Quartz Brief: What you need to know about in the world right now

November 25, 2012
November 25, 2012

Hello, Quartz readers!

In the news this weekend:

Lawmakers backing independence from Spain won a majority in Catalan electionsaccording to partial returns, though Catalonia President Artur Mas’s Catalan Nationalist Coalition party lost ground. The autonomy movement has gained popularity as the broader national Spanish economy has weakened—but the central government in Madrid has said it will oppose any attempt by the wealthy region to secede.

A garment factory fire in Bangladesh killed over 100 people.  The country is the second-biggest exporter of clothing in the world after China, but has a reputation for poor working conditions and disregard for factory safety standards. All three staircases in the factory that burned exited to the ground floor where the fire started. Documents on the factory owner’s website suggest it has supplied clothes to multinational retailers including Wal-Mart, though it’s unclear whether Wal-Mart has worked with it since last year.

US retail sales over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend increased 12.8% from last yearThe National Retail Federation trade group’s estimate is in line with its prediction of a 12% increase in purchases through the end of the holiday season. Online spending growth on Black Friday slowed in the US despite the iPad’s emergence as a major shopping tool, according to separate IBM data. Mobile sales represented 16% of the total, up from 9.8% last year. US consumer confidence has strengthened of late, though economic uncertainty and possible tax increases could weigh on holiday spending.

Egypt President Mohammed Morsi faced broad opposition after granting himself new powers. Those powers include exempting presidential decisions from judicial review. Morsi’s supporters in the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement say his moves are necessary to prevent the judiciary from disbanding the assembly writing a new constitution for Egypt. Critics accuse Morsi of making himself a “new pharaoh.” Demonstrations by both sides risk igniting outbursts of violence, though there were signs Sunday of possible compromise. Egypt’s stock market fell nearly 10% Sunday amid the political uncertainty.

Police and protestors clashed in Thailand but there was no coup this time. At least 10,000 protestors demonstrated in Bangkok against the government of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Some had feared it could involve an attempted overthrow of the government.

Bharti Infratel, the mobile-tower unit of India’s Bharti Airtel, plans to raise about $800 million in a December IPO, according to The Wall Street Journal. India’s largest mobile phone operator is banking on improving foreign investor sentiment toward the country.

Nintendo needs a blowout success from the new Wii U console. It has met with strong early demand from videogame buyers.

Relatives of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao profited greatly from a 2002 deal to buy discounted shares in Ping An Insurance from state-owned entities, The New York Times reports in a new installment of its investigation of Wen’s family’s riches.

An Egyptian developer plans a $2 billion ski resort development in a town that was formerly home to a Swiss army base. The Swiss lifted national rules restricting home ownership by foreigners for the Andermatt project, which aims to attract a group of wealthy global buyers.

Matters of debate:

Russian President Vladimir Putin just made the greatest mistakes of his political career.

Is Egypt President Mohammed Morsi Abe Lincoln in disguise or another Mubarak?

Faster wireless data connections make economies grow faster.

Surprising discoveries:

People make more rational decisions about money when given choices in a foreign language. Common biases disappeared when options were presented in a language other than their mother tongues.

Dubai isn’t content to be home to the world’s largest shopping mall. It’s building an even bigger one.

Higher blood alcohol levels boost survival rates for trauma victims.

Our best wishes for your weekend. You can send an email to hi@qz.com with any feedback or news we should be following.

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