torn Syria for the first time in nearly three years, ended recently without progress.

Ebay starts trading bitcoin. The UK branch of the online auction house will begin listing sales of bitcoin and other virtual currencies, although the actual exchange will have to be made externally; eBay transactions must be carried out in a government-issued currency.

The state of play. Hasbro reports fourth-quarter earnings today, and investors will be looking to see how the traditional toy maker, which just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the GI Joe, is faring against digital gaming—particularly after toymaker Mattel’s disappointing recent results.

Over the weekend

Time Warner Cable’s battle escalated. Charter Communications prepared to nominate a team of 13 new directors (paywall) to Time Warner Cable after shareholders expressed concern that Time Warner Cable’s current board isn’t independent enough. Time Warner Cable rejected Charter’s $61 billion buyout offer last month, angling for $160 per share, not the offered $132.50 per share.

Russia cracked down on bitcoin. Russian authorities issued a reminder that the country’s only official currency is the rouble, and that using parallel currencies such as bitcoin, which could be used for money laundering or funding terrorism, is illegal. They said they are working on tightening regulations.

McDonald’s opened for business in Vietnam. Hundreds queued on Saturday to be among the first to eat at McDonald’s 10,000th Asian location, in the south Vietnam location of Ho Chi Minh City. The fast food chain’s usual menu is available, plus a new item added for the Vietnamese market: the McPork sandwich.

Switzerland voted against European immigrants. Swiss voters passed by a slight majority—just 50.3%—a proposal to reintroduce stricter limits on immigrants from EU countries. Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it has adopted many of the bloc’s policies and this move will heighten tensions with Brussels.

Tons of beef off the market. Rancho Feeding Corp. had to recall 8.7 million pounds of meat—that’s more than a year’s output—after food safety regulators showed the northern Californian food company had processed diseased and unhealthy animals without the proper federal inspection.

Quartz obsession interlude

Max Nisen on how Obamacare could drive up your wages. “Older workers who are holding onto jobs in an attempt to cling to health insurance coverage might be more willing to retire, opening up positions for younger workers. In theory, younger workers should also enjoy additional freedom to leave jobs, secure in the knowledge that they’ll be able to get insurance on public exchanges. Previously, the alternative to sticking with an employer was a very expensive individual market, depending on a spouse’s health insurance, or just doing without.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Microsoft should forget about using Android. Google has made sure Android can’t be forked.

High-speed trading is cheating. Using bots to make trades milliseconds before humans can react to financial news is rigging the market.

CVS ditching tobacco products isn’t good enough. Obesity kills more people than cigarettes. CVS should lose the sugar-loaded snacks.

Shinzo Abe is clamping down on free speech. He may be fixing Japan’s weak economy, but Abe could break its open society (paywall).

Surprising discoveries

The sweet scent of data. This startup uses an algorithm to find the best perfume for you.

Marijuana munchies are a real thing. Smell plays a big part, which could be helpful in combating eating disorders such as anorexia and obesity.

Life before the Beatles. It’s been 50 years since the band arrived in the US to a less-than-rosy reception.

The height of Apple fandom. This Japanese man is already in line for the iPhone 6—a product that hasn’t been announced yet.
Activist investors’ success rates. Last year, hedge funds wangled better takeover offers (paywall) in 10 out of 14 cases.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Beatles reviews, and munchie menus to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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