Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Barack and John discuss Cliff. US President Barack Obama is set to meet with John Boehner, a leader of the Republican opposition, in order to start the horse-trading that will hopefully lead to a budget deal. Such an agreement is crucial if the US economy is to avoid the impact of automatic tax increases and spending cuts—the so-called fiscal cliff—that will occur by Jan. 1, and may send the US back into recession. Don’t expect much progress; there are still some six weeks to go, though only 13 congressional working days, which makes it a bit trickier.
Japan’s government commits hara-kiri. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will formally dissolve parliament, calling elections for Dec. 16, which the opposition Liberal Democratic Party is expected to win. The result, says one analyst, is going to be a “bloodbath” for Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan, which had been the first to defeat the LDP in half a century. The DPJ had struggled to revive the economy, and agreed to an election in return for the LDP’s agreement to issue bonds to finance the budget deficit.
David Petraeus does something almost as painful. The ex-head of the CIA, a week after resigning over an extra-marital affair, will give his closed-door testimony before a Congressional intelligence committee trying to determine why the US failed to prevent the attack that killed its ambassador and three other members of its diplomatic mission to Libya in September.
While you were sleeping
Apple claimed it invented the Galaxy Note. Samsung alleged it invented the iPhone 5. In its ongoing round of claims against its Korean rival, Apple was permitted by a US federal judge to add patent-infringement claims against the Samsung Galaxy Note, the US version of the Galaxy S III and the Jelly Bean version of Google’s Android mobile software. Samsung, meanwhile, was given permission by the same court to add the iPhone 5 to its infringement claims against Apple.
Mideast violence escalated. Israel pressed forward with its air campaign on Gaza, as Hamas retaliated for Israel’s killing of a Hamas military leader by firing rockets at Israeli towns, two of which fell near Tel Aviv. The Israeli army is preparing to call up as many as 30,000 reservists. The first 24 hours of the conflict have left 16 dead in Gaza and three in Israel.
BBC settled false child abuse claims. The publicly funded UK broadcaster paid £185,000 plus costs to Lord McAlpine, a Conservative party peer, after airing a documentary that led to him being wrongly accused of child abuse. The disastrous affair led to the BBC’s new director general George Entwistle resigning after only 54 days in the job. Some BBC staffers have blamed the journalistic blunder on budget cuts. McAlpine’s lawyers also warned they have a “long list” of other parties to sue after Twitter users and even a popular British chat show stoked the rumors.
Wal-Mart excites in the third quarter and disappoints in the fourth. Reported profits for the third quarter beat analysts’ estimates, but the stock slid after the US retailer projected fourth-quarter results that were less optimistic. The company also disclosed that an internal probe, which it began after allegations that it had bribed officials in Mexico, is spreading. The company is now looking at potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Brazil, India and China as well.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz offers advice on how to legally bribe an official of a foreign country. “Gifts that have gotten people in trouble: Sports cars, fur coats, country club memberships, generators, cell phone bills, limousine services, and trips to tourist traps where you don’t have company facilities, like Hawaii, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Disney World, Universal Studios, and New York City.” However, “facilitated payments”, what in other countries might be called bakhsheesh, are allowed. Read more here.
Matters of debate
US banks are still not lending enough, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says.
Why aren’t we all using Japanese toilets? They are awesome and by rights should have conquered the world already.
Four reasons why Republicans lost the US presidential election, but could conceivably win again, someday…maybe.
If Karl Marx were alive today, he’d be a banker.
When you hear officials or executives use either the phrase “black swan” or “perfect storm,” think “lame excuse.”
Goldman Sachs still has too many partners. The bank just promoted fewer mortals to the overlord class than in past years, but needs to tighten its Gucci belt.
Obama needs to push the US to the brink of the fiscal cliff and scream, “Say I won’t!”
The president of Uruguay lives like a poor farmer.
People prefer to pay with clean crisp bills, rather than rattier pieces of currency that have a higher face value.
The US Senate now has a record number of women members, but it can’t legislate enough toilets for them.
The secret to perpetual youth is buying your own groceries, apparently.
China’s youth find domestic politics a big yawn.
Best wishes from Quartz for a productive day. Please send any news, queries, facilitated payments, and lame excuses to firstname.lastname@example.org.